Bo is a Principal Consultant for ThreeWill. He has 18 years of full lifecycle software development experience.
Danny: Hello and welcome everyone. This is Danny Ryan from ThreeWill. I welcome you to today’s webinar. We’re going to be focusing in on getting you up to speed on Microsoft Power BI. I’ve got a guest here with me, Bo George. Bo, thanks for joining me.
Bo: Thanks for having me.
Danny: You bet you. What we wanted to do was Bo, about a month or so ago, he had written a blog to prepare for this. It was on the top 10 reasons you need Power BI. What we wanted to do for this webinar was to go through what those top 10 reasons are and just use that as a way to get you up to speed. I also wanted to point out that he also did a nice Power BI primer too, so if you wanted to get up to speed on Power BI as well, he’s got a nice article out on our blog as well to get up to speed on Power BI. With that, let’s go ahead and get started. Just real quickly, Bo focuses in on BI for us. He’s a principal consultant. If you ever had the opportunity to work with him, he’s a great team player. Love working with him. He’s in the great state of Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, isn’t that right, Bo?
Bo: Yeah, that’s the first Columbus that everybody thinks of.
Danny: No, he’s in the other Columbus. He’s in Columbus, Georgia. Thanks for joining remotely. Let’s go ahead and get started.
Bo: Okay. All right, when I put up together that blog post, we do a lot of top 10 things, that’s a good way to organize. It was right about the time that David Letterman was retiring. I thought I’ll take a funny slant on my top 10 list and go outrageous with the topics but then talk serious about the content. In honor of David Letterman’s departure, that’s my top 10 list.
Bo: Number 10, the number 10 reason that you would need Power BI is because your corporate upgrade from Office 95 is behind schedule. Hopefully nobody on the webinar really is in that situation, but that’s where I’m starting. When I first want to talk about with that is with Power BI preview, which is one of the products or one of the technologies in the stack, there is also a Power BI designer free download. If you aren’t on the latest version of Excel, you can download that designer tool. It’s specifically designed just for Power BI.
With it being focused purely on Power BI, it’s a clean experience, maybe a little cleaner than Excel, and still has quite a bit of power. It does only work with Power BI preview and not Microsoft 365 Power BI sites. You can pull data as I’m showing on the screen from just about anywhere as you’ll see that theme throughout. Everything from Excel to different databases, SQL databases to Azure, on and on. The list of databases is huge there. It does align with that Power BI preview experience. It’s a clean UI. Even if you are on the latest and greatest Office versions, it’s still a tool that you can download and maybe use to do specific Power BI stuff. It’s not just if you’re on an old version. Certainly I used it. I’m on the latest and greatest. That’s Power BI preview.
Then on the next screen I show a little bit more the prettiness in there. You start by getting data which I had on the other slide. Once you get that data in, you get in shape it. By shape it that might mean removing columns from your data or renaming them or doing calculations, creating a hierarchy. If you notice up at the top you got this manage, and it looks like a series of related tables up there. You can relate multiple queries to each other.
Danny: I can do Vanna White if you want me to, Bo.
Bo: Sweet. As long as it won’t get us in trouble with John Underwood from moving the mouse too much. I always think about him telling not to move it.
Danny: Don’t too much, okay.
Bo: Yeah, it was his thing. You can manage your hierarchies. Then once you’re in here, once you’ve shaped your data and loaded it into your model, you can do your visualizations. Over there on the right where your cursor is is a data source. You’ve got your measures and your facts for my BI people, which are your things you might want to filter on, your X and Y axis, then the actual data points you want to pull up. You just drag them and drop them and pick your visualization that you’re going to show. You get stuff that looks like what you see here. Really easy tool to use. It’s all contingent on having a good data model, but really easy to use. You’ll see that throughout all of the tools I talk about today that they’re really pretty easy to use once you have your data.
