Power BI And Excel 2016 BI News

There have been quite a few Power BI and Office BI-related announcements over the last few weeks, and while I’ve tweeted about them (I’m @Technitrain if you’re not following me already) I though it would be a good idea to summarise them all in one post.

Power BI Announcements at Convergence and SQLBits

You’ve probably already seen the announcement today on the Power BI blog that Power BI is FINALLY available to those of us outside the USA:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/powerbi/archive/2015/03/16/power-bi-preview-now-available-worldwide.aspx

At last! I’m sure MS had very good reasons why they couldn’t make the Power BI Preview available worldwide back in December, but this decision caused a lot of frustration in the MS BI community and I hope it’s not something that happens again. I can also confirm that the Power BI iPhone app is now available in the UK as well. The new data sources for Power BI that are coming soon – especially Google Analytics – will be very popular I think.

While I’m on the topic of Power BI, a few interesting nuggets about upcoming functionality emerged at SQLBits last week. Kasper mentioned that there will be some new DAX functions appearing in Power BI soon: Median, Percentile, DateDiff and XPNV. Presumably they will appear when we get the ability to create DAX measures and calculated columns in the Power BI Dashboard Designer. Also, following on from the bidirectional relationships functionality I blogged about earlier this year, there was the news that Power BI will also understand 1:1 relationships as well as 1:many, many:1 and many:many.

Office 2016 Preview BI Features

The Office 2016 preview went public today too:

http://blogs.office.com/2015/03/16/announcing-the-office-2016-it-pro-and-developer-preview/

There’s a great overview of what’s new for BI in Office 2016 here:

https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/Whats-new-in-Office-2016-Preview-4841f061-d019-45cc-af74-3e89c8cff1c4#data

The main points are:

  • Power Query is now a native feature of Excel 2016.
  • Power View works on SSAS Multidimensional (this is only going to work on the versions of SSAS Multidimensional that support DAX queries, ie SSAS 2014 or SSAS 2012 SP2)
  • New Excel forecasting functions
  • Time grouping functionality in PivotTables

I’ll be writing a more detailed blog on all of this at some point soon, once I know what’s officially public and what isn’t.

The Power Query announcement is interesting because, as things stand at the moment, we’ll be able to use full Power Query, Power Pivot and Power View functionality for free in the Power BI Dashboard Designer, but in Excel the same functionality is restricted to users of the Professional Plus SKUs. This is crazy, and I hope Microsoft makes the Power add-ins available for every SKU of Excel 2016. Have you signed the petition for this yet?

Power Map

Last week the Power Map team released a new video showcasing functionality from an upcoming release:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP-vZfC3Fd4&feature=youtu.be

Although there are no details about what is shown in the video, it certainly looks like the ability to use custom shapes (the main missing feature in Power Map up to now) will be coming soon.

PowerMap

Wow, psychedelic…

Surface Hub

Finally, BI is clearly one of the main use-cases of the new Surface Hub (see also this video):

SufaceHubPowerBI_small

I wonder if I can justify buying one for demo purposes?

15 thoughts on “Power BI And Excel 2016 BI News

  1. What does it mean “Multidimensional SSAS that support DAX queries”? Is new version of MD SSAS (aka SQL Server 2016)?

  2. The PowerMap stuff is interesting. Custom polygons are very, very important to us. I guess it must be using WellKnownText to describe the polygons. I’d have though that works very badly indeed with the Excel Data Model (very verbose, huge cardinality etc). But what do I know? Can’t wait to give it a go!

  3. Here’s a big one for PowerPivot:

    “Rename tables, columns and measures in Power Pivot and adjustments of PivotTables
    Now you can rename tables, columns and calculated fields/measures within the Power Pivot add-in and take advantage of PivotTables being seamlessly adjusted to the new names in the Data Model.”

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