BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Desktop Update, Service Updates, API Updates, Mobile App Update, Visual Contest Results, Content Pack – Stripe) – Office 2016 (Excel Updates, Power Query Update, Excel Predictions) – SQL Server Analysis Service 2012 Tabular Update – SQL Server Analysis Services 2016 Extended Events

So this week there was once again a whole host of updates with Power BI, as well as finally the official release of Office 2016.

It sure is a busy time be in Business Intelligence space, especially in the Microsoft space.

So let’s get into it…

Power BI – Desktop Update

So I woke up this morning to see that there has been a massive release in the Power BI Desktop application. I immediately downloaded and installed the update. I have already used some of the features today.

And there was a whole host of updates, too many to go through all of them here, but I would just like to highlight the ones which I think are really great additional features.

I am really enjoying the Report Authoring features, and I have mentioned it before but the drill up and drill down features are really great and allows for more details to be in the report which you will not initially see on face value.

Then under the data modelling section I have to say that I am currently not any DAX guru, but I do appreciate how powerful it is, and how you can really extend your data with so many DAX functions. In particular is the Calculated Table, which Chris Webb has already blogged about and has some great information here: Calculated Tables In Power BI

And there are some great new features with regards to Data Connectivity as well as Data Transformations & Query Editor improvements, which all forms part of Power Query. Which once again enables the author of the reports to enrich the data, which in turn will create great visualizations.

You can find out all about all 44 updates here: 44 New Features in the Power BI Desktop September Update

Power BI – Service Updates

So yet another great update on the Power BI platform.

I think that finally being able to customize the size of the tiles is really good. So that you can fit more meaningful information on your dashboard.

Another great service update is to be able to Share Read Only dashboards with other users. This is great because often you create dashboard and reports, which you want to share with users and let them interact with your data, but not make any changes.

As well as having more sample content packs which will be a great way to showcase how powerful Power BI is.

You can read about it and all other updates here: Power BI Weekly Service Update

Power BI – API Updates

There is no pretty picture for the API updates, but there are some great new features.

The one that I think is really good is the ability to be able to embed a Power BI tile into an application. So at least it gives you the ability to have the great features of Power BI in your application without having to go directly to Power BI.

I also see that there is the ability from what I can see to pass some filters or parameters into the Power BI report via the URL which is really good and can prove to extend the functionality.

These are the details in the API updates

  • Imports API
  • Dashboards API
  • Tiles and Tile API
  • Groups API
  • Integrating Tiles into Applications
  • Filtering Tiles integrated into your Application

You can find out all about it here: Power BI API updates roundup

Power BI – Another Mobile Update

The Microsoft team must be working 24 hours a day with the amounts of updates and additions that are coming out from Microsoft.

They have released some additional updates into the Mobile application which are great, as we all are well aware that having a mobile application really can help showcase your solution. As well as ensure that it gets to the right users and that they can see the related information.

You can find out about the updates to the IOS, Windows and Android details here: Power BI mobile Mid-September updates are here

Power BI – Visual Contest Results – People’s Choice Awards

As you can see above this is the first people’s choice award for the Visual Contest result, which I can see myself using that with my existing data.

You can find out about it and the other entries here: Power BI Best Visual Contest – 1st People’s Choice Award!

Power BI – Content Pack Stripe

Once again this was another great content pack update this week.

There are a whole host of people who are using the Stripe platform payment for their online business. From the really small guys to the big guys. And this gives everyone a really great and easy way to understand and visualize your data. As well as what payments you are getting.

You can find out more about it here: Monitor and Explore your Stripe data in Power BI

Office 2016

I am very happy to see that Office 2016, has been released before the actual year of 2016.

I have mainly been focused on all the features in Excel, due to being in BI. But there are a whole host of updates, fixes and new additions in Office 2016.

You can read all about it and all the details here: The new Office is here

Excel 2016 – Features

With Office 2016 being released this blog post from the Office team shows a lot of the great features that are available in Excel 2016.

It does showcase a lot of great features focused on Business Analysts, as well as how people can leverage all the new features in Excel 2016.

You can read up all about it here: New ways to get the Excel business analytics features you need

Power Query Update

With so many things going on within Power BI, there has been another great release with Power Query.