All right, number 9. I thought this was pretty funny. Haven’t taken a vacation in 27 years because no one else can create the sales report. My thought there is a lot of people are your data guys. With your Power BI, Microsoft is really pushing self service. I think they deliver on the lot of that. One of the first places that you’ll see that is the screenshot I’m showing here, which is a few actual screenshots from Excel with one of the first add-ins. It doesn’t come with your Excel out of the box, but it’s a free download to add in Power Query. If you’re in Excel and you can download this and turn it on, then you get some really cool features starting with, you get all the normal data sources like I showed back on Power BI designer with SQL and all that sort of stuff, Excel and so on.
Then you also get this data catalog. Data catalog is pretty awesome. First thing you’ll notice the over on the left is that there’s 2 aspects to a data catalog within Microsoft 365. You’ve got a public version, and you can really think of that as the version that Microsoft owns and maintains for everybody. They go out to the web, they look at census data. You’ll notice there’s wiki links there. On Wikipedia there’s tables on stuff. They cull and manage all that stuff. All you got to do is go type a simple search and get back publicly available data that you might want to merge with your own. Then you can use it.
You can have an organizational data catalog too. As I create workbook queries and I decide, hey, it took me a little time to shape this thing together and I just want to share it with people, I could actually publish it. Over on the right I had 9 different queries. It starts from the top. That first one was a public data catalog search. Then the next one after that, uh-oh, going laser pointer.
Danny: Oh, look at that.
Bo: Yeah. Then the next one represents it, it’s an Excel data file, but it could have been any on-premise SQL, whatever sort of data source. I’ve got data sources coming from the public and from my internal. That third thing is actually where I merged the two together. Maybe my common key between the two is a stock symbol or something, a ticker. You can do that, you merge them together, and then you get to your data model. Once you’ve created your query, you load it to PowerPivot, which is what Danny is showing now. Here in the data model, you can actually your establish relationships between all those queries too. In the middle that S&P 500 came from the public web. Then I decided the sector and sub-industry there at the bottom actually represented a hierarchy of parent and child relationships. Then I related one of my Excel data sources to a key in that public data source and defined my data modeling.
The other really key thing to pay attention to in PowerPivot I feel like is that when you get to sharing files later, loading the data from your power queries into PowerPivot as opposed to in Excel is a really key thing to keep your workbook size down, to play nicely with Power BI online, and to get really good compression. I’ll talk about that a little bit later. PowerPivot is your modeling tool. This might be the data stewarding your organization modeling this stuff for you or just about anybody. The tools really are pretty flexible and you can do as much or as little as you want there.
Danny: Hadoop, there it is.
Bo: Yeah, I think this shows my age a little bit, going back to that song. I can just see management walking around saying, “Hadoop, there it is.” That’s number 8. That really is my way of speaking to just the crazy number of data sources that Microsoft is making available within all the toolsets. This image I have here I think I pulled from the Power BI website. Just to give you an idea, you’ve got everything from the normal database stuff down at the bottom, mySQL even, [imdb 10:36] too, Hadoop over there, HDFS, [post-gres 10:41] Then you’ve got HD insight, which is Hadoop and Azure, Azure SQL, Exchange. Then you’ve got analysis services for use that have already invested in, Power BI. Even cool stuff like your sales force objects up there. Your email is using SendGrid, which is an Azure emailing system, all kinds of stuff.
GitHub is a cool one that when I was doing some learning early on with this that there was an example out there where you basically point to the GitHub repository inside of Microsoft Power BI preview. The cool stuff like GitHub is not only would it give you a data source, your rows and columns, but it actually came with some premade reports and dashboards just like connecting to the repository. You would see check-ins, check-outs, contributors, all of that cool stuff Coming from GitHub for you. You almost had a leg up by picking a data source like GitHub. Lots and lots of data sources. You’ll see them throughout all the products from Excel to Power BI online to the Power BI designer and stuff.
The last thing I wanted to say on this slide before we go is, sorry Danny. The other thing people think about is I got all my data on premise. For on-premise data, if you are in Microsoft 365 in the cloud, they do support that. There’s a thing called a data management gateway. Your on-premise data, you install a piece of software on there. You register that gateway with the data management gateway service in the cloud, specify a protocol like HTTPS and all that sort of stuff. Then your on-premise data is available in the cloud. It’s not just cloud data sources either.
