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  • Kristen Holmes

Feature Focus: Microsoft Power BI Q&A

Updated: May 17, 2019

Available to you with the purchase of an Office 365 licence, Microsoft Power BI (Business Intelligence) is the reporting tool you’ve been waiting for. With Power BI, you can visualize your business data in an intelligent, easy to understand format – one that that can be presented, shared, analyzed, manipulated and questioned using a simple and user friendly cloud based interface. That’s right, cloud based – so of course available anytime, anywhere and on any device or computer.

Have a question about your business? Just ask.

We are always asking questions about our business so that we can decide what to do next. What product are we going to push? What services are our customers most interested in? Which store is making the most profit? Which salesperson sold the most units last month?

One of the most impressive features of Power BI is the ability to use real language to query your data. Power BI’s natural language search, known as Q&A is an intelligent tool that will take a regularly phrased question and generate a dynamic and easy to interpret graphical report.

For example, let’s say Susan, owner of Southwood Medical Supply would like to know how many first aid kits were sold each month. To get the answer, Susan would simply access her Power BI dashboard and start typing in the “Ask a question about your data” box. She might enter something like, “How many First Aid kit units were sold by month?" To make things even easier, as you type, Q&A will help out by making suggestions for fields that you’re interested in based on the words you enter.

So, when Susan types “First Aid” Power BI recognizes it from the data and will even provide options if there is more than one field that comes up as a match (For example, First Aid Kit 1122 and First Aid Kit 3452). It will even help with spelling corrections and auto completing commonly used words and phrases.

As your question takes shape, Q&A will dynamically generate a visual such as a bar chart or scatter chart so you can get your results instantly.

If you decide that this is a report that you want to see regularly, you can add it to your Power BI dashboard by clicking on the pushpin in the top right corner. Simple as that. Now, when you log in, you can quickly view the information that you need in a simple and easy to analyze format.

Power BI is included with an Office 365 License so if you are already using Office 365, you already have this powerful feature. You can easily connect Power BI to an Excel workbook in a matter of seconds and experiment with Q&A. Before you do this, it’s important to make sure that the data in your Excel workbook is ready. This doesn’t take long and will ensure that you can really make the most of Power BI’s Q&A feature.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Is Your Data in a Table Format?

In order for Power BI to read the data in your Excel Workbook, it needs to be in a table format.

To format data in a table:

Open the Worksheet in the Spreadsheet.Select the range of cells that contain your data.Select Control-T. The data will be formatted as a table with sortable columns.

Make Sure Column Headings Make Sense

Since the Q&A Feature recognizes regular English, it’s important that your column headings consist of words that a person might use to ask their question. For example, use words like “Monthly Budget” and “Amount” instead of “Mthly Bud” or “Amt”

Power BI is an exciting tool that can help you to get a true sense of the health of your business and make better and more informed decisions about how to take your business further. We hope this article helped you to understand this very impressive feature. If you have any other questions about the Power BI Q&A feature or any other Power BI features, we would be happy to help. We can be reached at (705) 728-1190 or

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