BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Embedded Preview, Data Insights Summit Day two, Desktop Update, Power BI Publisher for Excel, KPI App for Apple Watch, R in Power BI Webinar, Content Packs Intelliboard & Ziosk) – Azure Data Catalog (Generally Available)

So after my last blog post the Data Insights Summit came to a close with a whole host of new features and future things to look forward to. As well as then Microsoft already releasing what they had promised in the typical Power BI fast paced manner. So here are this week’s updates in the world of Business Intelligence

Power BI – Embedded Preview

I literally saw this just before I was about to publish by blog post.

And what you can see from above is that they now are providing the ability to enable application developers to add interactive Power BI reports into their own applications.

I think that this is a great option to have if you already have existing Power BI reports or data sets. It means that you can leverage this into your own application. Which makes it another option on how to integrate Power BI.

You can find out the details here: What is Microsoft Power BI Embedded

Power BI – Data Insights Summit

No doubt one of the highlights of the Data Insights Summit was Nate Silver delivering a great overview around the future of the so called “Big Data”. I have not had time to watch the video yet, but I do plan to very soon.

The second day I found was more around how the new features which were explained in my previous post can be used and integrated into Power BI and leveraged by both the users and customers.

It is great to see that you did have the ability to stream some of the sessions live, which is great for people who could not make it to the actual summit. As well as them providing the ability to watch them later (which I plan on doing)

You can find all the sessions to watch on demand here: Microsoft Data Insights Summit

And if you want to read about the second day of the Data Insights Summit you can read it here: Microsoft Data Insights Summit Livestream: day two

Power BI – Monthly Desktop Update

After the past week’s excitement around Power BI, it was great to see that it did not stop them from releasing the Power BI Desktop update.

It is good to see that they made some improvements in the Report View area with regards to the ability of where to publish your Power BI report, as well as respecting the model settings from SSAS MD.

They are always improving the data modeling experience and it is great to see the focus on direct query with regards to changing the data type of a column in your Power BI Desktop. As well as referential integrity on relationships. And finally the ability to direct query for Oracle and Teradata (Interesting to see how Microsoft have leveraged the offer to Oracle customers!)

And finally they had quite a few data connectivity improvements, most noticeably the R Scripts connector.

You can read up all about the updates here: Power BI Desktop March update feature summary

Power BI – Analyze Power BI in Excel

As it was announced last week I will not go overly into too much detail, but more along how important I think that this update is.

What this means and it is what I have been alluding to and waiting for in anticipation is that we are now starting to see in my opinion SSAS Tabular as a Software as a Service offering. Yes, this is just the start of it, but I have no doubt in my mind that soon you will be able to have SSAS Tabular as you do with the Azure SQL Database or Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

By enabling the people to connect directly to your SSAS Tabular Model via Excel you are connecting to your SSAS Tabular Cloud database.

I also think that as they have mentioned before there are so many people who use Excel and will want to continue using Excel that this gives them the ability to continue using their favorite tool.

I also think that is really great because you can have one source of the truth, which you can then leverage for Power BI and for the Excel Users. Which can also mean that it gives the user the ability to look at a Power BI report and then do their own custom drill down to understand what the Power BI report is saying.

You can find all the details here: Analyze in Excel

Power BI – Publisher for Excel Generally Available

Even though this was released a while ago, it is great to see that it is now Generally Available.

So now you can quickly and easily take your work that you have done in Excel and Pin it directly to your Power BI Dashboard.

Here are the details: Announcing General Availability of Power BI publisher for Excel

Power BI – KPI App for Apple Watch

It is great to see that they have created an app for the Apple watch so that for the people who want to have the KPIs always on hand, it is almost literally on their hand.

You can find out the details here: Always have your KPIs on hand with the Power BI for Apple Watch

Power BI – R in Power BI Webinar

This is just a quick note if you are interested in how you can leverage R in Power BI then there is a demo session happening on 14 April 2016

You can find all the details here: [Webinar] – The Power Of R In Power BI

Power BI – Content Pack Intelliboard

In this content pack from Intelliboard it gives you access to Moodle learning management system.

Which will enable the people to understand how to track and analyze their learning performance.

If you are an Intelliboard customer then you can find the details here: Explore your IntelliBoard data with Power BI

Power BI – Ziosk Content Pack

This is another great content pack from Ziosk which provide an unique dining experience. By using the Ziosk Survey Analytics the restaurants that use Ziosk tablets can gain valuable insight into the survey data. And I am sure that they will also be able to understand who ordered what, when and at what times. Which can provide some amazing insights.