Number 7, email inboxes referred to as my reports repository. This isn’t just a Power BI thing, but I think we’ve all been guilty of this in the past. I think we’re all getting better. People email around files all the time. When it’s a report, it typically is bigger, it’s sometimes more volatile, it’s got information where you want it to be the single source of the truth. Don’t email around files. In Microsoft 365, it’s really all about sharing files. That’s how we do things at [three wheel 13:20] It plays into other products like Delve and OneDrive for business where your shares help provide you more information about things you’re interested or just going back to things that were shared with you and so on.
With Power BI, sharing of course is built into that from the get-go. What you get with the actual Power BI app, which is what Danny is showing here, is you just add this app to any old SharePoint site. When you do, you go to the app and it’ll roll up all your Excel files and allow you to feature them and create little thumbnail images for them so you can decide which Excel documents in your site are worthy of being featured on your Power BI site. You get this nice, I won’t call it a dashboard, but this nice layout to more easily see what’s in an Excel file and launch it.
The little stars on them, in addition to sharing a particular file with somebody or this entire Power BI app, you could also favorite it. Favorites are a pretty cool way to bookmark it or just be able to get back to it later. We all go through lots and lots of site collections. You may not remember which site something was on. Favoriting it is a cool way to remember it. I’ll show that on the next slide as well. Once you’ve favorited it, what you also have in Power BI up there in the left on the waffle I guess is what it’s called or the app launcher or the hamburger that’s cut all the ways, whatever that thing is called.
Danny: I think it’s called, waffle is what I’ve heard. Go with waffle.
Bo: Yeah, waffle is the way it’s termed. I’m sure waffle house is happy. What you get in that waffle is a Power BI app. The Power BI app takes you here to my Power BI, which is the personalized version. The things that are showing on this page are all my favorited Power BI or really Excel documents that are rolled up into a central place for me. These might be in site collections all over the place. I can get to them easily here. Over on the right-hand side I’ve also got Power BI sites that I favorited, the ones that I want to go back to. It’s even showing numbers for featured and favorited and stuff like that there. Down below that is a little bit of the discovery aspect. It’s showing me the popular Power BI sites, things where action is going on. Maybe I’ve got access and I want to go see what’s there. I can get to it pretty easily from my Power BI, which is nice.
One thing I’ve skipped over on the previous slide, if you could go back to that one Danny, is down here at the bottom, I’ll hit on this a little bit more later but there’s featured questions. With Power BI, both in Power BI technical preview and Power BI for Microsoft 365, you can ask questions of the data within a report. Maybe there’s not even a chart or a graph for something. You can just go click on ask Power BI up in the top right and you will launch to a little text box where you can start asking a question of a particular workbook and getting back results and stuff like that. It’s a pretty cool thing. I like it a lot and I’ll talk a lot more about it a little bit later on. That’s another thing which is your featured questions and stuff like that.
Danny: Bo, just as a newbie question, is Power BI like an add-on for your Microsoft 365 instance? What is it?
Bo: It is. I had a lot of questions about the licensing with it. The prices you keep hearing vary and all that sort of stuff. It is a per-sync add-on to Microsoft 365. I’ve heard people say with [inaudible 18:00] equal that they got it free or something. I can’t confirm or deny that. I think right now it’s $10 per add-on. It gives you stuff like the site we’re seeing here now. If you didn’t have a Power BI license you wouldn’t be able to access this app. You might be able to access the Excel documents directly in the document library underneath it. As I’ll show a little bit later, there will be some behavior differences depending on if you’re licensed or not and stuff like that.
Danny: You might only get a subset of your organization might get Power BI too, only certain people.
Bo: Yeah, certainly you can decide who it matters for.
Danny: Okay, great. If other people have questions as we’re going to this, I didn’t go through this in the beginning. Feel free to ask questions through the go to webinar app and we’ll queue them up here for the end if you do have something we want to focus in on.
Bo: While were on this, before I move on to the next one too …
Danny: Oh, gosh. I went so, I was almost there.
