Getting the most out of your data ultimately depends on how accessible and actionable the insights are to stakeholders across the business. If your organization is dealing with multiple product dashboards, the context-switching and training time can get in the way of actual insight. However, building your own consolidated dashboards from scratch can be time-consuming and cost-prohibitive, and leave you with inflexible solutions.

In this segment, our team demonstrates how leveraging Power BI’s embedded reporting inside of your own apps can make a huge difference in terms of time, money, and flexibility. Workify’s Evan Brooks draws from his team’s experience to:

  • Walk you through the considerations that led them to dive deep on Power BI’s embedded capabilities
  • Give you a live demonstration of how to navigate and customize embedded reports
  • Describe exactly how embedded reporting increased the value that Workify’s clients gain from their reporting apps

If you’re worried about getting in over your head, the nice thing about Power BI is that you can go as deep as you want: Start simple, then work up to a fully integrated experience. If you’re interested in that kind of flexibility, give this a watch! And if we can help you put these ideas into action, email us: reporting@headspring.com.


Transcript

Garo Yerizarian: All right. Welcome back everybody. We’re back again with Evan Brooks and Glenn Burnside to talk about embedded reporting with Power BI and to see how you can potentially use this to improve your visualization and your information in your organizations.

So, going a little bit into it, Evan. So you talked about how your team took Power BI and you went from using the existing web portal model to then Power BI embedded inside of the Workify product. What drove the decision to move into that direction?

Evan Brooks:  That’s a good question Garo. Really there’s kind of two main things that drove this decision for us. The first one being scale and the second one being our customers.

So starting with scale, you know, we realized early on that that hand rolling reporting was going to take too long, it was going to cost too much, not to mention modifying them and kind of maintaining the reports within the web app–that was just going to be kind of a never-ending cycle, so we offloaded that. We realized it wasn’t going to scale building it in the web app. So we offloaded it to Client Success.

And even after they started the Power BI, they went down this path of building custom reports for each client. You know, [the reports are] the same in a lot of ways cause they’re custom in some ways. And we got to the point where the maintenance of all those reports was becoming a lot.

We already had one person in a fulltime role working on just reporting. And it was getting to be too much for even a fulltime role. And then another thing that kind of went into this was using Power BI. You know, we still had to figure out a way to deliver this information to our clients. And so we had two methods of doing that: We would either use the Power BI reports and kind of cut them and put them into PowerPoints and present to our clients. Or, for some of our power users, we would give them Read Only accounts where they could come into the Power BI service and click through their data and, you know, filter and look at different data in different ways. Which was great, but we didn’t have a lot of adoption with that method. And it also introduced another scaling issue, which was having to maintain the accounts for all those different admins.

So I’ll bring us around to our customers now.That also introduced an issue where our customers not only had to go into Workify to do everything that we want them to do in there, but they also had to go into the Power BI service, or they had to, you know, receive their reporting via email. By going to embedded, it allowed us to meet our customers where they already were, which is exactly where we wanted them, which was in Workify. So that was a good play on our part to make it easier on our customers and make our product a little more sticky: Get them in there, get them doing their data within our web app, and helping them make decisions right there within Workify.

And then, the other thing on the customer front that we were really able to do—which also was a huge benefit as a team and as a business—is by moving into embedded, we’ve been able to leverage the data and the intelligence that we have access to in the web app in order to provide customization through the embedded experience instead of through, you know, having an altogether different Power BI report. So rather than having 80 different Power BI reports, one for each client, we’ve been able to standardize down to one report.

It’s kind of one report that rules them all that works for every client. And the only way we were able to do that is by having an understanding of what does this client want to view in their reporting for this specific survey. How should we be visualizing this data? And prior to the embedded reporting, we were doing that with a human making decisions on, you know, what do we want to put in this report?

Now we’re having the web app make those decisions and using the embedded functionality of the JavaScript API to only show them the things that they should see, the things that they want to see, and not the things that they don’t want to see. So we’re able to keep a level of customization by going to an embedded, but standardized data model, which really frees up our client success team to use that time for higher-value activities and add value to our customers.

That was pretty long. But yeah, the main two things, are scale and our customers. Those are the main factors that drove this move.

Garo Yerizarian: Yeah, I could definitely see that it sounds like moving from the the Power BI native interface — and I’ve used it a bunch of times before too — I can see like trying to get customers into that and trying to get them to see their information there, and have it feel like their information. It just not as easy to get across as when you have it embedded. But what I’m really interested in is, can you show us how that looks, you know, without showing any customer information, but using the sample? What does that look like to the end user? Like how much Power BI leaks through that?

Evan Brooks: Yeah. Well give me one second and I’ll pull up a demo for you.

Garo Yerizarian: Not to put you on the spot or anything!

Evan Brooks: No, no, we’re good. Let’s see. Can you guys see my screen? It should be an embedded Power BI report.

Yup. Okay. Good deal.

So this is our sandbox environment, so don’t worry, we’re not compromising any data here. But this is very, very close to exact to what our clients would see whenever they come in to view their reporting for a survey.