You can find out all about Ziosk Content Pack here: Analyze your Ziosk® data with Power BI

Azure Data Catalog – Generally Available

It is great to see that the Azure Data Catalog is now Generally available. I have no doubt that this can be a key driver in enabling users to find the data that they need quickly and easily without having to send an email or go and ask someone.

It is great to see that they have added additional features and functionality, which will only be improved over time.

You can read up about it here: Announcing the General Availability of Azure Data Catalog

BI-NSIGHT – Data Insights Summit (Watch online for Free) – Power BI (Service Update, Mobile App Update, ClickDimensions Content Pack) – Excel 2016 (Power Pivot Update) – SharePoint 2016 (RTM Released)

There has been quite a bit of activity this week, but just enough so that it was not hectic to try and keep up with all the updates.

Data Insights Summit – Watch Online Free

Just a quick note that you can watch the Data Insights summit online for free, of selected sessions.

I have no doubt that the keynote will be where there will be a whole host of updates and great information.

Here is the link to the article: Data Insights Summit—free online Excel and Power BI sessions

Power BI – Monthly Service Update

There are some really great functional updates in the Power BI Monthly service update.

With the updates in the dashboards it makes it easier to print from Full screen mode, change the width and also to enable or disable the Tile Flow. As per the picture above, is that what your required output is.

It is also great to see that they are always looking to improve the Q&A by adding trend lines, putting in the gauge and area charts. And finally improving the auto-complete which will help the users answer the questions that they are trying to ask. Which I feel in turn means that they can get their answers quicker and easier.

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

Power BI – Mobile App Update

There have been a few updates to the Power BI Mobile app recently for all the mobile platforms.

Having the new report gallery for iPhone and Windows 10 makes it that much easier to find your reports.

A feature that I really like is the offline capability as often you might not have an internet connection, but at least that means due to the reports auto refreshing and the caching you have the ability to still be able to view your data and reports.

The updates to the special tiles is also great to see, as I am sure that the adoption of Power BI on the mobile platform means that this updates make people use their mobile devices even more often.

My final piece that I want to touch on is the ability to view the reports on all mobile platforms. As often the dashboard gives you some great insight into what is happening, but you need some more detail. Or the ability to drill down on your mobile device, and now you can do this and see the underlying report and interact with it. Which often makes the understanding of the dashboard item, and potentially gives you the ability to action something.

You can find out all about the Mobile Updates here: Power BI Mobile Apps Update – March 2016 & New offline capabilities for Power BI Mobile apps

Power BI – ClickDimensions Content Pack

This week there is yet another content pack, and on this occasion it is ClickDimensions which is email marketing and marketing automation for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

This is a great way to interact with your data and see how successful your email marketing campaigns where.

You can find out about the content pack here: Explore your ClickDimensions data with Power BI

Excel 2016 – Power Pivot Update

It is great to see that once again Power Pivot in Excel 2016 is getting some attention.

I think that it is great to be able to save the diagram view as a picture as often that is a really easy way to visually show the mapping of your tables, and ideally if it has been built with best practice in mind, showing the star schema.

Also the enhanced edit relationship makes it a lot easier and quicker to create relationships.

You can find details here: New feature updates for Power Pivot in Excel 2016

SharePoint 2016 – RTM

It seems in my mind that the release of SharePoint 2016 has not got the publicity that I imagined or thought that it would receive.

But it is great to see that it has been finally released and I have no doubt that soon I will see some blog posts about the new capabilities.

You can read about the release here: SharePoint 2016 RTM and the Future of SharePoint event

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Enterprise Gateway Update, Desktop Update, Mobile App Update, Dynamics AX 7 Content Pack, Azure Security Center Content Pack, New Visuals) – SQL 2016 (Hear from the Engineers) – Excel 2016 (Funnel Chart)

There has been a lot of updates that have happened this past week. Loads of goodness especially in Power BI, so read all the details below.

Power BI – Enterprise Gateway

There has been an updated release for the Enterprise Gateway for Power BI. And I have to say that this has come leaps and bounds in a very short space of time.

And today to my great delight it was so great to see how simple it really is to use.

As with the above screenshot I had created my reports using Power BI Desktop, and then was using the Personal Gateway to update the data. But because it was coming from a SQL Server I initially could not use the Enterprise Gateway.

With the latest releases you can now use the Enterprise Gateway to also use the scheduled refresh for SQL Server sources, amounts many additional sources. So all I did was go into my dataset, then look under the Gateway connection and it had the option to select which gateway I wanted to use.