As you can see with the picture above it is great to finally have the ability to write your own custom MDX or DAX query to get the data which you require from your SSAS source.

Another great feature is the ability to extract a query from one of the steps within your current Power Query query, and then you can use this in another Power Query window. As they say it gives you the ability really easily use the same code over again, without having to do it all over again.

You can read all about it here: Power Query for Excel September 2015 update

Excel Future Prediction

I recently came across a really interesting article from some of the Industry experts within the BI space, and for them to predict how they see Excel’s use as well as where they see it fitting into the BI space in the upcoming years.

There were some really insightful and interesting details, which made me think about how Excel has evolved over the years, and with the current additional investments going into Excel, how this is going to be leveraged and improved in the years to come.

You can read all about their thoughts here: 27 MICROSOFT EXCEL EXPERTS PREDICT THE FUTURE OF EXCEL IN BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE

SQL Server Analysis Service 2012 – Tabular Update

There has been a CU update for SQL Server 2012, and one of the great updates relates to SSAS Tabular for columns that have a high cardinality. Which was a performance issue before this release.

It is great to see that this has been addressed, especially due to the fact that in SSAS Tabular there will be cases when columns will have a high cardinality. And even though it is often super quick, we would like everything to be as fast as possible.

You can read all about the updates to SQL Server CU 8 here: Cumulative update package 8 for SQL Server 2012

SQL Server Analysis Services 2016 – Extended Events

I think that it is great to see that we are finally getting some additional features and updates to Analysis Services.

When I read up about the extended events, this is something really great to see. I actually have been in an exercise to monitor what has been going on our SSAS instance both in terms of performance, as well as which users are accessing the cubes and what they are doing. And currently there is not a super elegant solution to achieve this.

With the extended events this makes it a lot easier and gives you the ability to quickly get the information that you require.

I also love it that you are able to have a live query, which you can use to see if you are specifically running something. As well as if you want to ensure that you are capturing the right events.

This is definitely something that I will be looking to use when we finally can install and use SQL 2016.

You can find out about all the details here: Using Extended Events with SQL Server Analysis Services 2016 CTP 2.3

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI – (Pin to Dashboard, Extending Power BI Pro Trial, Mobile App Update, All About Dashboards, comScore Content Pack) – Cortana Analytics (Azure Data Catalog) – SQL Server 2016 (SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) Tabular Parallel Partition Processing) – Office 2016 (Official Release Date 22 Sep 2015) – Project Prajna

Once again there was a lot of updates from Microsoft, as well as some other really interesting information within the BI Space. So let’s get going!

Power BI – Weekly Service Update (Pin to Dashboard, Extending Power BI Pro Trial)

I have to say that they are rolling out service updates almost every week now. Which is great to see and shows the commitment from Microsoft to roll out changes and requirements from users.

In this week’s update it is good to see that there are now some additional options when creating new items to Pin to the dashboard. I do know in the past that I have often found it a little difficult to get the right dashboard item on the correct dashboard.

Also it is good to see that in some cases Microsoft will extend the trial by a further 60 days. As I have experienced in the past, you either do not have the dedicated time to try out a service when you sign up. Or you have not tested out all the features to make an informed decision. And I am pretty sure that after 120 days it will become clear that Power BI is fantastic and a great investment.

You can read all about the Weekly Service Update here: Power BI Weekly Service Update

Power BI – Mobile App Update

It is great to see yet another update with the Mobile App for Power BI. They have made some great additions and improvements. I am looking forward to trying out the collaboration. As I often see that this is a feature that when used can really lead to some great conversations or a great way to promote some great work.

It is also great having the Single Sign On. As even though it does not take a lot of effort. We all enjoy not having to put in our username and password one additional time.

You can read about the additional details, updates and fixes here: What’s new on the Power BI Mobile apps?

Power BI – All About the Dashboards

The Power BI Dashboards provide a great platform for showing valuable information which can very quickly show you information that is important. As well as the dashboards can give you some insights into the underlying data.

And I do think that if you design a great dashboard, you are almost inviting the user to have a look around and interact with your data.

The blog post listed below, explains, shows and gives some great advice on how to build the ideal dashboard depending on what you are trying to display.

You can find out more details here: All About Dashboards

Power BI – Content Pack comScore

This week’s Power BI Content pack is comScore. It is another great content pack for customers and users who use comScore.

