The Power BI preview released by Microsoft in Convergence provided a great tool to quickly make sense of large amounts of data. Power BI does all the heavy lifting and provides a quick and easy way to interact with the data. As promised by Microsoft with the release of Dynamics CRM Online 2015 Update 1 CRM is now available within PowerBI alongside SalesForce & Google Analytics to gather data and provide data analysis. As of publishing this article the Power BI Dynamics CRM connector will only work with Dynamics CRM Online, it will not work with an on premise CRM installation, hopefully the on premise connectivity is not too far.
Specific detail on how to connect to Dynamics CRM from within Power BI can be found at https://support.powerbi.com/knowledgebase/articles/462791-microsoft-dynamics-crm
As listed in the documentation in the above link, you have to provide the oData URL for your CRM Online instance and select “oAuth2” as the authentication method to connect to CRM Online. In 2 simple steps Power BI connects to CRM Online and creates the Sales Manager dashboard automatically for you. It will take some time to import the relevant data and you can then see the dataset, report and dashboard that it creates automatically.
The dashboard has multiple tiles which you can resize and relabel, each of these tiles represent a report and when you click on any of them it will expand that tile into a report which gives you further functionality to modify the charts, lists in the report. Here you can create new reports using the dataset that was initially created with the CRM connection, the components of the report are mostly pivot charts and the experience is the same as you are creating pivot charts within Excel.
As of now the dataset that gets setup when creating the CRM connection is restricted to the following entities: Account, Activity, Business Unit, Competitor, Date, Lead, Opportunity Close, Opportunity Product, Opportunity, Product and User. I hope the Sales and Service related entities also get added soon to be able to create Service dashboard.
The really cool feature within Power BI is the ability to ask a question to the dashboard and it responding with relevant data or chart. So in the Sales Manager dashboard you can ask a question regarding revenue or open opportunities and it can give you suggested queries to ask as well. As you can see in the screenshot that even if you type “Open” it can suggest the queries like open revenue or open count of activities and display the dataset immediately. Once a dashboard is created you can easily have it displayed within Dynamics CRM so that users don’t even have to leave CRM to view them.
Power BI is in its preview release and the current dashboard and dataset is its first connection to Dynamics CRM 2015. The scope of Dynamics CRM within Power BI has to grow a lot more considering it’s the same Microsoft family and for it to become a robust data analysis tool or CRM.
DAVE VORA | Senior Business Software Consultant and CRM Lead
Dave is responsible for leading KTL’s CRM consultants, assuring that our solution scoping, architecting and delivery meet and exceed customer expectations. Dave has built lasting relationships with clients by understanding their business needs and providing value by leveraging their existing resources. Along with his consulting team, he has delivered effective solutions beyond traditional CRM constraints. Dave has more than eight years of experience in implementing business software for a variety of industries including service, government, distribution, not-for-profit and manufacturing. He graduated with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Computer Science and also a specialization in Management from University of California at Irvine. His experience includes helping companies embrace technology to fulfill their organizational needs and creating innovative solutions using CRM, GP, Scribe and other Microsoft products.