Unlocking Self-Service Analytics with Microsoft Fabric
Enabling self-service data analytics often lands organizations in a dilemma: the need to empower business users versus the necessity to maintain data quality and consistency. The root cause? Disparate analytics services, resulting in data sprawl, duplication, and inconsistency, which could escalate into inaccurate insights, security threats, compliance issues, or wasted resources.
In this post, we will show you how you can overcome this challenge with Microsoft Fabric, a new analytics platform that provides a unified data foundation for your entire organization. Microsoft Fabric helps you connect and curate data from any source and any format, enable self-service analytics for business users within their familiar Microsoft 365 apps, and support data governance and security across the entire analytics platform.
Key takeaways from this post include:
- Unified Data Foundation: How Microsoft Fabric provides a unified data foundation that helps data engineers connect and curate data from different sources, eliminating sprawl and creating custom views for everyone.
- Self-Service Analytics: How Microsoft Fabric allows business users to access and analyze data from within Microsoft 365 apps, such as Excel and Teams, using natural language queries and interactive visualizations.
- Data Governance and Security: How Microsoft Fabric supports data governance and security across the entire analytics platform, giving data stewards additional control with built-in features and compliance.
By learning how to use Microsoft Fabric as your single analytics platform, you can simplify your data management and governance, empower your business users to act on insights faster and easier, and enhance your data quality and consistency across the board. This will help you achieve your business goals, optimize your performance, and gain a competitive edge in the market.
1. Building a Unified Data Foundation with Microsoft Fabric
Data is the lifeblood of any business, but it can also be a source of frustration and complexity when it is scattered across different systems, formats, and locations. Having a unified data foundation means that you can access and analyze all your data in one place, without having to worry about data integration, transformation, or duplication issues. According to a survey by Harvard Business Review, 47% of business leaders say their biggest challenge with data is ensuring data quality and accuracy across sources. This survey was conducted in 2017, and the results still hold true!
Importing and centrally storing data from any source and format in OneLake
- With Microsoft Fabric, you can simplify your data management and governance by importing data from any source and any format and storing it centrally in OneLake.
- One way of loading OneLake is using Data Factory to create data pipelines that can move and transform data from various sources into Microsoft Fabric. This way, you can eliminate data sprawl and create custom views for everyone in your organization.
A common challenge for many businesses is utilizing multiple analytics services that are not integrated or aligned with each other, resulting in data silos, inconsistencies, and inefficiencies.
Microsoft Fabric provides a single analytics platform that integrates Power BI, Synapse, Data Factory, Data Activator, and Real-Time Analytics. Microsoft’s engineering team rearchitected Power BI and Synapse to work seamlessly together, as they share a common storage (OneLake) and a common file format (Delta Lake). Power BI can even sit right on top of OneLake; it’s called Direct Lake mode. This way, you can leverage the best of each service while ensuring data quality and consistency across the board.
Example: If you want to create a Power BI report that uses data from Azure Data Lake Storage and Azure SQL Database, you can use Data Factory to ingest the data into Microsoft Fabric, and then use Synapse to enrich and transform the data with SQL stored procedures. You can then put Power BI directly on top of OneLake using Direct Lake mode.
2. Empowering Business Users through Self-Service Analytics
Data analysis is not only for data experts or analysts. It is also for business users who need to make informed decisions based on data insights. Enabling self-service analytics for business users means they can get answers to their questions faster and easier, without relying on IT or waiting for reports. It also means they can explore and discover new insights from the data themselves, without being limited by predefined queries or dashboards. According to a report by Gartner, augmented analytics will be a dominant driver of new purchases of analytics and business intelligence as well as data science and machine learning platforms.
Enable data access and analysis within Microsoft 365 apps like Excel and Teams
- With Microsoft Fabric, you can empower your business users to access and analyze data from within their familiar Microsoft 365 apps, such as Excel and Teams.
- You can also use natural language queries and interactive visualizations to make data analysis more intuitive and engaging, as well as AI-powered capabilities such as Data Activator to automatically generate insights and trigger actions from your data with no-code or low-code solutions.
A common mistake many businesses make is to assume that self-service analytics means giving up control or oversight over the data. This can lead to security risks, compliance issues, or inaccurate results. Microsoft Fabric’s built-in governance and compliance features, such as information protection, data loss prevention, endorsement, metadata scanning, lineage, and audit logs ensure that your data is protected, monitored, and managed across the entire self-service analytics lifecycle.
Example: If you want to analyze sales performance by region using Excel, you can connect to Microsoft Fabric’s OneLake as your data source and use natural language queries to ask questions like “What is the average revenue per customer in North America?” You can then see the results in an interactive chart that you can customize and share with others.
You can also apply sensitivity labels on the Power BI dataset which ensures those sensitivity labels flow all the way through reports and business users analyzing data in Excel to protect your data from unauthorized access or misuse.
3. Fortifying Data Governance and Security with Microsoft Fabric
Data governance and security are not optional or nice-to-have. They are essential and mandatory for any business that wants to use data effectively and responsibly. Having a robust data governance and security framework means that you can ensure that your data is trustworthy, reliable, and compliant with your organization’s policies and regulations. It also means that you can reduce the risks of data breaches, leaks, or misuse that can damage your reputation, customer trust, or bottom line. According to a study by IBM, the average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million, which is up 15% from 2020.
Enhance data governance and security with built-in features and compliance powered by Microsoft Purview
- You can use Purview to discover, catalog, and classify your data assets across Microsoft Fabric and other sources.
- You can also use Purview to monitor and audit your data activities, enforce data policies, and generate compliance reports.
Many organizations treat data governance and security as a one-time project or a separate function – which is a big mistake. This can lead to gaps, inconsistencies, or conflicts in your data strategy and execution. Microsoft Fabric, since it is an integrated analytics platform, supports data governance and security across the entire data lifecycle.
Example: If you want to track the lineage of your data from source to destination using Microsoft Fabric, you can use Purview to visualize the data flow and dependencies across different Fabric services and items. You can also use Purview to see the sensitivity labels, endorsements, and metadata of each item along the way. This way, you can understand the origin, quality, and usage of your data at any point in time.
With Microsoft Fabric, you can ensure that your data is well-managed, well-protected, and well-aligned with your organization’s goals and standards.
We hope this post has helped you learn how Microsoft Fabric enables self-service analytics for business users without compromising data quality and consistency. If you want to learn more about Microsoft Fabric or try it out for yourself, you can visit the Microsoft Fabric website or request a demo with us.
Thank you for reading!