So simple and yet so powerful at the same time. I had to make no change to my report or connections. That is really amazing.

It is also great to see that it does this for Web URL’s, Files and Folders on Premise also

You can read about it all here: Power BI Gateway – February Update

Power BI – Desktop Update for February

This is a massive Power BI Desktop Update, and as I have done in the past I am going to highlight what I feel is really great.

The first thing to highlight is the ability to see the data behind the visual. To me this is amazing to now have this as part of the Power BI Desktop and part of the report. The reason being is that I have thought that Power BI is an amazing visual application. But where it was at times lacking was what functionality and ability that you had using Excel. Where you could get the visuals but also if required to see the underlying data.

Now with this new update, it begins to open the door to make this happen.

Next is the new KPI that they have created. This is very similar to some of the other KPI visuals, but the thing that I like about this is that from the get go, a lot of people have been asking for KPIs, and often sighting that it was something that was missing from the product. With the ability to navigate folders and all the properties of the KPI I think this is a welcome addition.

The above image is not the best, but if you can squint your eyes you can see that there now is the ability to create your Own Hierarchy in your Power BI model. This is really great, because sometimes for certain reasons (Getting data from the Web, or CSV Files) you did not have the hierarchy that you needed. Now you can do it quickly and easily.

There are a whole host of updates, as well as connectors, additional content packs etc. in this release.

If you want to read up all about the updates here is the link: Power BI Update: Lots of new authoring features and a new Power BI Desktop update

Power BI – Mobile App Update

There have been some additional updates once again to the Power BI Mobile App, and it is great to see that they have continued to add the functionality to the additional platforms. Whilst mostly on Windows 10, I have no doubt that it will be added to the other platforms if not there already.

You can read up about it here: Power BI Mobile Apps Update – February 2016

Power BI – Dynamics AX 7 Content Pack

Once again another content pack, this time it is the Dynamics AX Content pack. Which delivers some great insights into your AX data.

They have created to content packs, one for Financial Performance and another for Retail. It is great to see these out of the box style reports, which will help a lot of organizations using AX 7.

You can find out more details here: Explore your Microsoft Dynamics AX data with Power BI

Power BI – Azure Security Center Content Pack

The content pack guys must have been really busy in the past because this is the 3rd content pack release this week. And this time it is to do with the Azure Security Center data.

This gives you the ability to be able to analyze your security for all your Azure resources. And be able to trend and see what is happening over time.

You can read more information about it here: Analyze your Azure Security Center data with Power BI

Power BI – New Visuals


The above two visuals are the Long Text Viewer and Image Viewer respectively.

And the Long Text viewer just gives you the ability to be able to put a whole stack of text into your Power BI report. Which is sometimes required.

The Image viewer is a simple data bound image. So that you can use it to simply show images based on your selection.

You can view them in the visuals gallery: Welcome to Power BI custom visuals

SQL 2016 – Data Driven Event – Hear from the Engineers

As you can see from above there is the Data Driven event happening where you will have the ability to hear from the Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and their customers on how data insights are ensuring that their business is ahead of their competitors.

You will also have the ability to listen and understand first hand from the Microsoft Engineers that helped build the product.

You can find out and register with more details here: Data Driven

Excel 2016 – Funnel Chart

It appears that this one slipped through the cracks. With all the focus on Power BI and SQL Server 2016, there was an update to Excel. And they now have a new visual for the Funnel. Whilst this has been in SSRS and even more recently in Power BI, it is great to see that it is now in Excel.

You can find out about this updates and other updates here: February Office 365 updates

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Mobile App Update, Waffle Chart Visual, Alpine Metrics Content Pack, KPI Indicator Visual Explained) – SQL Server 2016 (Hear from the Engineers, Virtual Lab, KPI Data Refresh) – Excel 2016 (New Functions, Power Query Update)

There has been a lot happening in the BI space over the past week. Loads of things to read about and review and see how this can be integrated and used.

So without any further delay let’s get into the details.

Power BI – Mobile App Update

They have made some great improvements to the Mobile App, currently only for Windows 10 and iPhone. I have no doubt that the Android version will be updating soon enough.

What this update allows you to do is to open up the reports from the dashboard view. I do think that this is something that has been lacking. As often you want more details or to understand why the value is up or down. And by having this capability it means that now the information is literally at your fingertips.

