Microsoft’s October 2019 release notes details all new updates coming between October and March 2020 for Microsoft’s Power Platform (PowerApps, Power BI and Microsoft Flow).

This article focuses on the new features coming specifically to Power BI, Microsoft’s industry leading business intelligence tool. Power BI simplifies deriving insights from your organisation’s transactional and observational data. It helps organisations create a data culture where employees make decisions based on facts, not opinions.

For the October release, Microsoft is investing in four key areas for Power BI that focus around this theme of creating a data culture. The four areas are: intuitive experiences, a unified BI platform, big data analytics and pervasive artificial intelligence (AI).

Intuitive experiences

To create a data culture, every member of your organisation needs to be empowered to work with data. At its core, Power BI is a collaborative tool.

Microsoft are investing in simple, intuitive experiences that are deeply integrated with Microsoft Office 365. New monthly updates will include navigation, streamlined viewing and user collaboration – all facilitated by a raft of improvements to Power BI Desktop and the online service.

A new look and feel for the Power BI Desktop application is already live and is soon to be followed by an improved UI (user interface) for the Power BI Service. The update focuses on simpler ways to explore, find and share insights. For instance, Apple product owners will also no longer feel left out in the cold as Siri integration comes to the Power BI iOS application. Finding and accessing your analysis will be as simple as saying ‘Hey Siri, open my Sales Forecast report.’

Power BI users will also benefit from rich authoring capabilities – from evolved formatting controls to performance-tuning tools. At the core of Power BI has always been a vision to make analysis as accessible as possible. With these new improvements Microsoft continues its already successful journey on the road to creating a truly excellent user experience.

A unified BI platform

With Power BI, your organisation can create a global, governed, scalable, secure and unified BI platform that meets the needs of both self-service and centralised BI. The benefits of using one modern, compliant platform as the single destination for business analytics largely outweigh multiple siloed systems that are detrimental to a data culture.

The announcement of shared and certified datasets is a significant leap forward for data governance within Power BI. The holy grail of BI and analytics in general is the search for the golden record – the one infallible source of truth that can successfully drive an organisations reporting. With certified datasets developers can now push the use of standardised and approved datasets through the Power BI service. Once satisfied that a dataset is sound an administrator can flag that dataset as certified. Signalling to business users that the data source is trustworthy and authoritative.

This new update will encourage the reuse of published datasets, cutting down on duplication of effort and mismatched results. Users will also be empowered to promote their datasets enabling more user to access these existing sources. Once again cutting down on duplication of data and effort. Power BI will also allow users to track the usage of published datasets and their lineage as they are accessed and reused by other users across their business.

Big data analytics with Azure

As your data volumes and complexity continue to grow exponentially, invest in an analytics solution that is easy to use, fast and secure. Power BI enables your people to extract critical insights from your data and take timely actions to maintain a competitive advantage.

Microsoft’s investment in petabyte-scale analytics makes Power BI and Azure an unmatched combination.

The capability of the Azure platform is constantly improving both in terms of storage and analytical features. Azure offers a range of fast and secure storage options that allow Power BI developers to quickly and easily access and analyse even the heaviest of data loads. Be it via an Azure SQL Data Warehouse or the new Gen2 Azure Data Lake, which when combined with Data Factory makes for a powerful storage and ETL solution.

Pervasive artificial intelligence

Power BI helps your people to explore your data, automatically find patterns, understand what your data means and predict future outcomes to drive real business results.

Microsoft is further leveraging the power of AI by incorporating additional AI driven visualisations as well as enhancing Power BI’s natural language abilities. You can now train Power BI to recognise and understand language specific to your organisation. This will make the natural language query much more useful for day to day users as you will no longer have to be as careful about choosing your words.

The new and enhanced AI capabilities in Power BI, pioneered in Azure and now available in Power BI, require no code. This enables any type of Power BI users to discover hidden actionable insights in your data and drive better business outcomes.

Incremental’s Data Maturity Assessment is a great starting point for organisations looking to kick-start or improve their data culture. To read the October 2019 release notes in full, you can access the full release notes online.