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CEOs want a business case

What CEOs want? A case for Power BI

June 28, 2017

I’m not a Fortune 500 CEO, but I’ve had the fortune of directly reporting to CEOs & Business Leaders in different cultures and in organizations of varied size & complexity. Over the years, I’ve recognized commonalities in reporting requirements by the C-Suite. Hence, the title, which is inspired from Mel Gibson’s 2001 movie “What women want”. For those of you who haven’t seen it (spoiler alert), it’s a movie where Mel’s character gets the ability to read women’s minds. A supernatural power for a man indeed!

At times, despite the best efforts of team members involved, the CEO’s reporting requirements seem elusive. That leads to heaps of revisions and re-work. It adds stress to the work environment and leads to inefficiencies. Given below is a list of characteristics that I feel will help towards getting the reporting right with least revisions. I say ‘least’ as zero revision is almost impossible. Most CEOs are perfectionists after all.

Power BI Reporting Characteristics:

Compact but Zoomable

A CEO once announced that he needs all reports to be single paged. He said use font size 7 if you must, print double sided or A3. If you can’t capture the essence of it on a page, you don’t understand the issue well enough! It seemed like an unreasonable request at the time. But having seen first-hand how much information overload CEOs experience daily, I can sort of grasp the thought process behind the request. That was over a decade ago, so making a report compact came at the expense of curtailing information. Luckily, we now have tools that allow us to have compact reports which are zoomable so that the reader can dive in if they need further information. Excel provides some cool compact reporting options such as Pivot Tables, Pivot Charts, Data Bars, Sparklines etc. However, Power BI comes out on top in this measure. If your CEO hasn’t seen it yet, I suggest you explore it and arrange a short demo as a pleasant surprise for the CEO.

System & Device independent

Sheets vs. Excel, PC vs. Mac, Android vs. iOS etc. Digital history is filled with rivalries. I won’t touch these explosive topics in this blog but both sides in each case have a host of valid reasons to hold on to what they feel is the better option. CEOs are divided on many of these choices just like the rest of us. The pragmatic approach is to become system & device independent in reporting. Browser based applications like Office 365 have come a long way and they offer this flexibility. Power BI service is browser based and it is fine tuned for reporting requirements. It also features mobile screen layout for optimizing your reporting elements.

Easy to Share & Collaborate

The days of the paper based reports and reviews are almost gone. CEOs prefer reports which are ubiquitous. Online platforms like Power BI offer a lot of potential in this regard. In addition to online access, CEOs also like to have the ability to share information and collaborate easily. This is very helpful especially when they’re on the go. Power BI comes in strong on both fronts.

Real time or fresh

In the age of rapid change, old data is almost like useless data. Having real-time or fresh information is of great value. Power BI offers many options in terms of data connectivity. We can even salvage information from existing Excel files. That makes it a great tool for consolidating information form varied sources on an almost real-time basis.

I hope the above reporting requirements help you make a reporting platform better suited to the information needs of your CEO. Power BI can be a big part of the solution. If you haven’t seen it yet, I strongly suggest you give it an exploratory go with the free version. All you need to sign up for Power BI is a work eMail (non Hotmail/Gmail/Yahoo etc.).

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