You can find out the details here: Power BI Mobile Apps – Open your reports on your phone

Power BI – Waffle Chart

I honestly just am amazed at how they keep on creating ever better and more intuitive visuals. I personally have never used the Pie Chart, because it does not give the end user the right information. Now there is another option to use the Waffle chart, which can give you some context to show the comparison.

You can find out all the details here: Visual Awesomeness Unlocked – Waffle Chart

Power BI – Alpine Metrics Content Pack

Yet another great content pack if you are a customer of Alpine Metrics. And it does appear that they are using Cortana Analytics to enrich their data and get their predictions as close as possible. Which is really amazing to see?

To be honest who would not want to get a prediction on their information that they can use to possibly increase their sales.

You can find more information here: Predict Sales With Alpine Metrics Data and Power BI

Power BI – KPI Indicator Visual Explained

It is great to see that the creating of this amazing KPI Indicator has created a blog post to explain exactly how to use all the features and configurations that are part of his awesome visual.

To be honest I did quickly look at in the past, and I did not spend enough time looking at all the configurations and thought that there was quite a lot going on, and not a lot of information around who exactly to get the configuration you desire.

Now with the blog post from Fredrik below, you can understand how to configure it to get your required outcome.

You can read up about Fredrik’s blog post here: KPI Indicator custom visual for Power BI explained

SQL Server 2016 – Hear from the Engineers

What this event is, is where you can now hear from the engineers at Microsoft and see what and how they have achieved the great improvements and new additions in SQL Server 2016.

There is not a lot of details but it does look like we can get some great insights in the Hybrid BI area.

You can find out all the information and register with the blog post below.

Your invitation to be among the first to hear from SQL Server 2016 engineers

SQL Server 2016 – Virtual Labs

It is great to see that there is now a virtual lab that you can use and test using SQL Server 2016 SSRS for Mobile. This gives you a quick and easy way to test and see how you can leverage SQL Server 2016 to create amazing mobile reports.

I do think that this is a great start to learning and getting your hands into the technology. As well as not having to install or configure anything.

You can find out about how to use the Virtual Labs here: Try SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services with new TechNet Virtual Labs

SQL Server 2016- KPI Data Refresh

This is a great blog post from Patrick where he explains very easily how to enable your KPI to be refreshed on a schedule.

You can find the details here: Refreshing KPI Data in SSRS 2016

Excel 2016 – New Functions

It is great to see that they are expanding Excel with new functions, which makes it even easier to get the data in a format that you require to gain the best insights.

I do think that the Concatenate, TextJoin, IFS and Switch functions will make it a lot easier. And I have no doubt that going forward there will be more functions coming from the Office Excel team.

You can find the details here: 6 new Excel functions that simplify your formula editing experience

Excel – Power Query Update

It is great to see that Power Query for Excel is getting an update. I do feel that a lot of the effort and time for Power Query has gone into the Power BI Desktop version.

You can download it from here: Microsoft Power Query for Excel

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Developers – Opening up the Content Packs, Weekly Service Update,Visual Scroller) – SharePoint 2016 (White Paper) – Excel 2016 (Use Excel like a Boss)

It has been a crazy last few months from the Microsoft BI stream, and finally as the year winds down they appear to also be looking to take a much needed break.

So this week’s BI-NSIGHT is short and sweet.

Power BI – Developers details

It was great to see how Microsoft have embraced not only the end users for Power BI, but also started adding a whole host of additional features and information for the Power BI Developers.

One thing that caught my attention in their blog post was the following: Over time, we intend to fully open this Developer experience up so that anyone can build Content Packs and submit them to us for publishing to the gallery.

I think that just as they did with the Visuals, by opening or creating a framework, this will allow a lot of additional companies and users the ability to be able to submit content packs to be part of Power BI. And this can only then lead to having more sources, which in turn means a greater possibility for there to be a content pack in the future that you can simply click and have all your data there ready to use.

I look forward to see what they can bring to the table going forward.

You can find more details here: Power BI for Developers: A look back at our Developer & ISV ecosystem efforts this year

Power BI – Weekly Service Update

Power BI Update

I was a bit late in terms of getting my blog post out, but at least I can include the latest Power BI weekly service update details.

One of the things that I really enjoy with the weekly service updates, is that very often what the Power BI team is putting into the Service, does filter down into the Power BI Desktop.

So this week there are some great new additions.

The pinning of your entire report as a dashboard is fantastic. As I often found that the dashboard tiles, whilst it is very good often meant that you could not fit in all the information that you want to see. This does not mean that you should overcrowd the dashboard. But at least you can put in meaningful information.

