Microsoft PowerBI: News from WPC

Aug 20, 2014 / By Felipe Ferreira

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During the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) that happened last month, Microsoft made public some of the new functionalities that we can expect to see soon on Microsoft PowerBI.

If you were on another planet in the last few months, and didn’t heard about PowerBI for Office 365, I’ve included a list of the set of tools that comprise Microsoft BI stack in the cloud. Keep in mind, they are different tools and not a single product, each tool serving a different purpose. At the date of writing of this article the tools that comprise the entire solutions are:

  • Power Pivot
  • Power View
  • Power Query
  • Power Map
  • Power Q&A
  • Power BI Windows Store App

Some of those were already available as an Excel add-in or built-in as part of the Excel product for a long time and now had being re-packed on this cloud solution, while others, like the Power Q&A are a cloud-only solution.

So, what are the big news from the WPC 2014? During the conference, we watched a demonstration of what to expect for the coming months, so today I’ll discuss the ones I believe were the most important. If you want to see the entire presentation you can find it here.

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New visualizations!

One of the key issues we were facing with the current version of Power BI, was the lack of some visualizations the customer always asks for, the main one being the gauge. It is incredible how popular those little gauges have become with time – decision makers love it, so it’s really good to see they are finally available in Power BI.

Besides the gauge, we can see in the image above taken from the WPC demonstration, other data visualizations like the radar chart and the treemap.

Edition capabilities in the browser

Another important thing that was announced was the possibility to edit the dashboard and change the data visualizations on the browser, without using Excel. It doesn’t seem like much, but this can be very important, and indicate a shift in Microsoft behaviour. If you look at all the Power BI functionalities, and in fact, at the entire BI stack, Excel was always the central tool, you needed Excel to basically everything. And now we are seeing some nice features that you can manage and control inside the browser. Let’s wait for the next steps.

Important to mention that everything is HTML5 instead of Silverlight, meaning we can have the same experience in basically any device.

Partner Solution Pack

If I was asked to name just a single announcement that was made that could drastically change the market, it would be this one.

Partner Solution Pack is the ability for the Microsoft partners to create a bundled BI solution including the data, connectivity to the data sources and all the interactive reports. That means that we can as a user buy a solution pack from Salesforce for instance, connect it with our Salesforce account and it would automatically create a fully interactive dashboard with our own data.

Now, imagine the other way around: you, as a Microsoft Partner now has the ability to create a complete BI solution to your customers and make it available on the cloud. And your customers can buy this package, connect it with their data and make use of the solution in a manner of seconds.

The Partner Solution Pack in my opinion will create a huge market for all Microsoft partners and provide us, the users, with tons of good packages and the ability to have a BI solution paying much less than what would cost creating everything from scratch.

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But you may tell me that we have other tools in the market that can do this, connect on partner applications and build a dashboard, what would be the advantage of using Power BI over the existing tools?

The biggest advantage is the PowerBI Q&A, as you can see in the screenshot in every screen we have a simple search box at the top of the page, which allows the user to do simple natural language questions to query the data. So, if the user wants to know the “opportunity size by month and by industry” all you have to do is ask and PowerBI will find the data, and choose the best visualization method for you. After that, you can just pin this report in the dashboard and that’s it, now you can keep track of this important information on a daily basis. Without requiring a single line of code, without asking for a change request to the IT department and going to a huge queue of requests that would take months to be addressed.

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I hope that in this article I was able to show you the potential this new functionalities can bring to your company. If you need more information about PowerBI, or if you’re as excited as I am with it and want to start using it right away, just contact us and our team will be glad to work with your company to either develop a BI solution that consumes your data, or to plan the development of your own Partner Solution Pack so you can offer your customers a complete BI solution using PowerBI for Office 365.

Click here to watch the entire WPC announcement and see the PowerBI reports in action. The PowerBI demonstration starts at 21:10 minutes.

 

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