Transforming Reports To Visuals Through Power BI

Reports have been the primary way of representing information. However, understanding the reports and making sense out of them can prove to be a daunting task. An organization is always producing tons of data all the time. These data are then turned into reports. These reports are primarily text based, consisting of few visuals at times. But, one basic shortcoming of reports is that they fail to identify patterns, outliers and trends, unless it is explicitly done.

On the other hand, data visualization, when done correctly, is an effective way to analyze large amounts of data to identify correlations, trends, outliers, patterns, and business conditions.

In this blog, we will take a look into few examples, of how reports can be turned into interesting visuals. I’ve used Microsoft Power BI as the tool to do it.

To learn more about Microsoft Power BI, click here.

Example 1

Take this snapshot of a report. It lists down the total sales and sales per customer in a company. This is a standard tabular format used for depicting sales reports.

However, converting this report into a pie chart would make it more understandable and appealing to the eye. Also, with visualization tools like Microsoft Power BI, much more information can be layered on to the existing data. In this example, the proportion of the total sales for each customer can be recognized easily along with displaying the sales percentage per customer.

Example 2

Moving on to a slightly complex tabular report (Not a table as per the definition in data science), we have a report on sales of different products along with the contribution of each customer for the particular product. As the number of products increase, the report will grow longer and longer.

One way to transform this report into more user friendly visuals is as follows:

If you compare it with the report, you will notice that the report is incomplete as compared to the visual. This is because, I cropped the report such that, the portion you see is the portion I was able to see on my screen. Going through the report was particularly frustrating for me as I have to keep scrolling up and down. I could not get a clear picture of what was going on.

But when I now look at this visual, I can see every detail at a glance. I know that Product 28 brings in the most money why product 29 brings in the least. Also, I am able to see the amount and the number of customers each product had at a glance.

With these two examples, I now believe that, I have provided enough evidence, for the need of transforming reports into visuals. But, would like to show a final example of how a sales report can be turned into a dashboard with visuals that are both attractive and informative.

This is a sample sales report available on excel. All you see is numbers and text everywhere. One must have domain expertise to understand what is going on here. Otherwise, a descriptive text should accompany the report in order to fully comprehend what is happening here.

Here is a sample Dashboard that I created using Microsoft Power BI. Here, I have only scratched the surface of the report. Much more can be done with the information that is provided in the report. Additionally, users can interact with the dashboard created on Power BI.

To interact with the dashboard shown in the example, click here.