The wow effect of Power BI

Tosho Trajanov

Tosho Trajanov


Like most of the developers I know, I never liked Microsoft. They might be one of the greatest company ever, but I just had difficulties with most of their products I tried using.

In the last few months, I have been working on this amazing marketing intelligence application. As is the case with most startups, we couldn’t create a development plan and stick to it. We were trying things, then comparing results then we kept trying until we were sure what we got is good.

As you could guess, there is a lot of data we are gathering to actually make it intelligent. As usual, when it comes to making smart conclusions, you need to turn on the third screen on your office desk to be able to view all those graphs and pies. The challenge was, how the hell we compute the data from those data sets with more than 10M records and organize everything together? How do we export that data for further analyses? We couldn’t go with excel sheet exports (who tried, knows) nor to display this data without reinventing the wheel.

That is when we found Power BI. At the beginning I was skeptical. However, we managed to connect our production database with Power BI in a few minutes, through a remote connection. We managed to create all the reports we needed as well setup some “on the fly” calculations pretty quickly as well.

It took another few weeks for us to create data mining scripts, using the leverage of the easy integration with R. Once again, Power BI was simply amazing. Combined with Azure, we managed to embed all the reports within the web application and transfer the great experience we were getting on the Desktop app to our users. Even though the CLI they have released is a bit buggy, I used it to build a PHP wrapper on top of it.

In the end, it turned out that most of our business model is driven by Power BI, something I couldn’t believe would happen.

Power BI amazed me and, considering the rest of the positive changes Microsoft did in the last few years, from completely transforming the IE, through TypeScript to the Cognitive services and the rest of the developer friendly tools, I am starting to believe they are back to empowering every person and every organization to achieve more. Good job!