Bo: Up at the top there’s a link that says favorites and data. I just wanted to point out that favorites are the things that I favorited. Data, this is cool. Way back earlier, maybe 2, 3 slides ago we talked about Power Query. That’s one thing that will show up in Power Query. When I publish my power queries to Microsoft 365, if I click on the data tab, I’ll actually get a couple of cool things. I’ll get some statistics about how often it’s used or how many people have searched and found it, things like that using the catalog search. Then I can just see my power queries that I’ve published or those that others have published, some cool stuff like that as well as data sources I’ve used that are inside of those power queries. That gives you a little bit more insight to the data that you’re sharing.
Danny: I’m not going to go to the next slide until you tell me to.
Bo: I’m ready. I’m ready now.
Bo: All right. Number 6, Excel spreadsheet is so big, people just call it big Mama. I immediately had Martin Lawrence’s picture in my head when I wrote this. It goes back to not emailing around big spreadsheets. To the point you asked about before with licensing, that will come into play too. My next slide, you can move on to it and I’ll talk to it. Unfortunately it’s not like a pretty picture like some of the others. When I was doing some research I really liked this grid because it described the behaviors based on if you have a license for Power BI or [knick knock 20:52] and what to expect and things like that.
There’s a few thresholds you’ll notice in here. The 0 to 10 MB thing, if it’s a 10 MB or smaller file, you can upload it into SharePoint. If you don’t have Power BI you can still launch that file in the office Web apps, solution Excel services and so on. That would just be navigating to it in a document library, clicking a file, opening it. You see it in Excel online. If you get past a 10 MB file, and you’re in SharePoint online and you click it and you’re don’t have Power BI, you might actually get the prompt that says hey, you need to download this thing because it’s too big to show online. That’s your first place where if you’re not licensed it will be a behavior difference for a Power BI user versus not.
Then the other thing to think about is how much of that 10 MB file is in a data model or not. By that it will affect the behavior as well. With Power BI, what you really want is all your data in the data model. That’s because PowerPivot has really awesome compression algorithms. I came across an example online where it was like 92% compression. I saw similar behavior where I had 2 50 MB files. I was able to pull those into my data model, and my total workbook size was like 5 MB. Not even all of that was workbook. It was the data model inside of the workbook. What that means is despite having 100 MB of source data, I was really still well within just the minimum 10 MB file size. It would open up in Excel services just fine. Then if I did exceed that, because I had a Power BI license, you can go all the way up to a 250 MB workbook size. This is an awesome chart for understanding the different behaviors you’ll get, because they can confuse people quite a bit.
Danny: No need to memorize that URL. Next week you guys, everybody who’s registered for the webinar, will get a follow-up email that will have a link to download the presentation. You can grab the URL at that point in time.
Bo: Cool. Number 5, everyone keeps telling you how much cooler the charts on the Fitbit site are than yours. This one just goes back to as a Fitbit user, when I first started using their software, I was really impressed with their graphs and charts and things like that. They were simple, they were clean, but they communicated data. I think it also speaks to how we as consumers are driving enterprise software. We always want the new cool things that we’re using on our phones or just on the public web to roll down into the enterprise.
I think with the Power BI products that is really the case. This picture that I’m showing here is one from a Microsoft example that shows power map, which is another visualization that you have available. What it’s showing, it’s showing quite a bit. It’s got a bar chart that is based on geography combined with a heat map all superimposed over Florida. You got a lot of information communicated in a really small space. It’s just one example of a really cool visualization that’s out there and available. The number of visualizations out there, I don’t think I’ve counted them. It’s all your standard fare, like the different types of charts, a bar chart, a line chart, pie charts and so on. Then you’ve got stuff like a scatter chart and a bubble chart and line charts, then of course the power map and bubble charts actually for some reason has been one of my favorites.
