Microsoft announces a plethora of Power BI updates at the Business Applications Summit 2020

Today, Microsoft held its Business Applications Summit 2020 virtually - a decision the firm had taken due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. A number of updates for Power BI were announced, with focus primarily residing on "driving a data culture". Microsoft also noted that its Power BI community has now comprises of over one million members.

Some major areas in which Power BI is intended to advance have been identified by the tech giant in order to further its aforementioned objective. An overview of the updates made in accordance with these has been provided as follows:

  • Providing AI infused experiences with the familiarity of Office with PowerPoint for Data, personalized visuals, an updated mobile report authoring experience and more.
  • Meeting the most demanding enterprise BI needs with enterprise semantic models, enterprise reports, application lifecycle management and more.
  • Weaving BI into the fabric of the organization with featured tables for Excel, updated experiences with Microsoft Teams, Common Data Service DirectQuery support and more.

With regards to PowerPoint for Data, a new lasso selection visual has been made available today, with shadow effects arriving later this month, and pre-made page templates making their way further along the year.

As far as artificial intelligence capabilities are concerned, there are no immediate changes to report on. However, improved decomposition trees will be reaching general availability in this month, with Q&A updates slated for later this year. A sneak peek for smart narratives - a feature that enables the addition and modification of dynamic narratives generated automatically - will also be showcased at some point in the future. Further along the same end, personalized visuals are now available in preview, while a more flexible mobile report authoring experience will be released within the next few weeks.

Microsoft has also identified high-profile customers that are choosing to standardize on Power BI, including U.S. telecommunications operator T-Mobile, healthcare organizations like Humana, and an increasing number of government and non-profit organizations, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shared and certified datasets in Enterprise Semantic Models, meanwhile, have entered general availability, alongside a preview of XMLA read/write capabilities. Pro extensibility - a feature that delivers "additional semantic modeling capabilities in the Analysis Services engine" is planned to be released later this year. Paginated report embedding and data lineage view are now also available for all users. As far as Power BI Dataflows are concerned, certified dataflows are now in preview, while the ability to provide authors to connect to dataflows in DirectQuery mode will be introduced later this year as well.

In order to "help weave BI deep into the fabric of the organization", there are a further bunch of updates that have been identified by the firm. With regards to improvements immediately in effect, the Power BI experience in the Teams service has been upgraded, with a new tab and preview links. Later in May, meanwhile, customers will get to utilize new data protection capabilities.

Then, further along the year, curated featured tables in Excel and the ability to connect to the Power BI datasets without leaving the spreadsheet service will be introduced. Finally, users will be getting a sneak peek at the new Power Automate visual capability, and DirectQuery support for the Common Data Service as well.

That wraps up Microsoft's updates to its Power Platform in this year's Business Applications Summit. You can check out our previous coverage of Power BI here, and read more on the current set of additions by reading through the original blog post.

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