How to drive business insights using Power BI in NetSuite


5 min read

In this article, we look at the world’s #1 cloud-based finance system, NetSuite, and the most deployed Business Intelligence (BI) tool, Power BI, to understand the situations where businesses would benefit from integrating the solutions and the options for doing so.

A substantial 80% of Global Enterprise Leaders know that using data for decision-making helps them remain competitive. Despite this, only a quarter of top companies report that they are a data-driven organization.  

How can businesses gain valuable information from their data?

The key is Business Intelligence (“BI”) solutions. A BI solution can be central to staying forward-thinking, appropriately reactive, and (most importantly) profitable. BI capabilities can help a business consolidate multiple data sources, analyze data with advanced analytics and automate reports to improve visibility across the business.  

Let’s dive deeper to understand:

  • What is Business Intelligence?
  • What is Microsoft’s Power BI?
  • How does Microsoft Power BI connect to NetSuite?
  • Introducing Pre-Built Power BI solutions for NetSuite
  • Summary

Before we explore the power of connecting NetSuite with the world’s most deployed BI tool, let’s first cover what Business Intelligence is.  

What is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence (“BI”) transforms masses of business data into easily readable information.  

Whether you work in Finance, Operations or Management, with BI you can access answers to the ‘hard questions’ quickly based on real data. BI introduces a combination of reports and processes in an interface that makes it easier to identify any gaps in data. If implemented correctly, not only does it enable your senior team to access critical information, but it also empowers your entire organization to notice any trends or performance issues.  

BI tools often access historical data that brings awareness to trends and potential errors. This is particularly important for businesses that use multiple payment currencies, for example. A BI tool would give you the ability to assess the impacts of working with multiple currencies, react to any errors and address future implications.  

Ultimately, with BI driving strategic insights, you can work out the true cost of your services and products.

From our experience we know it can be a commitment to implement a BI solution in your organization.  

When determining which connector to use and to build or buy a BI solution, you should consider the following questions:

  • What data sources do you need to connect to?  
  • Who will be setting it up internally?
  • Should you choose a pre-built out-of-the-box solution or build your own?  

Research by Spendesk identified Microsoft’s Power BI tool as the CFO’s most trusted BI tool.

What is Microsoft Power BI?

Microsoft Power BI is the world's most deployed BI solution. Power BI extends Microsoft’s core offering driven by a familiar Excel-style interface. This means Power BI is simply added to your current Microsoft stack, making it more accessible for users while giving Microsoft more power off-the-shelf.  

The cloud-based data visualization platform can create dynamic reports and dashboards for any business question you need to answer. Power BI is designed to integrate with a range of connectors to access your data warehouse (including NetSuite) to drive insights by spotting trends which might have previously slipped through the cracks.  

To maximize value, Power BI integrations can require investment and expertise from data consultants to implement and set up reports to drive insights.

Microsoft Power BI Benefits

Data Integrations  

The tool has capabilities to integrate and report on practically every major database, beyond the Microsoft stack, with ease. This means you can pull data from your data warehouse, no matter the platform.  

Unlimited Joins

Power BI hosts the capabilities for unlimited joins to facilitate the same sequential flow of transactions in your ERP system, meaning you can unlock key segments of information for end-to-end processes.  

Data Visualization

With 30+ visualization options, the tool supports advanced analytics to view your data in a range of formats including pivot tables, line and bar charts. This means you can view your data in a manageable way to drive actionable insights from large data sets.  

How does Microsoft Power BI connect to NetSuite?

With third-party connectors, Power BI can connect to a range of data sources. One common way to connect Power BI to NetSuite is through Suite Analytics Connect also known as ODBC connector.

It is crucial to choose a Power BI connector to NetSuite that maintains data quality. When deploying a third-party connector to transform data, consider performance, reliability, and design.

Introducing Pre-Built Power BI Solutions for NetSuite

Pre-built Power BI solutions have changed reporting capabilities. Now you can access insights and drive results which were once reserved for larger businesses, without the need to hire skilled developers to build BI solutions from scratch.

This is where ZoneReporting comes in. ZoneReporting offers an out-of-the-box consolidated reporting platform with pre-built solutions for enhanced reporting capabilities.  

The app has been intentionally built by CFOs and COOs who understand the tough questions that need to be answered.  

With a bi-directional connection between Power BI and your NetSuite ERP, data can be pulled in and connected with other data sources to drive reports. With pre-built solutions, implementation happens in weeks not months.  

Zone Reporting’s three-step process makes this happen:

  1. Reconstructs ERP data from NetSuite.
  1. Enhances data through pre-built reports.
  1. Leverages 350+ prebuilt connectors to integrate additional key data sources.

Why Choose a Pre-Built BI solution like ZoneReporting?

Single Enterprise-Wide reporting platform

With native integration, there is no additional requirement for 3rd-party connectors such as ODBC or a requirement to purchase NetSuite SuiteAnalytics Connect. Access all your data sources in one reporting tool i.e. Salesforce, Google Analytics, Microsoft Stack). As data refreshes automatically, you are looking at the most up-to-date data in your reports to drive impactful insights.  

Pre-built reports that provide significant and actionable business insights

With 50+ pre-built reports, business insight can be delivered on day one of being live. Whether you are looking for financial, inventory or cash-flow forecasting reports, ZoneReporting has a pre-built solution for you. Plus, with machine learning tools you can create specific reports for your unique business requirements.  

Time and money savings

With a pre-built solution, less time and expenditure are spent on building and maintaining data-warehousing activities with pre-built reports based on common business requirements.  


In short, accessing historical business data in a manageable, readable form can empower businesses to make strategic decisions and future-proof their organization. This article identified how the emergence of Business Intelligence solutions has helped organizations view their data in new ways to drive strategic insights.  

The Pre-built BI solution ZoneReporting, combines Microsoft’s Power BI tool and the No.1 cloud ERP, NetSuite. This bi-directional connection empowers finance, management, and operations teams to make evidence-based decisions. Built by COOs and CFOs real business challenges, the solution can encourage businesses to become more agile, and proactive with minimal effort in a data-driven landscape.  

Still interested? Watch our a recording of our Webinar ZoneReporting: The only pre-built Power BI Solution for NetSuite to learn more about Power BI and NetSuite integration to enable decisions based on real-time numbers and data.  

Short on time? We’ve got you covered! Watch our solution consultant Jim Doyle on our YouTube Series ‘The ERP Coach’ take you through the Reporting options in NetSuite here.

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