Although we’re approaching the final few months of what has been a challenging year for many businesses, Microsoft has remained committed to delivering important Power BI updates throughout.

With businesses doing all they can to resume operations and make up for the recent disruption, services like Power BI have become increasingly popular, as they allow organisations to transform masses of information into important insights.

With the growing demands of its userbase in mind, Microsoft routinely implements service-enhancing updates in direct response to customer feedback, providing businesses with the tools needed to build engaging reports.

September has been no different, as Microsoft introduced a range of exciting features in key areas, including analytics, reporting, modelling, data connectivity, visualisations and template apps, in a bid to enhance the user experience.

In this blog, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the most significant updates introduced over the past month, analysing the impact they will have on our clients.

Smart Narratives (preview)

One of the most exciting features introduced in the recent update cycle is Smart Narratives (preview), which removes the need for PowerPoint, text boxes, interactive headers or custom visuals as methods for adding narrative to reports.

Lacking interactive data, customisable text and useful automatic insights, these basic methods couldn’t summarise visuals and reports efficiently in the way that Smart Narratives can.

Providing users with relevant and customisable out-of-the-box insights, this new feature allows creators to add narratives in their report, outlining key points and trends that readers can digest quickly.

Once added, the info is constantly updated with every refresh, helping readers access timely and relevant insights without having to scan through the entire report.

Users can also right click a visual and select ‘summarise’ to generate an automatic summary of that visualisation, which can then be customised using the same controls available in the regular text box.

Reporting updates

This month, there were several significant reporting updates announced, some of which had been highly requested for many months.

One such update allows users to search for a workspace during the publishing process, enabling them to filter available workspaces once they’ve entered the publishing dialogue – something that wasn’t previously available.

Meanwhile, last month’s preview version of the data point rectangle select, which was made available for line, area and scatter charts, has now been extended to bar and combo charts.

Now, users can draw a rectangle to select data points on a range of visuals, including the stacked, clustered and 100% stacked bar/columns. Remember, you will need to first turn on the preview in the options menu before you can access it.

Collage by CloudScope

Of course, our Power BI update overview would not be complete without taking a closer look at some of the most exciting visualisations added to the service in recent weeks.

One of September’s standout features is Collage by CloudScope, which displays images in the style of popular social media networks, using either a grid or detail display within reports.

Images can be displayed in either a compact grid or larger detail view, like Instagram, alongside generic data fields which will be formatted to fit inside the layout.

To display an image, users must first provide a URL, before having the option to add a range of different field types, such as caption, media type, media data, like count or comment count, in a similar style to popular social media platforms.

This update demonstrates Microsoft’s willingness to enhance the reporting process, giving users greater creative license when displaying information and insights.

Deliver lasting change…

With the end of 2020 in sight, many businesses will be happy to see the back of this challenging year that has been filled with uncertainty and disappointment.

However, instead of letting the final few months of the year pass by, it’s important that organisations try and end on a high, implementing new business intelligence solutions that will deliver a range of short and long-term benefits.

With more businesses recognising the importance of having access to timely and accurate information, Power BI has grown in popularity despite the difficulties faced this year.

And with Microsoft promising monthly updates to keep the service fresh, there has never been a better time for businesses to use Power BI, especially with a new year around the corner.

If you’d like help finding a flexible Power BI solution, then contact our in-house team for support or visit our Business Intelligence page for more info.