For anybody that doesn’t much with Power BI and TED talks, there’s a TED talk, it’s got to be 4, 5 years old now from Hans Rosling. It was showing developing countries and their health versus wealth over time. It used a bubble chart. Imagine going up, you have maybe health, and then going to the right on the bottom you have wealth. Below that is a little play button that’s got from 1960 to 2000. Visually you could see how a bubble grew and shrank in size and moved up and down on the X and Y axis over time by clicking the play button. Not only do you have a static, but you have an interactive chart where you click a button and it just moves. You gain a lot of insight through stuff like that. That feature is built right into power view as well if you have a time dimension to your data that can be a [play 26:20] access so that you can see anything as it changes over time.
Danny: Is that what this is down here?
Bo: This one might be, yeah. I think it might be. It doesn’t show the dates, but that’s how it looks. It’s got that play button there, and then you can move it right across. In this case it might show lines growing and shrinking over time.
Danny: This one in particular, this data, is this coming from one of those public data sources, or do you know where this is coming from?
Bo: I think this is, where I found it online was all a part of the examples that they had. I think it’s probably not public data. Some of it certainly could come from public data. Lots of those data sources out there do have this sort of information.
Danny: Got you.
Bo: The other stuff that you have in terms of visualizations are you’ve got matrixes. If you have repeating data and maybe you want repeating charts, you can use matrixes or cards to repeat that. I’ve seen that with the medal count. You might have each state’s flag and then the number of medals and things like that. Not only do you just have a single chart but you might have a repeating chart horizontally or vertically that’s grouped together too. I mentioned the flag, and power view does stuff like that too where you can actually pull an image and relate it to some data too so that visually you have, maybe it’s a product. Then you have statistics for a product so you could show a picture of your product alongside your charts for it and stuff like that. There’s one other thing that’s been around for quite a while. You can put that on a chart and use it to filter your data with a click of a button. It’s another visualization technique. I think that’s all I got on that one.
Number 4, the support center is really into NASCAR. With Power BI or with charting and reporting in general, a lot of times you think of it as a poll mentality. I’ve got a chart or I’ve got a graph and it’s showing, then I know, hey, it’s not going to poll any new data until the nightly refresh or the hourly refresh or the weekly refresh or something like that. You get into that mentality, and that’s all well and good because I think that’s standard for most things. You want to wait until a certain period to poll in fresh data.
One thing along the way that I came across was a presentation or a demo from Emir Netz that I thought was really awesome and it struck the developer chord me, which was, hey, I can program this stuff. Not only using tools, but there is a REST API for Power BI available. Any applications out there can actually instead of writing data to a database and then letting somebody come and query the database later and show it in a chart, it can flip it. They can push data from their applications directly into Power BI using stuff like Azure AD and it uses [oh-off 30:01] 2.0 to push stuff into Power BI, which I think is awesome.
Emir’s presentation here, which I just took a screenshot of his actual YouTube video, and I have the link down below for somebody that wants to see Emir get really really excited, it’s a great video to watch. I forget what conference it was at. Basically he had an interactive session with the audience where there were sound sensors out in the audience. Half of the audience said the word see and the other half said [hops 30:37]. That data fed back in from those sensors into an Azure event hub. The Azure event hub then used Azure stream analytics to push it across to Power BI. Those little charts at the top of his screen there were actually updating real-time as people chanted each side of it. It was one side versus the other.
I just think the ability to push data into Power BI, Power BI preview is really super powerful for applications. I could just imagine that’s why I went back to support center. That’s the type of audience I could see sitting there actually watching gauges real time to get a heartbeat on anything. Servers, transactions, all of that sort of stuff that you don’t want to wait even a minute on or something like that. All that is possible in Power BI as well. This is my …
Danny: You’re not making fun of marketing, are you? Come on.
Bo: Yeah, I figured you would like that, Danny. The marketing team just got their iPads and they immediately through their desktop out the window. I actually think this one’s maybe not that far from the truth. People today are all about their devices. We’re all mobile. It’s got to work on iPad. I don’t know how many things, how many people I’ve talked to saying we really want it to work on an iPad, which usually isn’t too bad. Then an iPhone and a mobile phone. The awesome thing with Power BI for Microsoft 365, which is the add-in to SharePoint, is that it will render out HTML 5.
