The last quarter has seen several updates focused on security, customization and data connectivity. August 2021 brought in the preview of default sensitivity labelling for paginated reports allowing users to classify critical content across both Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service. In the Power BI service, sensitivity labels can be applied to datasets, reports, dashboards and data flows. The label and protection settings are then continued through when data from Power BI is exported to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF files.
September 2021 continued the sensitivity label support for Power BI template files, introduced the general availability of Power BI Connector in Power Automate and released a public preview of APIs to determine who has access to what Power BI Artifacts allowing users to programmatically retrieve user and permission information for most Power BI Assets. October 2021 saw the general availability of Power BI – Azure Purview integration, the preview introduction of DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services and the general availability of Premium Gen2 (2nd generation platform for Premium Capacities), the new platform promising improved performance, stability and greater scale of usage.
As always, we love to bring our favorites to you and our customers, making sure our solutions incorporate the best that Power BI has to offer.
“Augmented BI introduces vital emerging capabilities — empowering users to become citizen data scientists drawing on the power of ML and broadening the reach of data and analytics to all decision-makers via conversational UIs. Industry leaders already realize the mission-critical nature of these platforms — deploying BI platforms infused with the power of AI can be a key competitive differentiator.
In 2020, 49% of data and analytics decision-makers at firms with an advanced level of insights-driven business maturity expect their organization to use augmented BI platforms, compared with only 31% at firms with a beginner level of maturity.” - Forrester
Each vendor was evaluated against 15 criteria grouped into 3 categories including the Current offering, the Strategy and finally market presence. Microsoft received the highest score of any competing vendor in both strategy and current offering placing them as the leader for Augmented BI Platforms Q3. Forrester summarized by stating that “Microsoft Power BI is a clear choice for Azure and/or O365 clients,” continuing “Its hard not to consider Power BI as your top choice for an Enterprise BI Platform”.
Back in May 2021 the introduction of Goals in Power BI Premium was made. Goals in Power BI are “data-driven, collaborative, and adaptable way to measure key business metrics” allowing teams to curate defined business metrics and aggregate them into a consolidated view.
Once these are set, teams then can measure progress against defined goals, and drill down into the data to better understand the drivers. The September update saw two new preview services for Power BI Goals including automated status rules and improved filtering.
A key attribute of a goal defined within Power BI scorecards is its status. Authors will be able to automate status updates based on rules that govern that goal or subgoal, to clearly articulate goals that are on track or falling behind. Statuses can be set based on a value, percentage of target met, date conditions, or a combination of all three.
Improved filtering capabilities, as well as keyword search functionality have further enabled teams to quickly determine how they are tracking, and better understand key drivers across the business. As of September, Goals for Power BI Mobile apps is also available, allowing you to monitor performance from any smart phone or device.
Previously in Power BI aggregations had to be supported and maintained by advanced query-optimisation techniques. When working with massive datasets scaling to petabytes, the security, management, and accessibility of this information took specialized skill and optimization effort to provide enterprise-wide analysis capabilities. The public preview of automatic aggregations in Power BI promises to alleviate some of these limitations allowing users to “unlock massive datasets without having to copy large volumes of data or manage data loads,” by introducing an AI-driven solution that will automatically create and manage aggregations, whilst optimizing performance and adapting to new usage patterns.
A brilliant feature now generally available for Power BI Premium and Premium per User license holders, the Backup and Restore feature uses existing connections between Power BI and Azure, including the ability to register an Azure Data Lake Gen2 storage account at the tenant or workspace level to facilitate dataflow storage operations. The ability to backup and restore Power BI datasets provides a stable migration path from existing Analysis Services workloads to Power BI Premium, but also supports disaster recovery, data retention compliance requirements, migration between tenants and more.
As part of the GA, new improvements including support for multi-geo capacities, removing the limitation of being restricted to the Power BI home region and automatic initialization of the backup folder have been introduced. The preview version of Backup and Restore required the removal and reconfiguration of the storage account if the initialization of the backup folder was required. This is no longer the case, if workspaces / capacities are already associated with a storage account, no additional configuration is required to instantiate backups as Power BI creates a backup folder automatically.
The preview release of the API export functionality now allows you to export Power BI reports to PDF, PowerPoint and PNG using REST calls. For Premium and Embedded Gen2 capacities only limitations relevant to Premium/Embedded Gen1 capacity restrictions have been removed, including number of Power BI exports allowed per hour (now set at 50 report pages per minute per capacity), and no concurrent report page export limitations.