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Microsoft Adds New Features to Power BI During Recent Ignite Conference

by | Oct 13, 2020 | Articles

During the Ignite conference in late September, Microsoft rolled out several new features for Power BI. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key features announced during Microsoft’s tech conference.

Power BI Premium 

The Power BI Premium subscription will be soon available on a per-user basis. Right now, Premium is only available for $5,000 USD per month. This model worked for large companies, which may have saved on individual licenses for each of their users. However, for smaller companies the premium option was a pretty stiff price to pay.

Another pain point is that the Power BI Professional license doesn’t give users access to some key AI capabilities.

This will change now, as companies will be able to upgrade their existing professional licenses to Premium. Although Microsoft didn’t reveal the exact price, the company said it will be “uniquely affordable and highly competitive in the industry.”

Natural Language Capabilities 

Earlier this year, during the Microsoft Business Applications Summit (MBAS), Microsoft announced Smart Narratives. The Smart Narratives is an augmented analytics feature that provides data summarizations in reports.

The feature gives descriptions of data and can automatically update when a report is filtered or drilled down. When used together with the Q&A natural language feature, Power BI users will start getting into the advanced augmented analytics field. Please read our previous article on Smart Narratives for further details.

Another amazing feature is Anomaly Detection. This isn’t available yet, but once launched the feature will help to find sudden changes and outliers in a data set. After discovering anomaly, the feature will be able to provide an automatically generated explanation of the data anomaly.

With this tool, an analyst can double check herself for potential mistakes in the data or if there aren’t mistakes, but true anomalies, then see an explanation behind the outlier.

New Look for Power Query 

The good old Power Query is also getting a new look. A new visual interface will appear, Diagram View, instead of the classic data grid view. In the Diagram View queries will appear together in a flowchart representation. It’s probably hard to imagine right now how the new Power Query will look and feel, but the author is excited about this feature.

According to Microsoft, the visual data preparation will be available “within the next calendar year.” Despite the new look, Power Query will still work on the M language, so the core features aren’t probably changing that much; just a better overall user-friendly interface.

Integration with Teams 

Power BI will get a new add-in application for Microsoft Teams. The integration will include the ability to browse reports and dashboards, and directly embed them into a Teams chat. This way absolutely everyone in the team can explore the same data.

In addition to the linking option, users can also browse Power BI datasets. Users will be able to open a Power BI report in Teams and collaborate on reports right there instead of switching  between Teams and Power BI.

“A critical part of creating a data culture is ensuring data is available when and where decisions are made,” said Kim Manis, a program manager at the Power BI Desktop team. “It’s going to be great seeing organizations have data one click away.”

Of course, it will take some time before users learn how to take advantage of all new Power BI features. But once the community digests and masters the new features, Power BI will take big steps forward toward better user interface, ease of use and new AI capabilities.

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