Power BI gets new AI, enterprise features

Microsoft Gold Certified Partner DAC Systems says the Microsoft Power BI business analytics service will be receiving several new updates built around enhanced artificial intelligence (AI) and enterprise capabilities. These are designed to enable customers to more effectively embrace a data-driven culture inside their organisations.

“The way companies approach data has changed. Thanks to the digital transformation of businesses and the arrival of Microsoft Azure data centres in South Africa, decision-makers have access to a wealth of tools designed to unlock the insights hidden in their data. Solutions like Power BI enable employees to make better decisions by working with data in more innovative ways,” says Gary Regan, COO at DAC Systems.

With Power BI embracing a more intuitive user interface, people can navigate, view information, and collaborate more effectively than before. Much of the new design is built on community feedback from the Microsoft Ideas forum and embrace a personalised approach to give report authors the ability to choose which visuals are available in Power BI Desktop.

From an enterprise business intelligence (BI) perspective, the Power BI updates take the vision of a self-service analytics with centralised reporting using an enterprise-grade platform with unified governance and security to the next level. With features such as Paginated Reports and Shared and Certified Datasets, Microsoft is delivering on a more unified enterprise intelligence vision. Building from there is the announcement of a new compute engine for data flows that enable users to combine and transform different data sources. Furthermore, they can now manage terabytes worth of data using these data flows with speeds up to 20 times faster than previously possible.

“The enterprise updates highlight just how far data management and analysis have come in recent years. This is reflected in the fact that Microsoft is reporting that customers globally are ingesting more than 20 petabytes of data to Power BI monthly,” he says.

And while AI capabilities have long been part of Power BI, Microsoft has expanded this further by introducing Azure Cognitive Services and Azure ML (Machine Learning) data flows integration.

Azure Cognitive Services are pre-trained machine learning models for intelligent applications. Analysts can use these to extract insights from images by detecting objects. Additionally, text fields can be analysed for positive and negative sentiment as well as key phrases.

Azure ML enables data scientists to develop machine learning models and share those with analysts. Power BI automatically discovers which models an analyst has permissions to and provides a point-and-click user interface to invoke them. This means analysts can now easily collaborate with data scientists as well as visualise and use insights from the model in their reports.

“AI can transform data in new ways to help guide analysts in directions they would not have thought about before. As a way to enrich the information an organisation has at hand, these new features in Power BI will result in not only more effective decision-making, but a more responsive organisation that meets the needs of its stakeholders,” concludes Regan.