The weird thing is if you’re accessing it in a desktop app and you’re in Internet Explorer, you’re probably going to see Silverlight. When you go to your Power BI site or you open up an Excel file from there, you’ll probably see it right now render in Silverlight. Then down in the bottom right-hand side you can actually change it to HTML 5 if you are in the browser. If you happen to hit that same site and you are not on Internet Explorer on a desktop, you’re on an Android phone or something like that, then you’ll actually get to see the HTML 5 version interact with it in that way by default. Very cool that HTML 5 has embraced I think getting away from ActiveX controls, Silverlight, and all that is certainly good.
The thing that you’re showing here, I think we’ve all seen this from Microsoft over the last year at least is that they are not afraid to develop apps for other platforms now. Of course with Power BI there’s going to be the Windows app for your surface. With Power BI preview, there is the iOS app as well. You can go to PowerBI.com and download the app or go to the app store, connect it to your Power BI preview site, and see your charts there interacting with them with touch gestures as it suggests. On the left was a screenshot of an iPad from their site. On the right was if you’re on an iPhone you can interact with it as well. I think it’s a testament to Microsoft really pushing apps for other platforms out there. Maybe they’ll have one for Android pretty soon. I haven’t found out for sure if they do. Even if they don’t, accessing it through the browser is actually pretty decent.
I have a screenshot actually that I took from my phone as the next screenshot. This is just my phone on Chrome. I accessed my development Microsoft 365 site where I had an Excel document and opened it up. This one, had I been in IE on my desktop would have first rendered in Silverlight, but now it’s strictly HTML 5 on my phone. That’s really not necessarily just the Power BI only thing, it’s Office web apps. Going back to those size constraints and all that sort of stuff, that’s where you start to get more mileage if you have Power BI with larger files and things like that. I definitely think that was pretty cool that I could access that real easily on my phone and interact with the data.
I mentioned this earlier. Stuff like, go back one second, sorry Danny. One thing I could do on my phone is I could actually click on something like customer discretionary spending there. It would actually filter the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange on my phone too. That’s in all the technologies, that ability to filter other charts from your click.
Danny: Sorry about my premature slide movement here, sorry.
Bo: No, that was good. Number 2. I like this one. Focus groups have determined that everybody likes dashboard thingies. I use it like that because dashboard is such an overused term that a lot of times when somebody says I want a dashboard, I’m like, I don’t know what that means. Is that charts, graphs, reports, what? What is your definition of a dashboard? I just call them dashboard thingies. All the technologies, when I showed the Power BI for Microsoft 365, that’s reports and rolling it up. Your dashboard in that sense is more driven from your Excel document libraries and what you feature, which is perfectly fine.
Where I really like Power BI and where I think it really starts to shine is in Power BI preview. Power BI preview, I think it’s built from the ground up with business intelligence in mind. It’s not so much an add-in. What I’m showing here in this screenshot is actually a dashboard. The way this thing comes to be is that you start with a data set down there on the bottom left and you pull your data in from all those data sources we talked about earlier. Once you get your data sources in, you can define a report. Your report might have 1 visualization on there, or more than likely it will have 5 or 10 or something like that.
Then what you can decide is, hey, I want to pin one of my visualizations to a dashboard. Even though this screenshot is showing all the related dashboards, I can actually have things pinned from different places from different reports that have different underlying data sets. My dashboard is really about, here’s all the interrelated things that matter to me, all pinned in one place regardless of their reports and data sets. The dashboard is really interactive. You can drag and drop things, make them smaller. I think of a lot like your start in Windows 8 where you’ve got that metro and you can say hey, this icon is twice as big as the other. You can do that sort of stuff in here to size around your things in your dashboard so that you get it to look how you want.
It’s still tied to your underlying report. You might click on one of these shapes in here. When you click on that shape it will actually take you to the underlying report page. On that report page might be where you originally defined all 5 interrelated reports for that data [inaudible 39:22] It gives you a way to drill into the details so to speak of your data. It’s super flexible. I still feel like it’s really pretty simple to work with. The other thing that I didn’t mention here in Power BI preview is if you have a data source that’s well-defined, you can do your drag and drop and create your reports right here in the UI. For some stuff you wouldn’t even have to have Power BI designer. You wouldn’t have to have Excel. You could do it right here in the UI as well based on a data set that you pulled in. That’s pretty cool.