I do think that due to it being available on many different platforms there is the potential to provide some great insights into their data.

You can read all about it here: Visualize your comScore Digital Analytix data with Power BI

Cortana Analytics – Azure Data Catalog Overview

Even though Azure Data Catalog is currently available in preview, I do think that this is something that will be integrated into Cortana Analytics.

This is really a great and informative blog post by SQLChick (Melissa Coates) in terms of seeing and understanding how Azure Data Catalog works. This is something that I am interested in, as well as going to look into and see how we can leverage this within my work organization.

I have to say that it looks really good, simple to use, but at the same time making it really powerful at the same time. I also think that once this has been implemented it can really enable an organization to leverage off all their data investments, and allow the users to consume this data. Which in turn can lead to the business gaining more insights, which in turn will lead to better results!

You can find out more information here: Overview of Azure Data Catalog in the Cortana Analytics Suite

SQL Server 2016 – Tabular Model Parallel Partition Processing

Looking ahead to SQL 2016 they are putting in a lot of effort into the different BI components.

This is yet another great update and something that I am sure a lot of people have been asking for and hoping for it to be completed. As well know when we can do things in parallel it means that everything runs that much faster. And who does not like things going faster?

The great thing is that in SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular, there is nothing extra that you have to do in order to run it in parallel. As long as you have created your partitions you are good to go.

You can read all about it here: Parallel partition processing available for Tabular Models in SQL Server 2016 Preview

Office 2016 – Official Release Date 22 September 2015

I have to say that I cannot wait for Office 2016, in particular Excel 2016.

They have done some amazing updates and new additions specifically in Excel. I do know that as soon as I can get my hands on it, I will get it installed and working. And then try and get as many people as I can to also upgrade.

It is great to see that it is being released so soon, and I am sure that a lot of people have provided a lot of feedback and details for Microsoft.

So I am eagerly waiting for 22 September 2015.

You can find out more details here: Microsoft’s Office 2016: The new rules for the rollout, starting September 22

Project Prajna – Big Data Analytics Framework

The final thing to chat about today is Project Prajna.

It is good to see that the Microsoft Research’s Cloud Computing and Storage (CCS) group is working on getting the best out of the big data analytics as well as leveraging the big data storage all within one system.

This in my mind will make it easier and faster to gain really good insights into your big data investments.

It is interesting that they are building a platform where people can accesses it and develop using any .NET programming language. Which I am sure that there are a lot of developers who have experience in .NET, which means that they can leverage their existing experience directly into Project Prajna.

You can read more details about it here: Microsoft forges ahead with ‘Prajna’ big-data analytics framework for cloud services

Power BI (Visual Contest, On the Go, Hyperlinks, Drill Up, Drill Down, tyGraph Content Pack) – SQL Server 2016 – CTP 2.3 (SSAS Tabular with a dose of speed, SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)) – Power BI (Personal Gateway for Power BI Update)

Right once again there is a lot to get into this week, and as with every week there are a whole host of Power BI updates.

Power BI – Visual Contest

I have to say that this is both a smart and fantastic move by Microsoft. This allows them to get or gain a whole host of new chart types that can be consumed within Power BI, without having to spend a lot of development time getting it all completed.

As well as there are a lot of smart people that have some great idea’s. And this gives them a great platform to showcase their idea’s. As well as get some recognition for their efforts.

As you can see in the above screenshot, this is a great KPI example. To me it does look similar to the Datazen KPI’s. But I do know that it would be welcome in Power BI.

You can read all about the contest details here: Announcing the Power BI Best Visual Contest!

Power BI – On the Go (Mobile Apps)

There has been another great update to the Mobile Apps for Power BI. And it is across all the current mobile platforms that are supported.

I like the idea that you can keep your favorites and have them on a dashboard within the Power BI Mobile application. This gives a very similar experience as with the Web based Power BI. Which is great when you potentially want to see data from different sources.

I also like the fact that you can enable Data Alert Rules, which means you can get alerts on your mobile device when the thresholds that you have set are exceeded. And just means that you do not have to go and keep on checking on reports or data. A much more proactive means of being notified.

There are some additional details which you can read about here: Power BI on the Go

Power BI – Hyperlinks, Drill Down and Drill Up

Once again this week the Power BI team has been very busy and has a whole host of updates to the Power BI Service.

