When comparing ServiceNow Reporting vs. Power BI, organizations should consider their requirements.

In this post, we compare ServiceNow Reporting vs. Power BI, and discuss why ServiceNow users with extensive reporting and analytics requirements require the latter.

To improve their reporting and analytics capabilities, organizations can use purpose-built alternatives to ServiceNow Reporting such as Power BI.

While both ServiceNow Reporting and Power BI can generate informative insights, organizations dealing with large data volumes and requiring advanced ServiceNow reporting features may find the former’s capabilities limiting. 

Organizations use reporting, analysis, and business intelligence (BI) tools to generate insights that help make informed decisions, identify new opportunities, and find potential areas for improvement. 

For example, to generate comprehensive insights relevant to the whole organization, organizations must combine ServiceNow data with other sources. Since ServiceNow Reporting can only generate insight from data inside the ServiceNow platform, an integration with purpose built reporting, analysis and BI solutions is required

Via integrations with ServiceNow, business leaders can extract the relevant data from ServiceNow and combine it with data from other sources.

Power BI – and other solutions that would benefit from the data – can use these combined data sources to generate insights that offer better business visibility and reflect benefits to the whole organization.

What is ServiceNow Reporting (OOTB)?

ServiceNow users can leverage its out-of-the-box (OOTB) reporting capabilities to create custom reports independently using the built-in reporting tool – Report Designer. 

Report Designer is ServiceNow’s user interface for generating and editing reports. Only users with admin roles can edit and save reports, limiting the potential for self-service reporting

ServiceNow OTTB reporting allows users to create and visualize simple reports for BI purposes.

As an OOTB capability, ServiceNow Reporting provides fast time-to-value and ease-of-use – owing to the fact it is embedded within the familiar ServiceNow user interface.

However, the benefits are undermined by a number of limitations – particularly for enterprise-scale organizations:

Complex reporting – creating complex reports with the Report Designer requires substantial knowledge of Jelly and JavaScript. This can make self-service reporting difficult to achieve. There are also limitations to the complexity the Report Designer can handle. For example, if the report requires data/input from other sources, integrations with advanced reporting/BI solutions is required.

Data quality – data used for reports in the Report Designer is stored in tables that require some degree of manual input – impacting data quality. 

Performance degradation –  too many data extensive reports sitting on homepage dashboards contribute to performance degradation. Query speeds on the platform are slowed affecting users that need to use and/or extract data from the platform.

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is a business intelligence and data analytics platform developed by Microsoft. With Power BI, organizations can combine various data sources, transform and clean the data, and generate interactive data visualizations and complex reports.

As a purpose-built solution for BI and analytics, Power BI provides a number of useful features including a business user-friendly desktop application for creating reports and visualizations, cloud-based report sharing and collaboration, and mobile apps for accessing and viewing reports on the go.

The insight gained from Power BI helps organizations make better informed decisions.

Using Power BI to Analyze ServiceNow Data

Organizations with complex reporting needs often choose Power BI for ServiceNow reporting because:

  • It can handle complex reports – ServiceNow-Power BI integration facilitates complex and sophisticated reports where users can include external data sources and compile the dataset for enhanced data visualization.
  • It can analyze specific performance areas – Power BI can effectively analyze specific areas of ServiceNow data, enabling users to create custom reports and visualizations. For instance, teams can highlight and demonstrate fluctuations in ServiceNow time-to-resolution reports using Power BI’s Analyze feature.
  • It supports a wide range of report types – Power BI supports a wide range of report types including bar, column, doughnut, funnel, and other advanced charts.
  • It supports incremental refresh – Power BI’s incremental refresh feature provides accurate real-time updates, allowing users to retrieve newly updated data.

How Power BI Benefits ServiceNow Users

By using Power BI to analyze ServiceNow data, organizations experience the following benefits:

  • Improved Data Visibility – Power BI helps organizations visualize key metrics and trends in ServiceNow, in real-time, helping generate deeper insights into operational data. This benefits both decision-making and an organization’s ability to quickly identify issues and areas for improvement.
  • Enhanced Reporting Capabilities – With Power BI, organizations can generate customized reports and dashboards tailored to their specific needs. 
  • Increased Collaboration – By extracting ServiceNow data and replicating it to Power BI, organizations can introduce collaborative approaches to creating and analyzing reports in a secure environment. This helps enable self-service reporting and greater data democratization. 
  • Better Decision-Making – Combining ServiceNow data with other data sources in Power BI provides organizations with a more comprehensive understanding of their enterprise. In turn, this enables better decision-making and drives business growth.

ServiceNow Reporting vs. Power BI: Which to Choose?

When comparing ServiceNow Reporting vs. Power BI, organizations need to consider their requirements.

While ServiceNow OOTB reporting will suffice for an organization with general reporting needs, those with complex reporting needs must invest in advanced tools like Power BI. 

Organizations can use ServiceNow OOTB Reporting

  • If they wish to work only within the ServiceNow ecosystem, and with ServiceNow data.
  • If they are confident regular manual intervention will not undermine data quality. 
  • If ServiceNow Report Builder fulfills their custom reporting needs.
  • If they have developers with sufficient expertise in Jelly and JavaScript when more complex reports are required.

