Some Lesser Known Features of power BI

  Jul 16, 2021 16:43:00  |    Joseph C V   #PowerBI, #Microsoft, #Analytics, #Visualization

Microsoft has designed Power BI on a self-service model. This makes it inherently easy to use. But the tool still has gems of features hidden under layers that one may not know unless explored.

Let us walk you through some lesser-known features of Power BI.

Lesser-Known Features of Microsoft Power BI

1.   Connectivity With External Tools

Power BI Desktop is blessed with numerous external tools connectivity, courtesy of its vibrant community and Microsoft’s idea of code-sharing. The ‘External Tools’ tab in the Power BI Desktop connects you with external but registered tools, securing your work and data.

Open-source tools useful for semantic modeling like DAX Studio, ALM Toolkit, and Metadata Translator help in various modeling-related tasks like expression optimization, life cycle management, and metadata translation.

To query and analyze data in read-only mode, you can try some data analysis tools that launch Python and Power BI Report Builder. These tools connect to the model in Power BI without the need for publishing the model to Power BI service.

These external tools, however, work with Power BI Desktop and aren’t supported in Power BI Report Server.

Source: Microsoft

2.   NLP-Based QnA

How amazing it would be if you ask a question to your report, and it answers back! And the silver lining to it is, this QnA session works on Natural Language Processing (NLP).

NLP allows you to explore your data with your words, is interactive and fun. This makes data exploration faster than manual exploration. Power BI keeps this amazing feature open to all.

  • Report developers can use this in Power BI Desktop to explore data and create visualizations.
  • In the Power BI service, users can question and get answers about their data.
  • The Power BI mobile app, as explained below in #5, also offers this facility.

QnA in Power BI pops a screen for you to ask questions with some readymade questions. You can also type questions of various types such as below and get an answer:

  • Date based questions like data for yesterday,
  • Most natural questions like highest revenue earning region,
  • Location-based data such as country, state, or area,
  • Graphs and charts,
  • Compare data for product categories and such similar comparisons,
  • Aggregation and rank data,
  • Sorted data,

3.   Trigger an RPA Process

Data plays a key role in triggering an automated feature. Hence, Power BI has introduced a feature to manually trigger a Power Automate process in your visualization based on your data. This feature makes use of Power Automate visuals with these steps

  • Import Power Automate visual from your report’s visualization panel using ‘get more visuals’.
  • This visual helps to add steps for the Automate process and appears as a button in your report.
  • The first step is to ‘Add data’ by dragging in the fields you need for your automation.
  • Then edit the button or visual by clicking on the three dots. This will take you to create a flow. Apart from the readymade Power BI templates, you can create a customized trigger.
  • After the flow is created, apply it and go back to the report and customize the trigger visual.

When you run a trigger, the data based on active filters are automatically passed on to the flow.

4.   Custom Visualization for Power Apps

Data visualization facility in Power Apps helps business leaders to explore data and get insights using the analytics of Power BI. You can bring in data from various departments to get holistic insights. Then, using specific filters, you can refine your data in the 2 components you can use from Power BI in your apps.

  • Visualization

With charts, you can have an eye-catching view of your data in the Power App. A chart pulls data from a grid it is used in and uses the respective filters to show the data. When you drill down in the chart, the data gets updated in the grid automatically.

  • Dashboards

In a model-driven app, Dashboard brings the power of BI by providing a snapshot of the data. You can use a dashboard to represent data from 6 or fewer charts, grids, and iFrames.

5.   Mobile Features

  • Power BI Mobile App

You might already know Power BI comes with free mobile apps compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows mobile to connect with cloud and on-premise data. But here is a wonderful feature you might not have known.

Source: Microsoft

Power BI mobile apps are optimized for natural language processing. How cool is it now that you can ask your questions and get an answer! And with voice recognition, your data is secured enough. This feature, however, is limited to Apple for now.

You can view offline data with a mobile app on all platforms. Isn’t it awesome to access your reports and insights even when you are in a no-network zone?

  • QR Code

Any security can never be sufficient. If you had not known this impressive security feature, Power BI generates a QR code so that you can pass it on to the users of a particular dashboard and secure the accessibility of the data.

Generate a QR code for a dashboard in Power BI Services, as shown below. Then pass it on to your team, users, or testers via email, hard copy, or as a message.

Source: Microsoft

Once your users scan the QR code using the Power BI app or any other QR scanner on their devices, they can access the reports.

6.   Maps

  • Bing Maps

Now creating maps by translating accurate coordinates is so easy in Power BI. This is called geocoding. You can integrate Bing Maps with Power BI with no coding and within minutes by knowing the correct location.

Power BI sends location, latitude, and longitude to Bing to create a map. Sending the apt data category like address, city, state, postal code, country, etc. would help Bing find just the correct location.

Sometimes one location name may exist at multiple places. In such cases, to resolve the ambiguity, add more than one category in your report to send data to Bing.

  • Azure Maps

Azure Maps assist with rich data visualization features to lay upon the spatial data. Most business data, when associated with location information, can derive better and valuable insights.

Using the cloud services of Azure, Power BI renders rich map features through Azure Maps visuals. Area, location, latitude, and longitude are sent to the Azure to retrieve the coordinates and If the telemetry option in Power BI is enabled, telemetry data can be collected, which helps control and monitor temperature, pressure, humidity, and many other parameters.

7.   Icons

Power BI takes the visualization a level up than regular reports and dashboards by offering you icons. These icons improve the look and feel of the reports and dashboards, making them more interactive, appealing, and colorful.

Other than the default ones, you can add your own customized icon sets. Enable icons in Power BI as mentioned below:

  • Go to the conditional formatting section.
  • Toggle Icons slider to ‘On’.
  • Choose Advanced Controls.
  • Add specific icons, conditions, and colors of your choices to enhance the visual appeal of your reports.

Want to Extract Best Benefits of Power BI?

Despite being a self-service model, Power BI still has many features that might need assistance from experts. So if you want to reap the best benefit from your investment, reach out to Logesys experts here for a discussion.