So a couple of things to note here: First, I’ll piggyback off what you said there, Garo: this looks like a really native experience, right?  There’s this kinda embedded report that doesn’t really look like a report. It doesn’t look like what you’re dealing with whenever you go into the Power BI service to manipulate a report.

So that’s great. It feels like Workify and it is Workify. So that’s what we wanted. And then the next thing I want to point out is the navigation. So all of these kind of top level navs over here on the left represent a page or multiple pages within the Power BI report. And then the tabs over here represent pages underneath the top level. So I’ve been able to use the JavaScript API that the Power BI embedded in provides. We can tap into the report and make intelligent decisions that are based on what is in the report. So for example, all this nav is driven by the tab names within the Power BI report itself.

Yeah, so we’ve got a naming convention, actually, to determine what’s the top level nav item and what goes in a tab underneath it. And we’re also able to reorder or hide certain pages just by a change to the Power BI report, rather than having to go make a code change, which is really great.

And I think that it’s more of a native ad experience, so you don’t  feel like you’re manipulating a Power BI report or navigating through a Power BI report,  and all the different ways you can do that. You’re using a native experience here, which I think makes it feel a lot better for our clients and make it feel like Workify, which is what they’re used to.

Glenn Burnside: And then you still get all, like the interaction and everything, right, though? Like all the Power BI interaction?

Evan Brooks: Yeah, so you still have the tool sets like you see here, and those are kind of spread throughout. You still have our filter pane over here where you can filter based off of different demographics or whatever we put in here. Again, this is all driven by the Power BI file itself. So if we wanted to go add another filter, we could throw it in the Power BI file, publish the report and now everyone has it. And that wouldn’t require a single code change, which is really great. As a developer, it’s really nice to be able to enhance our reporting experience without me having to do anything. Pretty hard to beat that to be honest.

So yeah, so just kind of the embedded, the kind of native feel that we’ve been able to achieve is great. And then I want to speak a little bit about the customization that I mentioned before. So we run an employee engagement business, and the core of our business there is sending surveys to our clients’ employees and gathering data and visualizing that data and giving insights on, you know, what they can be doing better, which teams need to improve, and stuff like that. And so, with that core business, sending surveys and gathering data, we also try to provide a level of customization. That’s one of our, our value propositions to our clients, is you don’t have to send our survey–you can–but if you want to ask them different questions, that’s fine too. And so, for example, not every survey is going to have all the same questions, and you might have a survey that doesn’t ask this retention question that we’re visualizing down here, or you might not want to ask eNPS. So not every survey has made this name not, they don’t have all the same questions, so they shouldn’t all be reported on in the same manner.

So the way that we solved that problem in the past is, you know, each client had a different report. We knew which questions they were asking, so we can configure that report to fit that survey. But now, since we have one report that we’re leveraging across all our clients, we’re able to use, we’re able to standardize, which is great–it saves us time as a team and as a business–but we’re still able to provide a level of customization by using the intelligence of the web app. So you’re looking at a page here that fits this survey: This survey asks an eNPS question, it asks the retention question, and it had indicators that we want to report on.

If you asked the survey that didn’t have any of these questions or it didn’t have any of this data that you wanted to visualize, we would show you a different page because we know what’s in your survey. We know what client you are and we know what you want to see. And so, by moving to an embedded offering, we’re able to move to that standardization of longer course, like keep the level of customization that we had delivered to our clients in the past, and that we wanted to keep delivering to our clients in the future.

So it’s been a really strong move that’s both kept our clients happy, kept our unique value proposition of all the customization that we try to provide, but allowed us to standardize and get a ton of time back.

Garo Yerizarian: That’s really great. I mean, it’s been interesting to see the, what the actual result looks like because I know we, we see some of the marketing materials, Power BI embedded and this and that, but actually seeing how it was done in a way that is really a fully integrated experience–it’s refreshing to see that it’s that smooth.

And moving to embedded, it didn’t seem like it’s an easy thing. Right? It seems like it was a lot of work to get to that point. But you’re going to get the results that you want out of it. It brings a lot of value to your clients, and this is pretty typical of what we’ve seen a lot of Microsoft products that have a big API surface and have a lot of customization and really help you to adapt the tool to your business rather than the other way around. And what we’ve seen is a Power BI lets you start simple and lets you go deep as you want to go, right? You want to go fully integrated, you can. If you just need to get started, you can as well. And that flexibility. Is one of the core reasons why we want to share this with our clients, and we want to consult our clients to move in this direction to help them achieve the similar results and to get the same benefits out of it that we do , and ultimately [achieve] whatever they need to do to move forward in their businesses.

Thank you very much, Evan. That was really great to see. I like the demo stuff. I didn’t see any pie charts in there, but you know, it can’t be all winners

There’s always next segment, where we’re going to talk a little bit more about the DevOps process and how we integrate this into your overall flow of development, and we might see a pie chart in there somewhere!

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