Are you still excelling or are you already Power BI’ing? – Part 3

This is the third article in our blog series on the topic of data analysis and KPIs in the areas of marketing, sales, service and commerce using Microsoft Power BI. The data source SAP will also be an important part of this. Join us on a journey through the Power BI cosmos from first insights into existing tools to a more intensive look at use cases.

Are you still exceling or are you already Power BIing? Click here for Part 1 and Part 2 of the blog post series.

Power BI vs Excel

Do you remember Tony Stark and Pepper Potts – the characters from our first and second blog posts?

Pepper Potts, Head of Business Intelligence at Workforce Machinery, leads a team of data engineers, analysts and project managers. She is a champion of the data culture and is helping to evolve the company into a Data-Driven Company. Her team is not only responsible for data engineering, data modeling and data visualization, but is also instrumental in ensuring that users are using Power BI correctly. With training courses, she wants to ensure that users do not have to approach the BI department for every requirement, but can become active themselves.

Self Service Approach with Excel vs. Power BI

Tony Stark, now in the management of Workforce Machinery, always has new requirements for his analyses and evaluations and has to spend a lot of time preparing and visualizing his Excel-based reports. For simple adjustments to existing reports, Tony Stark is able to make ad hoc adjustments in Excel himself. But for more complex issues, he often has to call in colleagues from the “former” controlling department so that they can then prepare an analysis for him. The process looks like this: He has to explain his requirements to the data analyst every time, the analyst has to understand the requirements and implement them afterwards. With new analysis requirements, this process starts anew.

But what does the self-service approach look like with Power BI?

First of all, there must be no illusion that a BI tool can fulfill all requirements at the push of a button or that new requirements can be implemented automatically. Here, too, it is important to define the requirements in advance. Power BI is particularly worthwhile when standardized analyses and reports are required, such as a performance tracker that shows the current target achievement of individual persons or sales departments, or the presentation of year-over-year comparisons of incoming orders and sales potential.

A BI tool, such as Microsoft Power BI, however, offers users some additional analysis options within a completed report that enable a certain level of self-service. The easiest way to do this would be to use filter functionalities, drill down or drill through capabilities within a report. But also through other visualizations and functions self service possibilities can be provided in Power BI.


It is possible using Power BI Desktop and the Power BI service to create engaging report tooltips that are displayed when you hover the mouse cursor over visual elements. An example of this would be a report with a world map showing sales in the current year in different colors. By using ToolTips, one can display additional information such as sales over the years. In addition, functions such as Drill Through and Drill Down can be used to break down evaluations to a more detailed level.

  • Drill Down:
    A drill down allows data with hierarchies to be broken down to a lower level. For example, you can have a chart that shows sales by year, quarter, as well as months. By default, the chart shows sales by year. However, since there is a date hierarchy, selecting an element (such as selecting a year) will display an increasingly detailed picture. In this case, the sales are broken down by quarter.
  • Drill Through:
    With a Drill Through page, you have the ability to navigate from a report page to another target page that focuses on a specific data point/entity, such as a customer, newsletter, or product. When your report consumers right-click on a data point on the source report pages and drill through, the target page is filtered by just that context.

    Example Sales: If there is an analysis with aggregation of sales by customer, a drill through will allow you to jump to a detail view that shows more detailed information about that specific customer.

    Example marketing: If there is an analysis of sent newsletters with important key figures, you can jump to a specific newsletter with a drill through and analyze it in more detail.

  • Field Parameter:
    With the new functionality of the “field parameters”, the report creator can offer the user/consumer another possibility to flexibly build up evaluations and to analyze the data more deeply. Field parameters can be used, for example, to select the columns within a table in the report itself. The user can thus decide for himself which contents (columns) he would like to see in the analysis or not.
  • Decomposition Tree:
    The Decomposition Tree also allows users to independently influence the analysis context and build their own “tree decomposition”.
    An example could be the analysis of the company profit. At each level of the tree, the user has the option to select parameters and can thus build an in-depth analysis that can be adjusted as needed with just a few clicks. All in the context of self-service.

Another benefit is the analysis of data from the Power BI Service in Excel. Data tables and visualizations can be exported directly from the Power BI service to Excel or data from the data set can be imported into Excel.

In summary, Microsoft Power BI provides users with a comprehensive set of options to analyze data on their own. However, it is important to plan and use these self-service features carefully.

With Microsoft Power BI, you not only have the ability to analyze your data to make fact-based decisions, but you are also able to make your processes more efficient.

We, the itmX Business Intelligence team, see ourselves as process and analytics experts with a focus on the areas of marketing, sales, service and commerce with a strong technological understanding in the worlds of Microsoft and SAP. SAP ERP ECC, S/4HANA or SAP BW is the starting point for most of our customers, as this is where all relevant company data is usually located. However, additional data sources, such as web-based additional tools, SQL servers, SharePoint lists or even simple flat files (.xml, .json, .csv) are also part of our daily work.

Sounds interesting?

We, the itmX Business Intelligence Team, see ourselves as process experts mainly in the areas of marketing (analytics), sales (analytics), service (analytics) and commerce (analytics) with a strong technological understanding in the worlds of Microsoft and SAP. SAP ECC, S/4HANA or SAP BW is the starting point for most of our customers, as this is where all relevant company data is usually located.

If you need more information about Microsoft Power BI, data integration with SAP, marketing tools such as Google Analytics or process optimization along your customer journey, please contact me.

We will be happy to help you.

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Do you already know our podcast?

“Modern Work in Marketing, Sales & Service – the CRM podcast for SAP customers”.

In Episode #10 and #12 we talk about the Microsoft Power Platform and Power BI – there you will get some more exciting insights.

About the author

Ahmet Akbay
Ahmet AkbayBusiness Intelligence Consultant, itmX GmbH
As a certified Microsoft Data Analyst Associate, Ahmet is the expert in data extraction, preparation, visualization and analysis. Every day he deals with Power BI and together with an enthusiastic team he develops versatile Power BI dashboards that help our customers to optimize their processes and make the right decisions driven by data.

About the author