Power BI platform adds new mobile and data readiness capabilities
New data preparation and mobile analytics capabilities highlight Microsoft’s most recent additions to the Power BI platform.
The tech giant delivers new features to Power BI on a weekly basis and publishes a monthly blog post summarizing all the tools added to the platform throughout the month.
Released on February 17, the February roundup includes over 40 new features.
Among them, Dynamic M Query Parameters to support SQL Server has the potential to be particularly useful to users of the Power BI platform, according to Doug Henschen, analyst at Constellation Research.
Dynamic M Query Parameters is a data preparation tool that allows Power BI users to specify query parameters without having to write code.
When first released, however, it only allowed connections to M-based data sources, which are data sources provided directly by Microsoft or those accessed through DirectQuery, such as Amazon Redshift, Snowflake, and Google BigQuery .
Now in preview, Dynamic M Query Parameters can access new data sources through DirectQuery, including SQL-based Microsoft data sources such as SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, and Azure Synapse Analytics, as well as non-Microsoft data sources such as Oracle, Teradata and SAP HANA relational database.
Henschen called extending Dynamic M query parameters to support SQL Server and other data sources that Power BI previously didn’t support “an important update.”
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research
“It was obviously important for Microsoft to support its own products, including SQL Server, Azure SQL Database, and Azure Synapse Analytics, as well as Oracle, Teradata, and SAP HANA,” he continued.
Additionally, the new mobile formatting options are important additions to the Power BI platform, according to Henschen. Also in preview, users can format visuals for their mobile layout and have those formatting changes only affect their mobile view rather than desktop or web views as well.
“The new mobile formatting options are important and long overdue,” Henschen said, noting that major analytics platforms allow users to create reports, dashboards and other assets in one go. once and to provide them in various forms.
But getting these analytics assets to work in all forms, especially on mobile, can be tricky, so adding some easy-to-use formatting options for mobile viewing will be helpful.
“It’s hard to get [the view] suitable for all form factors, so Microsoft has added mobile formatting options to better optimize the mobile viewing experience without compromising the desktop version of the same asset,” Henschen said. “This will help report authors avoid complicated workarounds and redundant versions of assets to best serve desktop and mobile experiences.”
Features developed by partners
In addition to new capabilities developed by the Power BI team, the tech giant added tools developed by Microsoft partner Lumel Technologies to the Power BI platform in February.
Lumel is a startup founded in 2021 and based in Plano, Texas, which designs custom BI and analytics products for its clients.
Using the Power BI SDK and API framework, Lumel has developed Inforiver, an end-to-end performance management and analytics platform for Power BI that is presented as a visual importable custom.
Some of the features included by Inforiver that are now available as part of the Power BI platform include forecasting and what-if for planning, paginated reports, tabular report export to Excel, PDF generation, and a Full audit log of changes to help manage self-service users. .
Adding Inforiver’s capabilities to Power BI is important for two reasons, according to Donald Farmer, founder and director of TreeHive Strategy.
“First, the existence of a powerful and complementary third-party application validates the Power BI SDK/API strategy,” he said. “Without a great SDK and comprehensive APIs, the integration wouldn’t be possible. Second, Inforiver offers a very good no-code implementation of the features that Power BI users have been asking for.”
Farmer, who helped lead Microsoft’s BI team for a 10-year period before leaving for Qlik and then starting his own consulting company, noted that features added through Lumel’s Inforiver are some Microsoft could have had. struggling to create for Power BI.
“With Inforiver, Lumel took Power BI in a direction that Microsoft itself would struggle to achieve,” he said. “There is a quality, consistency and above all agility [with Inforiver] which caught the attention of the community.”
Beyond the new data readiness and mobile preview features, other new tools for the Power BI platform unveiled in February include:
- new connectors for Amazon OpenSearch Service, OpenSearch Project and Digital Construction Works Insights;
- updated connectors to Azure Databricks, BQE Core, MicroStrategy, and Starburst Enterprise;
- sensitivity labels for datasets which, when applied, remain on reports and dashboards created from that dataset;
- default label policies that allow users to set a basic level of protection for existing Power BI files;
- mandatory labeling policies that allow organizations to ensure that sensitivity labels are applied to new Power BI content;
- three new features in Goals, a planning tool introduced in May 2021, including notifications, multiple owners of the same goal, and a My Workspace feature;
- built-in analytics capabilities added;
- a new list of categories for Power BI visuals in AppSource; and
- 14 new visuals in AppSource.
“There are many incremental improvements in this update, but the large number of updates add up to notable improvements around key themes,” Henschen said.
He noted that the three data label features give organizations greater control over sensitive information, while the additions to Goals demonstrate that Microsoft is responding to early feedback.
“There are also a slew of data connector and data visualization updates that are individually incremental, but add up to real progress,” Henschen said.
A missing piece
But while Microsoft continues to add new features to Power BI, and the tech giant’s commitment to the platform ensures it’s among the most comprehensive analytics suites, one area is still missing. key, according to Henschen: Power BI doesn’t match many of its competitors in its support for clouds other than its own Microsoft Azure.
Vendors like MicroStrategy, Qlik, and Tibco that aren’t owned by the cloud giants are cloud agnostic. And even Looker and Tableau, once independent but now subsidiaries of Google and Salesforce, respectively, support multiple clouds.
Power BI, however, lacks this neutrality, according to Henschen.
“The most obvious gap for Power BI compared to independents is multi-cloud support,” he said. “Power BI can certainly leverage on-premises or any cloud data sources, but I haven’t heard anything yet about using Power BI services anywhere other than Azure.”