Microsoft Virtual Academy: Business Intelligence

Every month, many thousands of new businesses pop up across the United States. But that number does not compare with the amount of businesses which are shut down every month. People are starting their own businesses, but they find that they cannot hack it. Why is that?

New Businesses Are Constantly Opening

New Businesses Are Constantly Opening

The business world is a harsh environment, whether it is a small business or a mega-business. You need skill and knowhow to keep a business afloat. In this tough and unforgiving market, you have to stay one step ahead of your competition, and constantly have your finger on the pulse.

So, how is this achieved? How does a business survive in a time and place where so many are not making it? More than that, how can a business not only survive, but actually grow? Expand? Take a leap, and make the most of itself? It comes down to business intelligence (BI).

BI is the general term for the available set of skills and tools, and their proper use. It is true that some are born with a natural sense of foundations of business strategy. Some people are good with money and strategy, and have the gift of business-foresight. Some people are lucky, and simply happen to be at the right place at the right time, with the right idea. However, most of us are not business geniuses. So, how can we still find ways to compete? Thankfully, business skills are ones which can be acquired. Taking advantage of the tools we have makes things a whole lot easier.

Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) has over 40 courses on BI. Courses on business skills have been available since 2012, and more courses are being added. These course range from introductory courses to various pieces of software, through courses on finance and trading, to courses on successful advertising and smart analysis via cloud services.

The top courses in the Microsoft Virtual Academy BI section are: Introduction to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013, Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel, Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Jump Start, Microsoft SQL Server 2012 training: Reporting Services.

Course Review: Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel

One of the most popular courses is Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel, instructed by Dany Hoter. This course is categorized as a Level 200 course, which means that it is meant for those with at least six months of experience. When it comes to Excel, there is a lot to learn. This course is about taking the student’s Excel skills, and cranking them up a notch. Excel is one of the most useful tools a business can hope to have, and harnessing its power can be a game-changer for any business.

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel

The topics covered in this course are:

  • Data Analysis in Excel
  • The Excel Data Model and Basic DAX
  • Creating an Excel Data Model Using Queries
  • Creating an Excel Data Model from Multiple Tables
  • Advanced DAX
  • Advanced Text Query
  • Data Visualizations Using Excel
  • Publishing Excel Data Model and Report to Power BI
  • Excel on the Mobile Platform

As a Level 200 course, an understanding of Excel analytic tools, such as tables, pivot tables, and pivot charts, is necessary. Experience in working with data from databases and from text files is also a prerequisite for successfully completing this course. This course is worth 206 points, and even though it is relatively short – approximately three hours long – it manages to pack in a lot of useful information. This course has 10 modules and nine assessment exams, and it includes links to external resources which can be of great help. This course is rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Hoter is a Senior Project Manager in the Excel team at Microsoft. He has been involved with BI, Excel, and BI in Excel since 1998. He loves to help people to solve business problems using Excel and Power BI.

Course Review: Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Machine Learning

Another very popular course in the BI section is Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, instructed by Buck Woody, Seayoung Rhee, and Scott Klein. This course is about proper business analysis, using Microsoft Azure Machine Learning.

Some data professionals are content with simply reporting their numbers. However, for those who are interested in going the extra mile (and beyond), Azure Machine Learning is here to facilitate that desire, and give data professionals those wings that are needed to sore even higher.

This course is packed with demonstrations on how to better embed predictive analytics, and provides insight into Big Data solutions for businesses. Used correctly, data mining can analyze trends, patterns, and client/customer wants and needs, providing the data pro with the best predictive analysis around.

Instructors Buck Woody and Seayoung Rhee

Instructors Buck Woody and Seayoung Rhee

The topics covered in this course are:

  • Introduction to Machine Learning & Azure ML Studio
  • Designing a Predictive Analytics Solution with Azure ML
  • Monetizing Your ML Application with Azure Marketplace
  • Azure ML API Services and Extensibility Scenarios
  • Recommended Resources & Next Steps

This course is worth 39 points, and it is recommended that the student sets up the Azure Machine Learning before beginning the course. There is a trial version available. This Level 100 introductory course runs approximately four hours long, and it includes five modules and four assessment examinations. The course is rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Woody is Senior Technical Specialist for Microsoft. He is an instructor on the Data Science Board of the University of Washington, with over 30 years of data and teaching experience. He has authored over 500 articles and five books on database, and is a frequent speaker at conferences around the world.

Rhee is a Senior Technical Product Manager with Microsoft’s Machine Learning and Advanced Analytics team. A relatively newly minted data scientist (according to his fellow presenters), he has been with Microsoft for nearly 10 years.

Klein is a Senior Technical Evangelist with Microsoft. He is the host of Data Exposed on Channel9, and is a frequent speaker at various conferences around the world. Klein has authored several books that talk about SQL Server and Windows Azure SQL Database. Fun Fact: He recently learned that data scientists are ‘sexy', so he may have to add that skill to his tool belt.

How does a business survive? It hires the right people to run it. Data professionals are an important cog in the wheels of any business. Today’s clients and customers are informed and savvy. They are in the market for businesses who are able to understand them and go with them.

Watch your business grow and thrive!

Watch your business grow and thrive!

When a business gets to know who his customers or clients are through data analytics, it acquires more business, and manages to retain and monetize on opportunities which arise. Nobody can tell what the future holds, but using data analysis properly can provide businesses with tools for expansion. Improve performance, reduce costs, maintain healthy business relationships, and become business intelligent by learning from Microsoft’s experts.

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