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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Microsoft Power BI: The Pace of Rapid Change

Posted by Noah Kluge

Is anyone else out there surprised by the rapid progress that has been made recently with Microsoft Power BI? After all, there have been at least a few times where the Microsoft plan for business intelligence seems to have fizzled.

Early last year, I was certainly not the biggest fan when it came to Power BI. Honestly, at the time, I thought it was a fairly inadequate personal BI tool at best. However, after last summer’s release and then drops to include live connections to on-premise Analysis Services and support for tabular model hierarchies this winter, it’s now go time for Power BI!

Let’s go through just one example. As recent as January 2016, Power BI did not support hierarchies for Tabular models.
Microsoft Power BI Desktop (Old)


Tabular model w/no Hierarchies:

Microsoft Power BI - Tabular Model with no Hierarchies

But now with the February 2016 release it does!

Microsoft Power BI Desktop - Updated

Note: indented values under ‘Account’ are levels in the hierarchy.

Microsoft Power BI - Hierarchy

Not only does this now mean that you can actually include Tabular hierarchies—and not just attributes—on a dashboard, but you can also take advantage of the interaction the charts provide in Power BI. In Screenshot A below, the ‘Audio’ slice is selected and by clicking the double-down arrows, the user can now see the items that make up ‘Audio’ (Screenshot B) within the pie chart.

Screenshot A

Microsoft Power BI - Screenshot A

Once selected, the “revenue by item” pie chart is updated to now include item level details. Because this is based on a tabular model, I select ‘T0005 Television HDTV X59052’ and I can see the specific transactions associated with it.

Screenshot B
Microsoft Power BI - Screenshot B
The 500+ members of the Microsoft Power BI team have more planned including the recently announced Role-based security. In fact, if you want something that’s not currently possible, make sure to visit and vote for an idea that’s what you are looking for or submit your own new idea. These requests are incorporated into the Power BI delivery plan.

In conclusion, if you tried Power BI 6 – 12 months ago and thought it was extremely limited in its capability, I encourage you to give it a try again. You will be surprised (and thrilled) by the advances that have been made!

Learn more in this on-demand webinar from Armanino’s BI experts: The New Power BI: What’s Different and How Your Team Can Gain the Most Benefit


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