Financial Services / Modern BI

Regional Bank Begins Digital Transformation Journey with Power BI



A publicly traded financial services company originally relied on an on-premises reporting platform that was starting to show its age. Leadership sought to lay the foundation for a transformative analytics solution that could empower users. After researching options and performing an internal pilot, the company selected Microsoft Power BI for its next generation cloud analytics platform.

Power BI Premium provided the critical combination of dedicated resources, larger model size, reporting options, external embedding, security, and more. As the organization sought to formally deploy a new analytics ecosystem, it engaged the help of BlueGranite for advisory services and initial development.

The Challenge

The majority of the company’s original reports were available as exports and email subscriptions to the appropriate line of business users, who often performed additional analysis and manual transformation in tools like Excel. The bank wanted to leverage Power BI to explore a new, modern style of interactive reporting, as well as provide a conversion path for existing reports.

Delivery included datasets and reports for both internal employees and external partners and customers. Due to the often-sensitive nature of the data, security was of great concern throughout the reporting lifecycle. The business also needed to provide secure embedded reports for their external stakeholders.

Moving to a cloud analytics platform also presented an opportunity for more than technical growth. As the organization adapted to a new architecture and to infrastructure that was not managed on-premises (except gateways), many of the processes currently in place required some additional revision, a change of mindset, and proper education.

The Solution

BlueGranite worked with IT, analytics, security, and database administration teams to provide advisory services and deployment planning as the organization began its journey with Microsoft Power BI. Early activities included a vision workshop as well as discussion and deliverables around Power BI deployment, security, governance, architecture, and more.

BlueGranite also crafted a customized launch phase centered around several QuickStart projects. These QuickStarts were designed to expose the bank to critical capabilities around dataset development, report creation, and Power BI embedded scenarios.

  • Datasets
    • Created a tabular model centered around deposit accounts
    • Showcased enterprise modeling features such as aggregations, incremental refresh
  • Reports
    • Built an initial set of Power BI reports for a line of business
    • Designed Power BI PBIX reports as well as paginated reports
  • Embedding
    • Explored Power BI embedded APIs and created a sample landing page demonstrating a small-scale, end-to-end embedded solution
    • Embedded both Power BI PBIX report and paginated report
    • Tested reports that relied on row level security in a Power BI dataset

After the launch phase involving QuickStarts and advisory, BlueGranite had the opportunity to extend these workstreams into further dataset and report development. Dataset development involved supporting shared datasets as needed for reporting, as well as initial self-service and ad hoc analysis. Report development included PBIX reports, paginated reports, and PBIX “landing pages” that linked to paginated reports. More advanced reporting included Power BI features such as bookmarks and actions to facilitate a more app-like experience for consumers.

The Results

There is no single “quick win” when it comes to digital transformation. Rather, a progressively more impactful combination of small wins leading to long term success. Creating a robust data culture involves setting expectations with users, continual training and growth, and working with key IT and business stakeholders over time to iteratively build upon and extend early success.

BlueGranite participated in regular user demos and Q&A sessions, as well as more formal Power BI data model and report development training. Many opportunities existed for business users to showcase their own Power BI development efforts. Over time, this helped many users gain additional confidence in the tool and in their abilities in the start of what could shift to become a more formal Center of Excellence.

Since the majority of original reports were data tables provided as exports, the organization decided that many of the new Power BI reports would be paginated. Many opportunities to explore more interactive reporting were also available depending on user appetite and requirements. In some cases, both styles of reports were used to provide the best initial reporting experience, linked together with report URLs to provide a hybrid experience. Now that the Power BI paginated visual exists as of June 2021, the bank could possibly explore additional avenues to embed paginated reports directly in Power BI reports.

While Power BI paginated reports solved many immediate needs to convert existing reports, they also represent a good opportunity for the organization to go deeper in the long term and build more of what the line of business analysts ultimately create with their exports. Users might start their Power BI journey with a close approximation of what they had before, but with a growth path that involves them rebuilding much of their final self-service analytics in Power BI directly.

Interested in learning more about how BlueGranite can help accelerate your modern analytics solution? Contact us today.


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