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Turning Data into Value with Azure Synapse Analytics and Power BI

Businesses are under pressure more than ever to cut costs, generate increased revenue and improve customer satisfaction. Business initiatives, and their performance and success, will measure business leaders during the time of the pandemic and there is pressure on leaders to invest their organisation’s efforts towards initiatives that demonstrate success while tackling these issues.

The COVID epidemic has encouraged leaders to take the opportunity to show flagship successes by spearheading data projects to produce value for the organisation. Value can mean different things to different organisations, such as sales turnover, customer satisfaction or reduced costs. Azure Synapse Analytics can help with deriving business value in a profusion of ways.

Business leaders creating initiative

How Azure Synapse Analytics can help your Business

Businesses experience common obstacles in their journey towards deriving value from their data. Azure Synapse Analytics is a cloud-based, end-to-end solution to help organisations, wherever they are in their data journey. How can Azure Synapse Analytics help solve issues and help business leaders to trailblaze with their data, during these challenging times.

Organisations are discovering that the cloud offers opportunities to do so much more with their data. Businesses no longer hold the perception that the cloud is simply a type of USB stick for storing data, and they are discovering that the cloud offers scalable, robust solutions for maximising value from data.

Shadow IT and Shadow Data

Shadow IT, and Shadow Data exist in many organisations, and it is a popular way of solving a need for business insights – often to the chagrin of IT departments. However, Shadow IT and Shadow Data are not a sustainable business strategy for handling data. While technical teams often focus on big data, business teams frequently use Little Data in the form of Excel worksheets, Access databases or Google Sheets. There are many examples of shadow data in the daily life of a business, for example, resolving a customer problem quickly or sharing data rapidly via email to a colleague. Therefore, from the business perspective, Little Data can be as essential as Big Data because it helps quickly move the organisation forward through a bottleneck.

Azure Synapse Analytics resolves the Shadow IT and Shadow Data issues by derisking data storage, securing data accessibility and eliminating human error in producing data. Siloed data sources result in siloed analytics, which can introduce security issues from data fragmentation across departments, offices and even countries. Azure Synapse Analytics offers a one-stop-shop for storing data and allowing it to be accessible, thereby facilitating collaboration across business departments as well as IT teams. It is possible to eliminate shadow data by creating meaningful, business-relevant metrics which business users can access using Power BI via a browser, Microsoft Teams or through the desktop edition.

Ballard Chalmers supported the Lighthouse Group with a modern, cloud data platform, liberating the business teams from a heritage system to a solution that freed up the technology and finance teams to focus proactively on higher-value activities rather than reactive, time-consuming tasks. As a result, the Lighthouse Group had faster reporting and business-wide analytics, facilitating collaboration, and enhancing service to its customers.

Charging your business synapses with your data

Business synapses
Business users want data that is easy to understand and quick to digest. Data forms part of business processes as well as being a product of those processes. Data logjams are avoidable, and Azure Synapse Analytics circumvents the deadlocks by providing data that is updated on schedules, or even produced in real-time, to support the business.

Using Azure Synapse Analytics helps to streamline the Big Data from being machine-sized data to human-scale data so it is easy for business teams to understand. Azure Synapse Analytics offers consistency between metrics along with automating the production of metrics, increasing productivity by reducing friction in finding the required data. Since Azure Synapse Analytics aligns data sources into one place, it adds value by reducing the duplication of data sources within the organisation. In turn, the increased data consistency reduces error and wasted time in searching for the ‘right’ version of the data.

Using different technologies can sometimes result in various metrics and numbers, which is frustrating for business teams and IT alike. Azure Synapse Analytics supports business teams by offering a strong foundation for your data visualisation technologies. Azure Synapse Analytics works with partners such as Tableau or Qlik, so there is no need to redo existing data visualisations or successful dashboards. Instead, you can build a modern data platform using tools you already have, using Azure Synapse Analytics as a foundation for aligning these technologies better.

Are you dropping £50 notes as you go?

Automation supports smart business processes, warding the business from dropping money as it accelerates to meet customer needs. Ballard Chalmers has been helping organisations to automate their processes by using analytics technology and Power BI. For example, Square Marble Technology worked with Ballard Chalmers to provide an enterprise financial operations system, supporting global clients to streamline data into smart business processes through automation. In this way, Ballard Chalmers are helping their clients to move forward judiciously using cloud technology and data in a smart, data-driven way.

Often, missed opportunities come from slow or missed sales. It can be difficult to find the right salespeople, those who are a good fit for your organisation. For every right salesperson that the organisation does not hire, the business is losing money in lost opportunities or slow sales follow-up.

In these scenarios, data can help your organisation to become very targeted in tracking sales, as well as finding new trends in your data. In statistics, outliers often denote the start of a new trend. If your organisation is not looking closely at the data, then it is easy to miss the outliers and take advantage of the potential opportunity that they bring.

Right Now Data for Right Now customers.

Customers getting reports from Azure Synapse Analytics

Customers expect a meaningful relationship with their suppliers. Customers want more than a product, and data can help organisations to understand what is meaningful to them. In turn, this leads to innovation for customer-centred organisations who are determined to be their customers’ best ‘go-to’ solution.

Data is at its most interesting and useful when it is placed into context with other pieces of data. Organisations often struggle to put different sources of data together. Azure Synapse Analytics can help organisations to hear the customer voice in data, discerning what is meaningful to customers. Azure Synapse Analytics offers an end-to-end journey for the data from data ingestion, data integration right through to advanced analytics using Apache Spark – all in the cloud.

Azure Synapse Analytics offer a range of integrated tools that will please data analysts, data engineers and data scientists alike, such as Python, Scala and SQL. It also includes the ability to consider streaming data as well as batched, slower data. Azure Synapse Analytics enables organisations to derive value from their data, regardless of their data science maturity. Whether they are business-oriented data analysts or deeply technical data scientists, Azure Synapse Analytics can offer a way for team members to contribute and collaborate.

As businesses move forward in their data journey, teams often become increasingly polyglot, and Azure Synapse Analytics offers opportunities to gain value from data for people with differing skill sets. For the business teams, these insights translate into the ability to go to market more quickly with more relevant offerings or streamline efficiencies into production.

In Summary

Azure Synapse Analytics can help you to be successful, in whatever way you value. Do you need to increase revenue or reduce costs? Or perhaps understand your customers better?

Data is most important when it has meaning and a purpose. It can help you to conjecture the future as well as solve current problems, and it is an asset that your organisation already owns. Azure Synapse Analytics allows organisations to look at data through many lenses. To find out more about we can help, get in touch or take a look at our work with the Azure Modern Data Warehouse.

Post Terms: Azure Synapse Analytics | Power BI | Shadow IT

About the Author

Jennifer Stirrup

Jen Stirrup, writing here as a freelance blogger, is an award-winning data strategist and practitioner in Artificial Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Big Data and Data Visualisation solutions with over twenty years of experience in delivering solutions globally.

Education, Membership & Awards

Jen is a recognized leading authority in AI and Business Intelligence Leadership, a Fortune 100 global speaker, and has been named as one of the Top 50 Global Data Visionaries, one of the Top Data Scientists to follow on Twitter and one of the most influential Top 50 Women in Technology worldwide.

Jenn holds postgraduate degrees in AI and Cognitive Science from the Universities of Birmingham and Aberdeen.

You can find Jennifer online at:

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