Microsoft has injected its cloud-based productivity suite Office365 with business intelligence features that enable companies to analyse and visualise data from within Excel.
In a company blogpost, Microsoft says its upcoming Power BI release builds upon existing offerings PowerPivot, which is used for creating and customising flexible data models within Excel, and PowerView, which allows users to create interactive charts and graphs.
Other services have been renamed and given new functions. Power Query, formerly known as Data Explorer, now lets users search and access data from their organisations and public sources from within Excel. Geoflow, a 3D data visualisation tool used for mapping, has been renamed PowerMap.
Microsoft is also aiming to give organisations' IT workers the ability to become 'data stewards', so users can get access to published data sets based on a colleague's credentials. Users can then track who's accesing data sets to identify which ones are valuable to different departments.
Microsoft says Power BI extends beyond anything that can be offered on premise through the inclusion of Power BI Sites, dedicated collaborative workspaces in Office365 that allow users to share data and insights with colleagues.
It is also aiming to push customers toward its cloud-based Office service by developing dedicated native apps for Windows 8, Windows RT, and Apple's iPad, in addition to HTML5 support that allows the service to be viewed within a browser on any device.
Users can sign up for a preview of Power BI here, and Microsoft says it will reveal pricing in due course.