Manufacturers have had to endure and witness much change in recent times. The unpredictable years that followed the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 have been preceded by the unprecedented explosion in growth across various forms of technology.
My name is Michael Hamer, Virtual IT Director at Netitude Ltd, and today, I'm going to explain how Microsoft Power BI has the potential to become a revolutionary tool for manufacturers and businesspeople alike in the modern workplace.
What is Business Data?
To successfully interpret the power and the potential of Power BI, a predominantly data-driven tool, let's first look at what business data is. According to Indeed, business data is the collective information related to a company and its operations. This can include any statistical information, raw analytical data, customer feedback data, sales numbers and other sets of information.
Businesses and manufacturers alike need to place themselves in a position to leverage these data points accordingly; that's where Power BI comes in handy. Instead of adopting a more rigid and outdated approach that can prove to be often laborious, time-consuming and frustrating, businesses can capture business-critical data in seconds.
Overview of Microsoft BI
Power BI is a convenient tool comprising a collection of tools and applications that all interlink to turn disjointed pieces of data into information and data sets that can be leveraged to get the most out of organisational operations. This data can be tracked and recorded across the Microsoft 365 suite, including, but not limited to, being pulled from an Excel spreadsheet, for instance.
Power BI Capabilities
Power BI is made up of three key components that can be integrated seamlessly:
- Power BI Desktop: This free-to-use feature can be installed on your computer and accessed via desktop. It's a great tool that allows users to transform and visualise data points whilst connecting to multiple data sources, which can be combined into a data model.
- Power BI Service: The Power BI Service does exactly as you'd expect; it acts as the software as a service (SaaS) part of Power BI. Here, you can create various reports and dashboards, helping users to keep track of the data that matters for your business. What's more, Power BI Service allows you to share your findings with others seamlessly - arguably its most notable feature.
- Power BI Mobile Apps: Power BI can be accessed via various mobile devices such as iOS and Android. These apps enable users to engage with their cloud and on-premises data whilst on the go; company dashboards and reporting statistics can be accessed virtually everywhere.
Each component combines to make Microsoft Power BI a comprehensive data visualisation tool. By getting the most out of the tool and using all three main components correctly, users should be able to easily connect with, analyse, visualise, and share data so that 365 users can, at the very least, meet and, in most cases, exceed business needs.
The Role of Data in Manufacturing
The role that data plays in manufacturing cannot be understated. Especially in this technologically-driven fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) that we find ourselves within in 2024.
The Industry 4.0 wave has seen some huge strides being made across the board from a technological standpoint. Manufacturers have benefitted from revolutionary technologies such as Smart Factories, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Predictive maintenance, all of which have come to the fore. Their introduction has led to an improvement in operational efficiency and has seen manufacturing costs being reduced drastically.
With the rapid growth and increased affordability of technological devices, the number of internet users surges annually. This culminated in 5.18 billion people clocking onto the internet in April 2023 (approximately 64.6% of the population). Business 2 Community went on to state that 'according to the most recent estimates made by Statista in 2020, 328.77 million terabytes of data are created every day in 2023'. This statistic puts into perspective just how much data is generated daily worldwide. However, most of the generated data goes to waste if users do not find methods of capturing, analysing and acting upon the data.
Data plays a significant role in each and every single aspect of manufacturing, with its influence being bolstered even further by the fourth industrial evolution. Data and connectivity analytics are located right at the heart of this digitalised wave, which is set to dramatically impact how we live, work and relate with one another.
The realm of real-time data has arrived, and due to the rapid acceleration in technology, machines can now connect and interact with each other in a mirrored fashion to how Power BI's components integrate.
The manufacturing industry is a sector built upon fine margins. Production costs, market volatility, and innovational change can alter these margins and, thus, skew the net profit margins and percentages of manufacturers. However, tools such as Power BI and Industry 4.0 play into the hands of those businesses that are brave and bold enough to use them.
Uncovering the hidden potential of Power BI and successfully riding the fourth industrial wave will help businesses and manufacturers make informed business decisions by increasing revenues, improving efficiencies, and reducing operational costs across the board.
Benefits of Power BI in Manufacturing
Listed below are just some of the benefits manufacturing businesses could reap from using Microsoft's Power BI tool.
- Transforming Manufacturing: Power BI can transform manufacturing from the shop floor to the customer door. It also has the potential to reshape how manufacturers engage their customers by leveraging unique data points to make informed business decisions and advanced analytics for proactive insights.
- Empowering the Workforce: In the modern workplace, decision-makers must quickly make informed business decisions regarding data. They can only do that if they have the right tools for the job, and Power BI certainly delivers on that front.
- Enhancing Efficiencies: One of the primary goals of a manufacturer is to enhance efficiencies across the organisation. Power BI's array of features can provide businesses with a comprehensive list of benefits, including increased performance, assessing and identifying changing consumer needs, and planning for future demand.
- Integration with Industry 4.0: As I mentioned previously, the benefits of Power BI in manufacturing go hand in hand with the proliferation of benefits that the fourth industrial revolution has brought forth. If combined and utilised correctly, Power BI can provide manufacturers with the ability to collect, store, visualise and utilise data in the day-to-day operations of their factories.
- Improving Forecasting: Power BI enables manufacturers to be proactive in their approach to business. They can prepare for the future by creating various reports concerning business-critical areas such as production/sales/operations, etc., and will also have the ability to forecast more accurate predictions in the future.
All in all, Microsoft's Power BI is a safe bet for every manufacturer in the modern workplace. Leveraging the tool effectively will help organisations stay one step ahead of their competitors by increasing their profit margins and improving the overall efficiencies of their approach towards business.
However, to get the most out of Power BI, businesses must identify the potential deficiencies, opportunities and vulnerabilities within their organisation. Therefore, before adopting any new technological tools or strategies, book a Readiness Audit with Netitude today!
Doing so will provide your business with a clear action plan and will give you a detailed and structured guide to achieve your business' desired outcomes. But don't worry; we'll be with you every step of the way!