Analytics on the go with Power BI

Written by Natalie Afshar

With the Power BI app available on phones and tablets, you can quickly seek out answers to the questions you have while on the go. See this video of Broadclyst School in the UK who have been using predictive analytics with Power BI to group students according to specific needs, and allow teachers to deliver lessons based on a child’s learning style. This information is available on the go to teachers who have the Power BI app, and is updated in real time through the cloud.

Or see this video of EIS Education in the US who are using analytics through Power BI to let superintendents easily access student grades, test scores and school financial data in real time, as they are on the go and making visits to schools in the district. As mentioned in the video, we live in a world of accountability, where many decisions are driven by information about student performance. Giving superintendents the power to have this information at their fingertips allows them to make better decisions.

These are some ways that you can come to tell and share stories and insights through data. Power BI gives you more choice in the way you consume and create reports and data, allowing you to easily access the information you need in one single space. You can quickly find answers, even while on the go, to the questions that you have and access and share it on all workspaces. It allows you to have the right data on hand, in an interactive visually engaging form from any device and from any location – to make sure that when you’re making decisions or providing information, it’s based on the latest data sets.

You can also ask questions of your data using natural language. This is a great video by Ray Fleming on how you can use Power BI to answer questions about data.

Using an example from the Queensland government’s Open Data sites as well as the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census 2011 summaries, Ray show how you can ask questions in natural language from the database such as on ‘enrolments by geographical region’ or by school type or local government area.

Ray also goes on to show how you can ask questions such as the average proportion of adults who are graduates in a geographic region vs the NAPLAN results of year 5 students. As the below screenshot shows, there is a correlation between adult residents who are graduates and school NAPLAN scores.

With the Cortana integration for Power BI you can quickly find and view your Power BI data on desktop using Cortana. All you have to do is ask Cortana questions using keywords or titles, and Cortana can find you answers in dashboards that you own or those that have been shared with you. It also has the ability to provide recommendations to users based on past searches to easily locate content. The underlying technology uses Microsoft’s Azure Search Service – read here to learn more about how to set it up.

So how secure is Power BI? Power BI is built on Azure and comes with all the enhanced security features of Microsoft’s cloud service. Microsoft Azure provides a secure low cost hosted infrastructure. Instead of your district managing software and hardware, Microsoft will manage that for you in one of our many data centres, managed by a team of highly trained security experts who will ensure the highly sensitive student data will stay safe. You can make your data as secure as you like, giving permissions to the data according to the permissions that people have specific information.  You can read more about the security features of Power BI here and download the Power BI security whitepaper.

Here are some links to previous blog posts with answers to common questions such as

“Where can I get some Power BI training?” , as well as free Power BI training sources and the free Power BI book from Microsoft Press.  

Here is also a link to “How to create a Power BI dashboard in a day” for ways to use Power BI in education, and how to create a simple dashboard that can be used as a decision support tool for meetings, or for a live stream map of student movement around your university campus.


Our mission at Microsoft is to equip and empower educators to shape and assure the success of every student. Any teacher can join our effort with free Office 365 Education, find affordable Windows devices and connect with others on the Educator Community for free training and classroom resources. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for our latest updates.