Firstly, is the ability to put inline Hyperlinks, which I think is really great and will get the report consumer a much better and more streamlined experience.

The thing that I think is really fantastic is to have the ability to Drill Down as well as Drill up within the report. They have done another amazing job in making the process so simple to implement. As well as very easy to use when using the report. And I know that very often users ask if there is the ability to Drill Down. I also like the fact that you can then filter on your information once you have drill down. Which makes the entire report experience easy, quick as well as ensure that the users are really happy.

You can read all about it here: Power BI Weekly Service Update

Power BI – Content Pack tyGraph

Another week, another great Content Pack.

This time it is tyGraph, which is something that can be used or reported on if you use Yammer. Which I know more companies are looking to use, especially if it is part of your Office 365 Subscription.

You can read all about it here: Analyze and Monitor your tyGraph Data with Power BI

SQL Server 2016 – CTP 2.3 – SSAS Tabular with Direct Query

This was a very interesting blog post to read, due to the fact that in the past I never really thought of using the DirectQuery mode with SSAS OLAP or Tabular, due to the fact that in the past it did not perform well or fast.

From the blog post they have made some significant improvements in SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3 And it is nice to see that SSAS is finally getting some attention. As well as looking at this example it would allow the report to be run and executed in real time. So if your source data is being updated on a regular interval, it means that going via SSAS Tabular to your Source SQL System you would be able to get up to date data. As well as it being so much quicker this really has the potential to be a game changer for a lot of organizations.

You can read all about it, as well as the details here: SQL Server Analysis Service 2016 CTP 2.3 DirectQuery in action

SQL Server 2016 – CTP 2.3 – SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT)

Just a quick note that they have updated how SSDT will be working going forward.

It appears that they have unified the setup for Database as well as BI (Business Intelligence). It makes perfect sense as the two work hand in hand.

You can read about it here: SQL Server Data Tools Preview update for August 2015

SQL Server 2016 – CTP 2.3 – SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)

It is nice to finally some actual changes and new things happening in SSRS. I am sure I am not the only one that agrees that it has almost been too long for SSRS to get an update. I personally was getting to the point where I was using SSRS as a last resort. But with all the upcoming changes I am sure that looking ahead this will become another alternative or an option for a reporting platform.

As you can see from above, it looks to me as if it will be along the similar lines of Power BI Desktop. Which I think is great so that report developers as well as people using Power BI will be used to a similar reporting experience.

It is also good to see, due to changing the way that they have created the new version of SSRS, that it is supported on pretty much any browser.

You can find out more about it here: What’s New in Reporting Services in SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3

Power BI – Personal Gateway Update

It is great to see another update to the Power BI Personal Gateway. Along with the updates to SSAS OLAP (Multidimensional & Tabular) as well as the support for Custom ODBC drivers. Which means that you can connect to almost any database source.

This is a great alternative to ensure that your data in your Power BI reports are being updated and relevant. Which as I was writing about earlier, if your users are using the Power BI Mobile app, it then means that they can get notifications on the fly. Which can enable them to make the right decisions at the right time.

You can find out more information here: New version of Personal Gateway now available!

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Collaboration, Mobile, Webtrends, Natural Language, Resizing Reports, Increased Limits, Dynamics AX Support) – SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3 – APS Update 4 – Office 2016 (Updates, Publishing Directly to Power BI)

There is a whole stack of updates with regards to Power BI this week, as well as some other updates within the BI space.

I have to quickly point out that I was very fortunate to finally meet Jen Underwood. t (Twitter) It is really great to have the opportunity to have meet up with people that you have followed for so long, read up on all the great things that they have done. And the to finally meet them in person. I do not think that there are many industries where you can actually do this.

Ok enough about me and being star struck, let’s get back to all the BI goodness from the past week.

Power BI – Collaboration

I have to say that I think that this is a really great feature. Because you have already created the workspace within your Power BI Environment, ideally you want to know what other people are thinking and saying. And ideally you want to also be able to view the report to which they are referring to. This is a great way to keep everything in once place.

You can find more details about the Power BI Collaboration here: Collaborate with your Power BI group

Power BI – Mobile Updates

The Power BI team sure have been busy. In this past week they have also updated their Mobile app for Power BI. It is great to see that Microsoft is investing a lot of time and effort into the Mobile area. This really helps when you are showing people how awesome Power BI is, and you can just take your mobile device out of your pocket and quickly show them a Power BI report.

