8 Things You Should Know about Power BI: Key Takeaways from the 2016 Microsoft Data Insights Summit
I just got back from the Microsoft Data Insights Summit that was held in sunny Bellevue, Washington. What a great event! There was a sellout crowd of around 1,500 live attendees and hundreds more streamed the event online. Microsoft’s cloud-based business intelligence service, Power BI, is celebrating a few major milestones; including:
Microsoft Power BI Stats:
- Used by more than 20,000 companies
- 5 million active subscribers
- Over the past 12-months, addition of more than 265 features
- 45,000 votes UserVoice
That is pretty impressive, particularly since this information is based on last year’s numbers.
I came back with so much great information it’s difficult to decide where to start. Here is a high-level summary, and I’ll do deeper dive on some of these topics in the coming weeks.
8 Power BI Takeaways from the 2016 Microsoft Data Insights Summit
- Power BI has deepened integration with Excel. Use Excel PivotTable as a Power BI dataset and query it like any other data source.
- Use the Excel connector to easily “pin” live-updating data from the Excel desktop app to a Power BI dashboard.
- Role level security is being introduced to provide granular control around who can access specific rows of data. Provides for showing users a subset of information based on what they’re allowed to see by their role. This was previously only available when connecting to SSAS and using Live Query.
- Collaborate Using Workspaces – Power BI workspaces (aka groups) provide for sharing and working on content for groups. This will require a Pro license and allows both private and public sharing of dashboards and reports.
- Improvements to Power BI’s natural language Q&A interface will be generally available in April 2016 to make it even simpler to use, with helpful visual cues, improved performance and an overall cleaner look.
- Microsoft Research released SandDance, a new visualization that shows data points as cubes on a three-dimensional graph and useful for data visualizations, pattern identification, trends, and insights. It’s currently available in beta for Windows and Power BI, and aims to make it possible for people to look at data in interesting ways.
- Improved administrative reporting for tenant-level usage of reports, dashboard, datasets and content packs. This will help organizations understand how their employees are using Power BI and the different features of the service, including reports and dashboards.
- Power BI REST API – for the techy in all of us. Using the API we can now create custom Power BI dashboards with real-time data push. Using any programming language that supports REST calls, you can create a business solution that updates a Power BI dashboard in real-time.
With the Power BI REST API, you can:
- Authenticate Power BI REST operations with Azure Active Directory OAuth2
- Create and get datasets
- Set a retention policy to automatically clean up old data
- Get and update table schemas
- Add and delete rows
- Get groups
- Import PBIX or Excel files
- Get tiles
That’s just a taste of the topics covered. I heard great feedback from the attendees I met. There is a lot of excitement about Power BI and how it will greatly improve an organizations reporting and dashboard capabilities.
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