The mining of big data to extract valuable business insights is touted to become one of the most sought-after services of 2014 and beyond, as it allows businesses to optimise their operations.

Microsoft now offers companies the software tools they need to help them make the right decisions as easily, quickly and cost-effectively as possible thanks to the availability of Power BI for Office365.

This software enables businesses to use the world’s most popular office productivity software tools such as Excel that they are already utilise on a daily basis, to perform business intelligence (BI) functions.

Power BI can be deployed within an organisation in one of two ways, either on-premise or over the cloud. The cloud-based edition offers companies an affordable subscription-based payment model that is priced per user per month and billed annually. Another option is on-premise deployment which is suitable for businesses that prefer to host their services from behind the security of their company firewall.

Besides the ability to mine data to extract business value, Microsoft also empowers companies to arrive at their insights faster by delivering a platform that speeds up how users access, analyse, clean and shape both internal as well as external data.

The devices and services company has made SQL Server 2014, the latest version of its data platform available for users to purchase and download. This software enables users to build mission-critical applications as well as big data solutions by using high-performance, in-memory technology across OLTP (online transaction processing), data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics workloads, without having to purchase expensive add-ons.

SQL Server 2014 uses a common set of tools to deploy and manage databases both on-premise and in the cloud, which makes it easier for customers to take advantage of the cloud by making use of their existing skills.

“The powerful combination of Power BI for Office 365 and SQL Server 2014 makes it is easy to connect every user within an organisation to the right data they need to make better decisions, faster,” says Leon Wright, Server and Tools Business Group Lead at Microsoft South Africa.

Customers can build these modern BI solutions on-premise using SQL Server, SharePoint and Excel or simply subscribe to Power BI for Office 365 in order to let Microsoft manage the infrastructure on their behalf, so that they are able to focus on discovering new insights.

“There is a great opportunity to grow your business by utilising business intelligence to put your data to work, making better decisions faster, focusing on the right opportunities, and winning more business,” Wright adds.