As well as now having the ability to manually refresh the tiles is great. As I was actually having this problem last week.

For both using the Images as slicers and the Visual Interactions, this has been mentioned before and it does make it a lot easier to create your reports and filters so that they have more functionality.

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

Power BI – Visual Scroller

Once again the quality of new Visuals that are coming and being released in the Power BI Visuals amazes me.

And this visual is once again a really elegant design, but at the same time it is really powerful.

I can see a lot of organizations or companies using this going forward. It takes up a small amount of screen real estate but it can show so much meaningful information that scrolls through.

You can find it in the Power BI Visuals Gallery here: Power BI Visuals Gallery

SharePoint 2016 – Whitepaper

With both SQL Server 2016 and SharePoint 2016 around the corner it is great to see that they have released a white paper.

Specifically, it details the information around how using Excel within SharePoint will be handled and implemented in SharePoint 2016. Which also relates to the Power Pivot Add-in.

I have downloaded the paper and I have no doubt that there will be a wealth of other information that will be within the white paper. I always find the white papers a really interesting read and often find out some really great details.

You can use the following link to find the blog post: White Paper Published: Deploying SQL Server 2016 PowerPivot and Power View in SharePoint 2016

You can download the White Paper here: Deploying SQL Server 2016 PowerPivot and Power View in SharePoint 2016

Excel 2016 – Use Excel like a Boss

There is a great blog post by the Office team.

It show cases how easy it is to use the Business Analysis features directly out of Excel when you start up Excel.

From each of the sections, you can see the Cash Flow, Stock Analysis and Calendar Analysis.

This just is another great feature that can be used to analyse your business.

You can read about all the details here: Use Excel 2016 like a boss

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

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

BI-NSIGHT – Excel 2016 Waterfall Charts – Datazen Updates – Power BI Content Packs (SQL Sentry, Circuit ID) – Power BI Distribution Groups

These past two weeks there has been a massive amount of news and reviews on the updated Power BI Desktop as well as the Power BI Service. I have been reading quite a lot and found some people doing some really amazing things. I honestly feel that Power BI is going from strength to strength.

Excel 2016 – Waterfall Charts

I recently read up about a blog post from Microsoft about the Waterfall chart in Excel 2016.

As you can see from the above picture they have put in a lot of work to get this working. Not only that but also the ability to be able to customize the colors, so that you can see from the above when you have an Income, a Loss / expenditure and Totals. And it does this in a very visual and simple manner.

Meaning that the person viewing the report will quickly be able to have a view and see what money is being spent where from their balance sheet.

The blog post also goes into details explaining how to get to this final chart with an example. I found it really useful and I am sure that I will be using it going forward.

You can read about the Excel 2016 Waterfall chart here: Introducing the Waterfall chart—a deep dive to a more streamlined chart

 

Datazen Updates

Microsoft / Datazen recently updated the Datazen server, which is great because I have to say that I had a similar problem as above when I was evaluating Datazen and using MDX queries. With the new updates it means that the Datazen reports in general will have a much better look and feel due to the fact that you can now customize your Display Names.

The good thing to note is that is not only with SSAS sources but for all other sources also.

Also they have created an application for Windows 7, which I think is really great as I know a lot of people are not yet running Windows 8 or Windows 10 (But that might change a bit with the free upgrade to Windows 10)

I am certain that there are a whole host of other changes that were deployed with the latest Datazen build that are under the hood!

So if you do have an Enterprise version of SQL Server with Software Assurance you can download the latest Datazen build here: Datazen Enterprise Server 3.0.3305

Power BI – Content Pack SQL Sentry

This is yet another great content pack to have at your disposal from Microsoft and Power BI.

I know of a few companies and I am sure that there are many more who all use SQL Sentry on a daily basis. And ideally they would like to get an overview of how their SQL Systems are performing and to potentially highlight SQL Server systems with issues. Likewise, they could also look at SQL Server systems that are performing really well and see if what the differences are?

I also think with the new Power BI changes, you could change the above in terms of colors so that it would highlight potential issues to the report consumer. Just making it easier to highlight problems.

You can read about the SQL Sentry Content pack here: Monitoring your SQL Sentry data with Power BI

Power BI – Content Pack Circuit ID

Another great content pack released is for people and customers who use Circuit ID.

Circuit ID is a cloud communications company and if yourself or your customer uses cloud communication this is a great way to be able to have an overview of how it is being utilized.

