In July, Microsoft Power BI Desktop made several data-driven updates including a major one – Power BI Embedded. To recap, Power BI is a desktop program you can download and a cloud service that have different and overlapping capabilities for organizations to get the most out of their collected business analytics. Something to be aware of, while Power BI’s desktop software is a powerful tool to have, it’s for Windows-only users – at least for now. The Power BI cloud service on the other hand functions across many platforms. How an organization analyzes their collected data is vital to the success and future of their business. Power BI continues to add features to beef up their tools, especially when it comes to how organizations are monitoring and analyzing their data.

Power BI Embedded

This update will be very useful. What is it? Power BI Embedded is an Azure service that allows application developers to embed interactive reports and visualizations in customer-facing apps without the hassle of building their own controls by using REST APIs and the Power BI SDK. Further, Power BI Embedded allows users to create in-depth reports against application data in Power BI Desktop without writing any code. Pretty convenient! Users can create built-in or custom visuals using data sets from various cloud sources including Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse using DirectQuery to get the latest data. Power BI Embedded allows other built-in data elements to be powered by Power BI Embedded without the need for users to have a Power BI account to use the app. Users can view and benefit from Power BI reporting without additional licensing. Users also don’t have to be customers of the Azure Active Directory. The application will need authorization to render Power BI reports to the Microsoft Power BI Embedded through Application Authentication Tokens (App Tokens). The App Tokens allow you to give permissions from the app to Power BI.


Data classification

For most organizations, you might not want to share all of your dashboards freely. Now, the new dashboard data classification will allow users who are viewing particular dashboards, how sensitive the data is. An organization’s IT department can easily tag dashboards as necessary and link to policy information so users understand how to properly handle the data they are viewing such as revenue trends or customer data. When the tags are enabled, they will show up next to the dashboard name. Dashboard owners have the ability to change the classification type of each dashboard in dashboard settings.

Data Analysis in Excel

As of late, one of the most popular features that have been added to Power BI is the ability to analyze on-premises analysis services (AS) data in Excel. Admins can now control whether or not users can analyze on-premises AS data in Excel in tenant settings. If you choose to keep this default setting enabled, a secure and direct connection will allow users within your organization to analyze on-premises AS data in Excel without a hitch. Users must enable the proper data connections and sign in to the Power BI account that has access to the dataset you want to analyze in Excel. In Analyze with Excel, you can create PivotTables, charts, add data, and create additional worksheets to dive even deeper into your data.

Data Alerts

We all know that analyzing your data is a hot issue these days but you can’t personally monitor your data 24/7. Well, now a new handy Power BI feature will alert you when something important is going on with your metrics. You can set alert notifications whenever certain metrics exceeds certain points. You can also set how often you want to be alerted, either once every hour or every 24 hours. Alert notifications will be sent to your email and will appear in the notification center on your Power BI web and mobile apps. The only stipulation is that the only person who sees the alert notifications, is the one who set them to begin with. These alerts can allow users to act or make important decisions quickly based on the changes in metrics to come up with solutions that will address any negative changes.

Restricting Data Access

Row-level security (RLS) is now available for Power BI Pro users. RLS allows users to restrict data access based on who is viewing it. In addition, users can analyze RLS-enabled data in Excel thanks to the ability to the “analyze in Excel” feature. In addition to this feature being limited to Power BI Pro users, there are other limitations for RLS on cloud models (at least for now).  You can only define RLS on the datasets created using the Power BI Desktop client. Further, if you previously had roles or rules defined within the Power BI service, they will need to be recreated within Power BI Desktop.

Power BI Publish to Web

Power BI publish to web is another feature that was generally released in July which allows customers to embed interactive Power BI visualizations directly to blogs and websites. Once the report is designed using Power BI Desktop you can upload it to and collaborate until it’s fit to publish. Once the report is ready to be published, users can easily copy and paste the URL of the published report into a web page with the latest data being refreshed up to once an hour. A data refresh can be scheduled and automated to your convenience. Power BI publish to web automatically scales reports depending on if you are viewing the report on the web or on a mobile device for easy navigation. This feature allows users to not only tell a story with data from multiple sources, but do so in a very creative and visually-appealing way.

Power BI is constantly rolling out new updates each month as it’s a very feature-rich suite of tools to organize and monitor your business with. Read more about how Power BI can benefit your business and how to build an effective BI dashboard on Aptude’s blog.