Power BI Updates - January 2021

Power BI Updates - January 2021

Power BI Updates in November and December continued to focus on improving usability across a range of different functions including updated iconography for fields, a new model view to support complex datasets and color coding for table cards.  One of the most exciting updates this quarter is the preview release of DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services, and definitely a feature we are looking forward to taking advantage of with our customers.

As these updates are rolled out to Power BI you may start to see them used in the solutions that we deliver. It is always interesting to know what new tools have been made available to solve data and analytics problems in new and creative ways.

DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services (preview) 

One of the biggest game changers to be released this quarter, this feature allows report authors to use DirectQuery to connect to Azure Analysis Services or Power BI datasets in combination with other DirectQuery and imported data.

Prior to this feature, it was not possible to enhance existing, published models, and add more components to create a new local model.  This meant enterprise models had to be re-invented and subsequently augmented with additional data to support new analysis requirements. 

The DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services feature enables authors to directly query existing enterprise data models and augment with additional data sources and columns.

Anomaly Detection (Preview)

This is a nifty new feature that automatically detects anomalies in your time series data and provides natural language explanations for detected anomalies by conducting a root cause analysis across the fields in your data model to figure out possible explanations.

The good news is that anomaly detection is highly customisable, allowing you to configure the sensitivity of the algorithm, shape, size and color.   You can also control the fields that are used for analysis by simply dragging and dropping into the "Explain by" field.

Once the report is published consumers can view the anomalies and the explanations providing an easy to understand visual of data movement, without having to drill through or slice the data manually.

Small multiples (preview)

An update our own Solution Advisory team are very excited about - 'Small Multiples' feature is one that we have been waiting for since Power BI was first released!  

"Small multiples, or trellising, splits a visual into multiple versions of itself, presented side-by-side, with its data partitioned across these versions by a chosen dimension (e.g., splitting a “sales by category” column chart across product lines or country)."  Historically, we would have to create multiple visuals to effectively mimic partitioning the data to clearly articulate multiple categories.  The difficulty here was ensuring coherent interactivity between the visuals and attempt to communicate the relationship between each category selected.

Small multiples now partitions the data by the dimension you choose, and visually represents as a grid in a single visual.   The axes are now synchronised and interactivity ranges from clicking on titles, data points, category labels and legend to cross filter / highlight against each multiple. As this feature is currently in public preview mode, small multiples is only applicable for  bar/column, line, and area charts. 

New capabilities in embedding for your organization

 Historically, embedding Power BI reports were relatively easy, but sacrificed a few key capabilities along the way.  Adding a simple setting on your embed configuration allows consumers to access the Power BI action bar, with the same experience as if in the Power BI Service. By enabling read / write permission in Active Directory full functionality of the action bar becomes available including ability to favourite embedded reports, add personal bookmarks and use persistent filters.

Power BI Premium per user public preview now available

Power BI Premium Capacity was originally the only licensing model available for large organisations to take advantage of premium only functionality available in Power BI.  Premium Per User now allows teams and organisation to purchase premium licenses on a per user basis, particularly useful, and far more cost effective if you have a smaller number of analysts or report authors, and do not require the original capacity model offered.

Premium Per User (PPU) includes all Power BI Pro license capabilities, and adds features such as paginated reports, AI, and other capabilities that are only available to Premium subscribers.