Welcome to episode four of the “Building on the Awesense Platform” series. This is a multi-part series, where we showcase the power of the Awesense Digital Energy Platform, the Awesense Data Engine, and the Awesense Open Energy Data Model. In this series we show you how these features can be used to rapidly build, test, and prototype energy-focused applications and analytics using a variety of software tools and techniques. In this episode specifically, we discuss Business Intelligence Tools (BI Tools).
If “why am I starting on episode four” was the first thought you had from reading the previous paragraph, we suggest you go back in time and check out some of our earlier content. This series is meant to help you build not just applications, but also to gradually demonstrate different techniques for application design from least to most complex. If you haven’t read the first article in this series, we suggest you start here, and if you aren’t sure where you left off, you can find all the articles in this series here.
So what are Business Intelligence Tools (BI Tools)?
BI Tools are any tools that amass and congregate large amounts of organizational data to help people ease the decision-making process. This is really just a way of saying, it’s a tool that organizes and visualizes your data and makes it easier to read into it.
What’s so great about these BI Tools?
What we love about working with BI Tools is that they’re so simple to work with! Often containing the best elements of Low and No Code development, they align with a core Awesense value, democratization of information. That said, some knowledge of SQL will definitely smoothen your transition into becoming a BI Tool expert!
Aside from the fact that they’re making data more accessible to a wider audience, BI Tools are primarily used to visualize data, build dashboards, and reports. This means that data can now be understood in a more digestible way and people can use that information to make clear decisions for their organization.
Who uses BI Tools?
Knowledge of any of the major BI tools is a must-know skill for any Data Analyst- we can confidently say that BI tools play an important step in their professional development curve. That’s why we recommend taking the time to familiarize yourself with a BI Tool.
And it’s not just Data Analysts that need knowledge of BI Tools, these days everyone and their grandmother are becoming BI Tool experts with access to free online educational content! Not ready for granny to take your job? Better enhance your knowledge of BI Tools and keep reading!
Here at Awesense, we believe in the power of data. That’s why we recommend using BI Tools, despite our powerful flexible charting features. No matter the situation, BI Tools often have a unique component to offer and can enhance your understanding of data in different ways. With lots of visualization options and widgets, BI Tools are an essential part of building energy-focused analytics!
Common BI Tool Applications
Some common big names in the BI Tool space include Power BI, Tableau, AWS Quicksight, Qlik and Google Looker. Awesense’s TGI Platform integrates easily with all of these, but today we’ll be doing a deeper dive into Microsoft’s market leader, Power BI.
Power BI and How It Changed the Game
Power BI is a name that sticks out. I mean it’s tough to have power in your name and not let it get to your head! But in the case of Microsoft, they’ve put their money where their mouth is. As of 2016, Power BI served a whopping five million subscribers. That was five years ago. Let that sink in.
What does that mean for you though? That means that the incredibly wide user base provides a range of resources from both official releases as well as community support forums that often outpace developer patches. Think of the community of Power BI users as the ultimate source of knowledge and expertise.
With a wide range of capabilities, a strong reputation and support team, and a powerful product, we love Power BI! No, we promise Microsoft didn’t ask us to say that! Like proud parents, we love all BI Tools equally.
Seeing Is Believing
You can read about BI Tools all day without ever knowing what the heck they actually are, so we want to make sure we educate you the right way. So let’s go through our step-by-step example and show you how we do things around here!
Here’s a common dashboard you might create to gain an overview of a variety of sensor devices in your energy system:
Pretty cool, right? With Power BI you can connect to your Awesense database via URL:
From here it’s easy, just sign in using your credentials (but keep those secure) and away you go!
At this point, you can now interact with various charts and start playing around with the different functions that Power BI offers! This chart here displays consumption data in kWh from metering devices.
Is this chart a bit bland for your taste? Not to worry, all of these charts can be chopped and changed around, think of them as sophisticated Lego blocks!
Not just that, but you can use Power BI to display data from different time ranges and different sources too. Take a look at the tables on the right-hand side of the page where the chart is pulling information from. These tables are accessible directly from the database with all of your data already populated! How cool is that?
Don’t want to live in the past too much? No problem, if you want to build a new chart, you can easily do that too. For example, here we created a chart that shows the breakdown between the number of consumers in your service territory, and the number of transformers. Just click on a pie chart and select the two variables you want to analyze- it’s as easy as pie (or a pie chart in this case)!
The Power of BI Tools
Chart building in Power BI and other BI tools can range from very simplistic, to very advanced. The beauty of using BI tools is that analysts can create complex charts and dashboards for non-data-savvy users and share those with them. This approach allows you to share crucial information with a wider audience, leading to a more holistic perspective on any issue your organization faces.
Decision-makers use this to have a data-driven approach to their decision-making, resulting in a much more streamlined and informed process. If there are questions you need answered, it’s likely you can get them answered through data, and it’s likely that a BI tool can help make that difference. Data is a big part of our future, and the better we use it, the more we can shape a better tomorrow for our loved ones.
Not sure where to start with all that data? If you have an issue with your system or organization, come chat with us, and we can help strategize on finding the best way to answer it. After all, we’re here to help!
Rewarding Your Patience
We love how patient you, our technical readers, have been, as we have taken the past few weeks to ramp up this series. Each piece has slowly combined aspects of the previous one, to help build a solid foundation of technical knowledge for non-technical individuals. In episode five, we’ll be making a bit of a bigger step when we discuss platform Notebooks like Jupyter Notebook & Apache Zeppelin.
Don’t get nervous non-technical folk! We are confident that you are well equipped to handle this series, that’s why we worked so hard to get you here. Similar to the proud parents we referenced earlier, we’re immensely proud of your progress!
We are so excited to continue educating you on the capabilities of the Awesense Digital Energy Platform, and we’re confident that anyone can learn what we are trying to teach here.
We love connecting, and we would love for you to share our content! Follow along with this series and let us know what ideas YOU would like to see us write about. Whether it’s more content about the topics we’ve already written on or even a specific use case or tool you would like to know more about, let us know.
If you or your team are interested in building a custom application using the Awesense Platform, or you have an analytical tool we should demonstrate with our platform, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.