Organizations can use Power BI for ServiceNow reporting:

  • If they want to analyze and run reports on specific areas involving complex KPIs and metrics.
  • If they require advanced and custom reports and visualization based on multiple data sources.
  • If they wish to work with a wide range of report types. 
  • If they wish to democratize ServiceNow data access and introduce self-service reporting.
  • They want to benefit from incrementally refreshed dashboards and real-time data/insight.

How to Connect ServiceNow and Power BI

After comparing ServiceNow Reporting vs. Power BI and deciding the latter is better for your organization, the next step is to decide how to connect ServiceNow data to Power BI.

Connecting ServiceNow and Power BI requires an integration between the platforms.

While there are a number of integration providers, they typically fall under three different integration methods:

  • ETL integrations
  • API/Web-services based integrations
  • Modern integration technology (ServiceNow-native, Push Technology integrations from Perspectium)

Choosing the Right Integration Approach

Data volume, availability and security are just some of the things to consider when choosing an integration approach. The “right” approach will depend on your particular needs …

Extract ServiceNow data with the right integration approach.

Choosing the Right Integration Approach

Data volume, availability and security are just some of the things to consider when choosing an integration approach. The “right” approach will depend on your particular needs …

ETL Integrations

ETL Integrations are a legacy approach to connecting software. While they can handle large data volumes, they are increasingly out-of-favor due to some key limitations.

They work well in situations where application business rules or security requirements don’t matter.

They are good for staying within (behind) a firewall, when data is not time sensitive.

Complex implementation leads to a slower time-to-value than the other available options.

API/Web-services-based Integrations

API/Web-services-based integrations are a common approach to facilitating ServiceNow-to-Power BI integrations.

The technology is versatile and can be used to connect ServiceNow to a range of different end-points.

ServiceNow provides its own web-services based integrations via the ServiceNow-native Integration Hub. 

The ServiceNow store also hosts a number of third-party, API/web-services-based integrations.

When bought as packaged integration solutions, the time-to-value of this approach can be relatively quick.

However, custom-built API/web-services-based integrations regularly exceed budgets in both time and funds allocated

While their versatility is an upside to some organizations, API/web-services-based integration’s impact to ServiceNow’s performance is significant when data volumes are high. This makes them an unsuitable option for organizations that can’t afford delayed queries/reports and poor data availability.  

They also require significant and regular maintenance that can impact developers capacity to work on other projects. And while they are versatile, they require extensive customization to meet an organization’s specific requirements. 

As well as impacting existing developers, such extensive customization limits the organizations scope for hiring new developers, as new developers need to match the skill set of existing/former devs to maintain the integration. 

Modern Integration Technology

Modern integration technology can connect ServiceNow to Power BI without the drawbacks of traditional approaches. 

Perspectium is one such, ServiceNow-native example of modern integration technology. 

Rather than relying on performance degrading API calls and web-services, Perspectium uses its ServiceNow-native implementation to its advantage, using efficient “Push Technology” to extract data from ServiceNow and replicate it to an external data repository. 

This means solutions such as Power BI extract data from the repository, leaving ServiceNow’s performance intact.

ServiceNow Reporting vs. Power BI - Connect ServiceNow to Power BI, Tableau and more

Perspectium integrations are delivered and maintained as a managed service, meaning implementation is handled by experienced ServiceNow integration experts that can implement complex integrations efficiently and quickly.

ServiceNow-to-Power BI Integrations from Perspectium

Perspectium is a robust, ServiceNow-native integration service and solution for ServiceNow. 

Designed exclusively for the Now Platform, Perspectium’s DataSync solution can securely and reliably extract ServiceNow data into pre-configured BI views natively without hindering or disturbing ServiceNow’s performance. 

DataSync helps address an organization’s BI and reporting needs efficiently and effortlessly. It can move massive amounts of data in bulk, to external repositories with high throughput and minimal performance impact. 

BI teams can acquire in-depth, comprehensive insights into ServiceNow and enhance their visibility of ITSM, CSM, HR, ITOM, and ITAM processes.

DataSync can synchronize ServiceNow data with external systems/apps for business process automation, performance analytics, reporting, and other business use cases. It promotes cross-functional collaboration by allowing teams to share business intelligence reports for improved data management and manipulation.

Despite offering their own integration technology, ServiceNow themselves uses Perspectium to support its business intelligence team. ServiceNow required Perspectium’s massive throughput and performance friendly integrations to replicate data from 10 production instances of ServiceNow into 4 SAP/HANA databases for analysis by Sales, Marketing, Finance, and other departments.

The ServiceNow BI team can provide quick results to the business, able to turn around analytics requests in a few days thanks to the Perspectium ease of use and configuration.

New integrations into additional business applications are being developed to extend the CRM solution capabilities, and better support ServiceNow’s customer growth.

In the words of Venugopal Malyala – ServiceNow Senior Director of BI, MDM & Analytics:

“Everyone loves the product. It’s very easy to manage and we are able to provide quick results to the business – that is key”.

Interested in connecting ServiceNow to Power BI using Perspectium, get a free demo.

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