They have made a lot of changes and updates. The thing that I really like is that you can view the Excel files that are directly connected in your Power BI, as well as having the custom colors that you more than likely spent a little too much time just getting right. But at the end it makes for a great looking report.

You can read about it here: What’s new on the Power BI Mobile apps?

Power BI – Content Pack Webtrends

Here is another great Content Pack from the Power BI team and their partners. It is really great to see so many content packs available and I am sure that this is only the start. I am sure that at some point in time, there will eventually be a case where there will be a content pack which will make your life and the people who require some type of reports really happy.

The Webtrends content pack is a great way to see the visitors journey across all the different platforms that Web Trends monitors

You can read about it here: Visualize your Webtrends data in Power BI

Power BI – BI Weekly Service Updates

In the Power BI, BI weekly updates they have put in some great new service features.

The first one is that now they have put some more great work into the Q&A Natural Language engine. As per the blog post below, it now means that it makes it easier to see what other people have been asking in terms of questions. As well as to see what other people have pinned to their dashboard based on what Q&A questions were previously asked.

Next as per the screenshot above is the ability to change the view of your report. This is really great as everyone does not have the same screen size or resolution. So now you can change the view of your report, and then ensure if you know that it is going to be consumed by the mobile audience that it all fits in and looks good! We all like good looking reports.

And finally is that they have increased the limits for the data sets (200) and reports (200). Which is really great. Currently the only downside is that you will have to do quite a bit of scrolling if you have either that many datasets or reports. But I have no doubt that Microsoft will make this easier in due course.

You can read about it here: Power BI Weekly Service Update

Power BI – Dynamics AX Support

In my new role we are using Dynamics AX, and it sure would be great to have direct connectivity into Microsoft Dynamics AX.

It would mean that we could then create reports directly out of the Microsoft Dynamics AX cubes, which means that the users who need this vital information would be able to get the information that they require, when they want it. As well as across the different platforms.

I cannot wait for this to come out.

You can read about it here: Dynamics AX

SQL Server 2016 – CTP 2.3

Unfortunately, no nice picture for SQL Server 2016

But what I do want to highlight is that we are finally getting to see that BI is getting some love and attention in SQL Server 2016. I had no doubt that it was being worked on, but it is always nice to see something. It often gets me thinking of how best this can be used.

I would say that almost all of it relates to SSAS (SQL Server Analysis Services) Tabular and DAX. Which is great to see that SSAS is finally getting some attention. It is really a great product that is used on a daily basis On Premise. And to see that some of the features and work that has gone into Power BI, is making its way back to On Prem.

You can read about all the updates and details of SQL Server CTP 2.3 here: What’s New in Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular models in SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.3

APS – Update 4

With regards to the Analytics Platform System, it is amazing to see how far the product has come. And it does appear that they are also starting to work at light speed, as they are doing with Power BI and SQL Server.

There are some great new updates which I will highlight here, with regards to PolyBase/Hadoop enhancements, T-SQL compatibility improvements to reduce migration friction from SQL SMP, Performance and OEM Hardware on AU4

You can read about it more in detail here: Analytics Platform System Update 4 Generally Available

Office 2016 – Updates

There has been a whole host of new updates and additions to Office 2016. And especially to Excel.

It is really great to see so many new features that are being incorporated and developed. To me personally it shows why Excel is used by so many people across the world, and with this continued investment they will continue to use Excel.

There are so many updates I cannot cover them all here but the three things that I want to highlight quickly is the ability to use your existing data to forecast what could potentially happen in the future. I think that this gives some great insight and is really easy to use.

Next is all the new chart types, which I know people have been asking for, for a long time. As well as being able to use them to show the data in a relevant manner. As we all know it is a lot easier to show things as a picture.

And finally is the ability to publish your Excel Workbook directly to Power BI. I think that it is really great and a smart move, because it allows the users to be able to take all their hard work, and then give them the ability to then leverage Power BI, enabling them to not only create amazing visualizations, but to also have a platform to share, collaborate as well as enable viewing on a mobile device.

You can read all about it here; What’s new for business analytics in Excel 2016