I should have captured the screenshot that Github office dev PNP is the one where I just pointed to the office developer’s patterns and practices Github. Once I pulled the data from there, I had really cool dashboards for free with zero work for me to see how many commits, what changes, who the top contributors were, all sorts of stuff. All I had to do was point at a data source. It filled in my data sets, it filled in my reports, and it filled in my dashboards. It was really cool.
Danny: You got to this, I see the waffle menu up there. You got this just by navigating through the waffle menu? How did you get to this?
Bo: No. Right now in Power BI preview, the waffle is a fake waffle.
Danny: Oh my goodness.
Bo: Yeah, in a class I was in recently I got somebody else. They have it to make it look like it’s integrated. If you go back to slide number 12.
Danny: Okay, slide number 12. See all slides. Got you.
Bo: The easiest way for somebody to get to it if they are in Microsoft 365 now is there’s this little tickler that’s been, I think it’s been out there for months and months now. Over up in the top right …
Danny: This thing?
Bo: Yeah. When you click try it now it will take you right into it. Then you can bookmark that URL and go back to it. I actually have it right here. It is app.PowerBI.com is where it is. That’s the easiest way to get to it.
Danny: Got you. All right, let’s go back to the slide we were on before. You all wrapped up with this one?
Bo: Yeah. That’s our focus group.
Danny: Number one, I can hear the drumming. No one else can.
Bo: [inaudible 42:19]
Bo: The number one reason you need Power BI is reporting strategy, code named Whack-A-Mole, is really killing your arm. I use that in jest, but when I really think about it, if you’re in a scenario where you feel like you’re playing a little bit of a whack a mole with your report consumers, I actually think that’s a good thing because what it means, at least from a value proposition of your reporting, it means that people are interested. It means that people want to learn more about the data. They want to try for a newer and a deeper understanding of the data. I think if you’re in that situation, it’s great. It means you’ve got a lot of hunger for reports. The problem is if it’s simple report changes, you just want to give them the data and let them do it. That’s what self-service BI is really all about is enabling your users to try to make sense of the data, and you just make sure that they have the right data to use.
I mentioned natural language query earlier. This is where I really want to highlight it and say how awesome I think it is. It is as awesome as your data model allows it to be. That processing power query of shaping your data in Excel of modeling your data and making sure that your columns are defined as the right type as calculations and that your column names are meaningful and all of that work is really really important. When you put it in Microsoft Power BI preview, or when you put it in the Power BI for Microsoft 365, the intelligence, the natural language query is going to have is really based on that data model.
What’s really awesome here is if you see the little text bar across the top, I started typing a question or a statement. It’s doing auto-complete, it’s looking at the words that I’m typing and determining if it’s a measure that I’m looking for or a dimension and suggesting some questions that might be close to what I’m looking for. I can click on them and the little drop-down as I’m going through and see it. I can tweak parts of this. The whole time it’s rendering different visualizations underneath that make sense for that.
This is a chart that didn’t exist anywhere. For lack of a better word it was created out of thin air based on me asking questions of the data. I just think that that is really cool. I don’t know how many of us go to Google and say what is the, and you see all those auto-suggestions of, hey, that’s my question. I think it’s a great way to ask more questions of the data. Then you see over on the right that you can pin this data source so that other people don’t have to ask the same question. You can pin it to your dashboard, keep it for later, and all that sort of stuff. It will update with new data. Natural language query I think is just awesome.
Then I think on the next slide I’m showing, that was Power BI technical preview. Here is the same scenario within Power BI for Microsoft 365. In this case my data source is an Excel document. I’ve typed the question how many medal by country. Of course, medal is a value in the Excel document. When I say by country it also suggests is by Olympics or nationality or continent. In this case because I used the word country, it knows that that’s geography. Instead of rendering a line chart or a bar chart, it’s actually rendering being mapped with stuff on there even with the bubbles on it. You can see North America’s got a big bubble and then out there I guess maybe Bermuda is a little bit smaller bubble, and stuff like that.