You can read about the Circuit ID Content Pack here: Visualize your Circuit ID Data with Power BI

Power BI – Distribution Groups

There has been an update to the Power BI service, which now allows you to share your Dashboards with Distribution groups. As per the blog post, if you have Office 365 email, you will then be able to find your companies email distribution groups.

You can read about the Power BI Distribution Groups here: Easier dashboard sharing with Distribution Groups

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI Designer Refresh – SQL Plugin for Excel – SQL Server 2016 In Memory Tables – Azure SQL Data Warehouse – Office 2016 Update – Power BI Content Pack (UserVoice)

Another week has gone by, so let’s get into what is currently out there and happening in the BI world.

Power BI Designer Refresh

I do know that this came out last week, but I still wanted to comment on this.

Once again this is something that customers and myself have been waiting to be implemented and asked for on the forums.

For me personally this is really fantastic, because it gives me the opportunity to be able to get access to my data, shape it and then create my report interface using Power BI Designer. And through every iteration it is getting better, easier and smarter. And now with the ability to easily upload this into Power BI, and if you are using one of the supported data sources, it is simple as a few clicks in order to get the refresh up and running.

This really makes it easy for the people creating the reports, and with the future releases on the way, I personally see this becoming a valid competitor to the other visualisation tools that are currently out there.

You can read all about it here: Announcing Refresh Support for Power BI Designer files in the Power BI service

SQL Plugin for Excel

I came across this from reading through my twitter feeds.

I have to say that it does look very interesting. It appears that this can be used to pretty much have a SQL like interface when using Excel.

It also does appear that there is the potential to write data from your Excel workbook, back into SQL Server, via temp tables. This might be very handy, because I have had situations in the past where I have wanted to extract some data from a SQL database, in order for the users to make some changes. And then struggled to easily get the updated data back into my database. I could think of a method to be able to do this via the temp tables, and having a process to import the data from the temp tables into my database. Then once I have it in there, it would be easy to update the required changes!

More information here: thingiequery

SQL Server 2016 – In Memory Tables

Last week at the local (SSUG) SQL Server User Group, we were very fortunate to have some of the program managers from the SQL Server team present to us what is coming up in SQL Server 2016.

What I wanted to highlight is something that as far as I can see, so far has not really been highlighted.

It has to do with the In Memory tables in SQL Server 2016, and that Microsoft have almost resolved or allowed almost all of the query syntax is now available against In Memory tables. I do remember when I did try this before on SQL Server 2014 for my data warehousing loads, whilst there was not a big performance improvement, one of the issues was due to the fact, that there was a whole host of query syntax that I could not use.

Now with this almost having been resolved, as well as generally improving the In Memory tables, this is something that I am going to look at implementing where required in my data warehouse loads. Ideally I would imagine where there is a section of work, where it needs to be processed really quickly and having all the tables in memory means that this could potentially have a big performance improvement.

You can read about what is supported in SQL Server 2016 In Memory Tables here: Query Surface Area in Natively Compiled Stored Procedures

Azure SQL Data Warehouse

I am super excited about Microsoft starting to roll out the SQL Data warehouse preview in Azure.

I do think that this is something that is going to be a key driver for businesses to look at Microsoft for their cloud strategy going forward.

In the past few months, or closer on a year now, I have started to really enjoy how Microsoft has changed, and become a really forward thinking company, where they are listening to their customers and where they can taking the customers’ requirements and putting this into their products.

Along with this, especially in the cloud area, they are able to release and update their software at a pace that I have not seen ever. And when comparing it to other cloud vendors it is amazing how quickly they are able to do this. And for me as a consumer of these clouds services, and other services, it makes my work every interesting and keeps me on my toes!

I look forward to testing this out and see how it performs with my own data, when I can get access to it, and see if it lives up to all the hype!

You can read about it here: SQL Data Warehouse

Office 2016 Update

There is now an official blog update from Microsoft with regards to what they have done with Office 2016.

It is great to see what they showcased at Ignite to already be available for people to look at and test.

You can read more about it here: Office 2016 Preview—update 2

Power BI Content Pack – UserVoice

I am pretty certain that Microsoft is releasing a new content pack every week. When I log in and view what new blog posts are out there almost every week without fail there is another new content pack. Which is fantastic.

This week the content pack is for an application called UserVoice, which is allows it’s customers to provide feedback on their products. As well as for customers to share their experiences. And it looks like a really easy and simple interface to use. Which at the same time is very powerful.

You can find all the related information here: Monitor and Visualize your UserVoice Data with Power BI