“New” Power BI

Microsoft Power BI offering is going through another evolution. New tools and services, available only as preview, have introduced significant changes as compared to Microsoft’s current approach to providing self-service BI capabilities.

In this post,  I will briefly talk about new tools/services and see how this will impact Microsoft BI community, both users and developers.

Power BI Dashboard

Power BI Dashboard is a cloud based service to create dashboards. You can create datasets, reports and dashboards using a web interface. It has capability to connect to lot of data sources including on-premise SSAS as well as couple of SAAS based applications like Salesforces.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM etc. This eliminates the need to install any tool on your desktop. All you need is web browser to access Power BI service.

https://preview.powerbi.com/

Here is a screen shot of Power BI dashboard. It provides better experience for creating dashboard layout as compared to Excel. However it is not functionally rich at this stage.

New Power BI 01

Power BI Designer

Power BI Designer (PBID) decouples certain capabilities from Excel and offers them in a standalone tool. PBID combines the capabilities of Power Query and Power View along with some additional features for dashboards.  Again, this eliminates the need for Excel as a desktop tool to explore data and create reports. However, currently PBID lacks certain features available in Excel.

Here is screen shot of Query View.

New Power BI 02

Here is screen shot of Power View.

New Power BI 03

Consultant’s Point of View

  • Key point here is to decouple Power BI from Office so that customers who do not have latest version of Office and SharePoint can use Power BI. Of course, it offers some new features for dashboards.
  • Deciding which tool to use in a given context is becoming even more difficult. Historically, Microsoft has been integrating BI capabilities in existing products (Office, SQL Server, SharePoint), however adoption has been challenging due to complexity of end to end technology stack. Now cloud and mobile further add to this complexity.
  • Limited support to connect to on-premise data sources.
  • PBID is being introduced with some of the capabilities available in Excel. Power Pivot data models,  Power maps, some features from Power View are missing in PBID. Again, too many options creates confusion for everyone.
  • Per user cost for Power BI is too much for lot of customers.

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