If I decide that the map isn’t the visualization I want, over here on the right of the map you can pick other visualizations of your data. That’s pretty cool. I think this is a feature that just a consumer of the data can come in and ask these sorts of questions. It’s maybe the simplest interaction with the data without even having to crack open Excel or dashboard designer or anything. Of course as I mentioned before these could be featured questions. Once I get it where I want it, I could pin it, save it, and make it a featured question for other people.
Danny: I can search for stuff like how many people have problems with premature slide forwarding.
Bo: Yeah, I’m sure that’s a small number.
Danny: Sorry, are you wrapped up with this one?
Bo: I think so. I was just looking. Yeah, I think we hit on all the other self-serving stuff.
Danny: This looks like, this is pulling, if I look at this, this is pulling from an Excel spreadsheet from this Olympic sample?
Bo: Yeah. The way that came in there is that it was originally uploaded in a document library and then it was, in a Power BI site it was enabled basically. Once it’s enabled you could come over here and choose it. If I click that drop down, some other Excel spreadsheets would be available to choose from and ask questions of. Yeah. This all starts at the document library, which we all know and love from SharePoint. Then you can ask questions of it. That’s power BI for Microsoft 365. Obviously Power BI technical preview you don’t have to start with SharePoint.
Danny: Awesome. We’ve got some questions here if you don’t mind me relaying those, if that’s okay.
Bo: Okay, I’ll give it a shot.
Danny: Boris had a question, nice to hear from you again Bo. Can Power BI consume data sources exposed using REST API?
Bo: Yes. OData is another data source I guess I jumped over. Certainly you can.
Danny: Awesome. Amanda, just to clarify, the only way to use Power BI in Microsoft 365 is to set up the data management gateway, correct? In order to have the ODBC connection in the cloud be able to refresh the data.
Bo: That’s to reach into on-premise data?
Danny: Data management gateway. Yes, Amanda says yes, I have confirmation. Thanks Amanda.
Bo: Yeah. As far as I know the data management gateway is the only way to get into that on-premise data. In a class recently, it was actually a SharePoint Saturday, we polled the audience. We were all just talking. To be honest, the data management gateway is, I think it’s probably an Austin service. There were a little bit of pains with setting it up and getting it configured. I think the documentation makes it sound pretty easy. Obviously with authentication into on-premise, there’s going to be some quirks. It has been shown to work.
Danny: Awesome. Any other questions? If you do, fire them away. If not, Bo, I appreciate you taking the time to share what you’ve learned so far. For everybody who’s attending, we had a great response. Really this is quite a bit of a teaser. There’s a lot of things that we could, different directions that we could go into. My hope is if there are some things that you wanted to take a look at with regards to Power BI and using Power BI with some of your data, I think that’s really where it comes to life. We’d love to do some follow-up sessions with folks who want to learn more and sit down together and share some of Bo’s knowledge and get into it together. Also I’ve shared in the handout section, I went ahead and put the PowerPoint in there as well if you want to download it from the go to webinar app. It’s in there as well.
I also want to, before we wrap up here, it’s good we’re wrapping up before the hour. We have some great upcoming events. Next up we have another person from Columbus. Sherry Lane is going to be doing a session on security in Microsoft 365. If you look on the Free Will site in the event section in July, we have a free understanding Microsoft 365 security options webinar that’s coming up, branding apps and some other webinars. We’re trying to do them every month, every other month, and cover some interesting topics.
Bo, again, thank you for your time. I’m going to check the questions one last time here. Thanks Boris for the comment. It looks like we’re all set. Again, this is going to be recorded. I’ll send out, you’ll see an email next week from me that has a link to the recording if you wanted to download the presentation. Thanks everyone, have a wonderful weekend. Thank you Bo again for your time.
Bo: Thank you. It was fun.
Danny: Great. Everybody have a wonderful day, and thanks so much for attending this webinar. Bye-bye.