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Senior Manager of Business Management Services & Nonprofit Practice

James spent over 20 years at Microsoft as a Senior Program Manager. He’s a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and has a Project Management Professional (PMP) designation. James is also a full-stack software developer and can architect high quality technical solutions. A lover of all things outer space, James is a volunteer for the Mars Society, the world’s largest nonprofit devoted to sending people to the planet Mars.

Get more from your data to make better business decisions faster with new features from the Microsoft Power BI Platform.

At Microsoft’s annual Ignite conference last week,  significant new features for its flagship reporting product, Power BI, were announced.  Check out some of the ways this can help your business grow by gaining insights faster and with better reliability and integration.


Maximize your Investment: New Excel & Teams Integrations

Constantly improving software gets you more out of your investment and do more with your systems.  When there is deeper integration, you gain efficiencies and productivity out of your tools and platforms quickly.

Two great products, Excel and Power BI, historically better together, are doing even more to help organizations get to data and analyze it more quickly and with ease.

New updates to Excel provide the ability to browse Power BI’s datasets and bring them into spreadsheets and PivotTables easily.  More users across the organization now have access to data and can manipulate it quickly with well-known tools like Excel to get fast results.

Teams is also getting a first-class add-in for Power BI which enables rich experiences to be embedded in Teams channels, providing dashboards, reports, datasets and entire workspaces to be accessed and manipulated all within the Teams client.  This will continue to make Teams a one-stop collaboration and communication experience, as has been Microsoft’s plan.


Widen the consumption of data: Natural Language Summaries

Data reports can be frustrating for business users when they can’t easily find what they are looking for.  Microsoft has addressed just that, with a feature called “smart narratives” which provides summarizations in plain English of a Power BI report’s content.  These narratives are updated when data is manipulated by the user, and the text provided is easily editable and customizable through a drag and drop interface that is fully integrated with Power BI.  While other toolsets have similar functionality, the Power BI team took the time to ensure this feature was well-designed, intuitive, and easy to use.


Seeing is Believing: New Diagram View for Power Query

Users of Power Query can now access a new flowchart-like view that will allow them new fine-grained control to manipulate their query and its transformation steps to build a desired dataset.  This new visual presentation also includes the dependencies between queries and the exact sequence of individual transformations.  This new feature is coming soon and will be initially available only in Power BI online dataflows, not in the Power BI Desktop editing tool, but that will eventually be upgraded as well to include this feature.

All of these features, with the addition of updates to Power Automate to provide new visuals, and integration with Microsoft’s new Hololens 2 augmented reality headset, provide a compelling story to enterprises that have not yet begun their transition to Power BI reporting.


Bringing Premium to the Users

Licensing is usually not a fun topic, but when the costs are going down, that’s great news!  Microsoft has announced that their Premium licensing tier has made changes, offering a per-user licensing model, giving the high-end Power BI experience to a wider audience.

The Premium licensing tier has always provided much greater scale for large datasets, as well as additional functionality such as the ability to publish reports to general users that do not have a PowerBI license, and advanced AI capabilities.

Individuals will be able to upgrade their $10/month Pro license to Premium for free during the preview period.  Final pricing for General Availability has not been announced but Microsoft promises it will be “uniquely affordable and highly competitive in the industry.”

Premium is also adding additional capacity so that the overall service is faster and enabling an auto-scale feature that will automatically provision additional virtual CPU cores when overloads are detected by the service.

Overall, faster, more performant and cheaper, is a good thing!


At Artic Consulting, we have deep experience with building Power BI reports and dashboards.  Start a Conversation with us to see how we can best help your business to leverage these innovations.

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