How risky is that business loan? Should your company add another branch in a new location? When will your stakeholders make a return on their investments in your company? Predictive data analysis answers questions like these, using historical data to make reliable forecasts.
To make the most accurate predictions, you’ll need a powerful statistical data analysis tool. Power BI for predictive analytics lets you assess trends and forecasts visually for a glimpse into your company’s future.
Can You Use Power BI for Predictive Analytics?
Predictive analytics is the process of analyzing big data, identifying patterns, and producing models that forecast future outcomes. There are many ways to perform predictive analytics. You could hire a statistical data scientist to manually create predictive models, or download predictive analytics software that uses machine learning algorithms to automatically process your data.
But can you use visualization software like Power BI for predictive analytics as well? The answer is slightly complicated.
Power BI is a visualization platform for displaying your data in graphic form. It’s mainly used to generate visually-compelling reports and to look at your data from multiple perspectives. Its predictive modeling capabilities are pretty limited, particularly if you’re only using a standard Power BI Pro or Premium license and no other tools. Power BI cannot perform any predictive analysis on its own. It can only display the data it’s given.
However, Power BI can be adapted to perform advanced predictive analytics. You just have to connect it with a more robust analytics tool first. Once you have a comprehensive predictive analytics system up and running, you’ll be able to make very accurate models from your data and present them in stunning visual form.
How to Use Power BI for Predictive Analytics
If you want to use Power BI for predictive analytics, you must link your Power BI account to another predictive data analytics tool. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use Power BI and Microsoft’s Azure software in tandem.
Azure is a cloud computing system that stores and analyzes big data. The platform includes multiple tools, one of which is Azure Machine Learning Studio. This tool uses machine learning algorithms to identify patterns and make predictions about future trends. It also learns from your past data to make more reliable forecasts every time you use the system. To tie an Azure account to a Power BI account, you can:
- Connect Azure to your data source or store your data in the Azure system
- Drag your data sets or modules into Azure’s predictive model creator
- Give Power BI permission to access the models and send this data through Power BI
- Generate visuals of the models using one or more of the visuals available in the Power BI gallery.
You are essentially analyzing the data twice. During the first round, Azure runs the data through machine learning algorithms based on the type of predictions you want to make (e.g. budget forecasts or market projections). Once this process is complete, you’re left with a new set of data like any other you would upload to Power BI. The only difference is that this data is predictive rather than historical.
What makes this system so effective is that it combines the power of predictive modeling with user-friendly visual aids. Most laypeople struggle to read and understand complicated predictive models. They need charts or other graphics to help them make sense of the information. Power BI offers some of the most compelling, detailed, and polished visuals on the market. When you use Power BI, your predictions will not only be trustworthy, but they will also be easy to share with your entire organization.
Is Power BI and Azure the Best Predictive Analytics System?
Although a combination of Azure and Power BI for predictive analytics is a dependable system, it may not be the best option for every organization. The main problem with using Power BI for predictive analytics is that someone on your team will need to be familiar with the R programming language and the Azure platform.
First, you have to access your data from Azure SQL and then use R to extract this data. Next, you must send this data to the Azure ML web service so that it can score the data. From here, you’ll send the data back through Azure SQL and use R once again to send this data to Power BI’s system. Once you’ve reached this point, just publish the data to Power BI and refresh the data through the gateway. Now all that’s left to do is to generate visuals.
If you’re unfamiliar with R programming and Azure,this process is far from simple. It’s also quite time-consuming, even for those who know their way around R and Azure. You’ll have to repeat the entire process for every new prediction or model before you can start generating visuals and reports. This is why many organizations choose to hire third-party predictive analytics experts to build user-friendly systems customized to their workflows and needs.
The Benefits of a Custom Predictive Analytics System
A custom predictive analytics system can automatically perform all of the tasks that Azure normally would, generating accurate models based on your historical data. To make this system, data experts ask which types of models you’d like to create and run your data through machine learning algorithms designed for those specific tasks. All of the predictive modeling is done for you. There’s no need to learn R commands or practice using the Azure platform.
These firms can also handle visualizations. Experts will build you a user-friendly dashboard where you can quickly generate Power BI visuals or other detailed graphics and charts at the touch of a button. Because your predictive models are already connected to this dashboard, making new visuals is lightning-fast.
Predictive analytics models are only useful if you keep them current and use them in your reports consistently. If they’re too difficult or time-consuming to create, then your managerial team will be less likely to create them— or to consult them when they make their decisions. By outsourcing this process to the experts, you’ll build a system anyone can use, with the most innovative predictive technology.
Do you want to make the most accurate business decisions possible? If so, contact Tek Leaders today. Our team of skilled predictive data analytics and machine learning experts will help you design an efficient system for modeling your data and creating compelling visuals to support it. If you want to learn more about using Power BI for predictive analytics, you can reach us by email directly.
Devender (Dev) Aerrabolu
October 15, 2019