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How Power BI Users Benefit from the Arria Integration: A Conversation with Kapila Ponnamperuma

By Maribel Ayala | October 28, 2021
Blog Image - 21 How Power BI Users Benefit from the Arria Integration A Conversation with Kapila Ponnamperuma

Today, we speak to Kapila Ponnamperuma, Head of Technology & Integrations at Arria, about what Power BI users get from Arria for Power BI.  

Maribel: What is the value that Power BI users get from our integration?  

Kapila: The value is in terms of explaining complex data patterns and insights in natural language (plain language). By using our capabilities, it takes less effort for the user to interpret the visuals. By simply reading the narrative, you can understand what is happening with your key metrics and KPIs in relation to your lines of business, products, regions, etc. 

NLG complements dashboard visuals, interpreting the data for the user and providing information in simple, easy-to-understand language. Some narratives can be very targeted, with very specific recommendations, allowing users to make intelligent business decisions more rapidly.  

Maribel: What are the key features of Arria for Power BI?  

Kapila: The most important capability of our Power BI narratives is their ability to interpret information that is difficult to visualize (e.g., sales variance). You can visualize the variance (difference of the value), but how can you visualize the contributing and offsetting factors to that change drilling down into different dimensions? NLG tech explains this; visualizing drivers and offsets with graphs and charts is sometimes very difficult. It is very easy and quick to understand explanations in natural language. 

Maribel: What differentiates Arria from the competition?  

Kapila: Our Power BI plug-in allows people to analyze data in lots of different ways. The approach we have taken at Arria for most of our narratives is explaining trends, variance, and statistical analysis. Whatever we do, we go into detail (drill downs). Business executives need this analysis in different dimensions (for example weekly, quarterly, etc.) and sales may need to analyze from another perspective (e.g., product, country, location).  

Arria Answers makes it easier to analyze your data. You can get insights simply by querying the data using natural-language queries. However, the most important competitive factor is enterprise readiness (we allow deployment via the public cloud, private cloud, private hosting) and there is a custom option.  

Maribel: Tell us why you love dashboards. 

Kapila: I do love dashboards and I’ve used them for 20 years! As a fresh graduate in Sri Lanka (where I am originally from) I first started creating dashboards and data cubes, and I understood the slicing and the dicing dashboards allowed. I have seen many changes over the last 2 decades. There have been lots of improvements, in terms of how data is ingested, processed, etc., but the interface that executives use hasn’t changed a lot. 

Now with NLG insights and queries (augmented analytics), we are bringing a completely different aspect to dashboards. 

Dashboards are here to stay, but we can certainly improve the experience.  If you love your dashboard, you are going to love it more with natural-language insights. 

Maribel: How do you decide which features to launch next? 

Kapila: We are looking into two aspects – user experience and new capabilities. We want to make sure that our products are intuitive and easy to use. So, expect some usability improvements. Also, we want to introduce new capabilities to our Apps and Answers so users can interactively tell more insightful data stories.