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News from Microsoft Build 2023: Power BI and Power Platform Updates

News from Microsoft Build 2023: Power BI and Power Platform Updates

Microsoft Build 2023 brought with it a wealth of exciting new updates for developers and businesses alike. But perhaps some of the most anticipated announcements were those related to the data analytics  and low code tools of the Power Platform. With new features and capabilities that promise to make it easier than ever to extract insights from your data and build custom apps and workflows, these updates are sure to be a game-changer for businesses looking to stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly data-driven world. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at some of the key updates announced for Power BI and Power Platform at Microsoft Build 2023, and explore how they can help your business achieve its goals.

Introducing Microsoft Fabric

Microsoft Fabric is an all-in-one analytics solution for enterprises that includes services related to data engineering, data integration, data warehousing, data science, real-time analytics, and business intelligence. It brings together Power BI, Data Factory, Azure Synapse Analytics, and other analytics-related services in a unified software as a service (SaaS) offering. The platform provides a set of tailored experiences for all workloads and data professionals in one place. It also includes Copilot, which uses natural language and a chat experience to generate code and queries, create AI plugins using a low/no-code experience, enable custom Q&A, tailor semantics, and components within the plugin, and deploy to Microsoft Teams, Power BI, and web.

Organizational data is hosted on Microsoft's unified foundation, OneLake, which provides a single source of truth and reduces the need to extract, move, or replicate data, helping eliminate rogue data sprawl. Fabric also enables persistent data governance and a single capacity pricing model that scales with growth, and it's open at every layer with no proprietary lock-ins. Deep integrations with Microsoft 365, Teams, and AI Copilot experiences accelerate and scale data value creation for everyone. From data professionals to non-technical business users, Fabric has role-tailored experiences to empower everyone to unlock more value from data.

In summary, Microsoft Fabric is a comprehensive and integrated analytics solution designed to simplify analytics needs and provide ease of use for enterprises.

How does Microsoft Fabric impact Power BI users?

Power BI users can continue to use all the existing functionalities that they have today. However, with the introduction of Microsoft Fabric, Power BI Premium customers can now easily activate the Fabric tenant setting in the admin portal. By taking advantage of Fabric's unified capacity model, Power BI Premium capacity can be utilized for any of the new workloads introduced in Fabric. On the other hand, Power BI Pro customers can access this functionality through capacity trials.

In addition, Microsoft is also introducing several Power BI Premium-only features that are aimed at transforming the way of analyzing and visualizing data for users. These features are part of the Fabric platform and include enhanced data modeling capabilities, automated machine learning, anomaly detection, and more.

Copilot in Power BI: The Future of AI

Copilot infuses the power of large language models into Power BI at every layer, empowering users to get more done and create more value from their data. With Copilot, users can describe the visuals and insights they need, and Copilot will do the rest. From creating and customizing reports in seconds to generating and editing DAX calculations, creating narrative summaries, and asking questions about their data, Copilot enables users to interact with Power BI in conversational language.

Users can tailor the tone, scope, and style of narratives and add them seamlessly within reports, making it easy to deliver data insights through easy-to-understand text summaries. With Copilot in Power BI, users can generate reports faster and more efficiently, allowing them to focus on the analysis and insights rather than manually creating manual reports.

OneLake and Direct Lake Mode: A Unified Data Foundation

Power BI is standardizing on open data formats such as Delta Lake and Parquet as its native storage format to reduce data duplication and management and prevent vendor lock-in. With Direct Lake mode, there's no need for data movement, and the performance against OneLake is impressive. Combining Direct Lake mode with the ability for other analytical engines to read and write data directly in the lake will transform how business users consume big data.

Power BI datasets in Direct Lake mode provide query performance comparable to import mode, with the real-time nature of DirectQuery, while the data remains in the lake, eliminating the need to manage refreshes. Microsoft has announced the preview of Direct Lake mode for Power BI datasets on Lakehouses, with plans to launch the preview for Direct Lake mode datasets on Data Warehouses soon. However, Direct Lake mode datasets for Warehouses are currently in private preview, but it takes effect if you use the SQL Endpoint for Lakehouse.

To try Direct Lake from the Lakehouse or Warehouse in Fabric, select the tables you want to include, confirm, create measures and relationships as usual, then create a report without leaving the browser or performing a refresh. The integrated experience from data in the lake through to report creation allows users to seamlessly generate beautiful Power BI reports.

enterprise-level collaboration capabilities with Git integration for datasets and reports

Microsoft has made it easier for development teams to collaborate on Power BI content with Git integration. By connecting your workspace to Azure DevOps repositories, you can track changes, revert to previous versions, and merge updates from multiple team members into a single source of truth. This will be synced into the workspace with just one click.

As a developer, you can take advantage of this integration to author report and dataset metadata files in source-control friendly formats using Power BI Desktop. You can also save files as a Power BI project (.PBIP) to a folder instead of a .PBIX file, enabling multiple developer collaboration and source control integration to track version history, compare different revisions (diff), and revert to previous versions.

Moreover, you can use continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) to enforce quality gates before reaching production environments. Additionally, this integration allows you to conduct code reviews, automated testing, and automated builds to validate the deployment's integrity.

Power BI's Git integration offers more seamless collaboration for development teams, allowing them to work efficiently and effectively in a source-controlled environment.

Fabric Offers End-to-End Governance for Analytics Solutions

Building analytics solutions can be challenging, with data teams having to manage multiple aspects such as user roles, data ingestion, security, compliance, collaboration, workspaces, and more. However, with Fabric, Power BI, Synapse, and Data Factory are combined on a single unified SaaS platform, enabling data teams to collaborate in a single workspace, on the same copy of data, with centralized administration, governance, and compliance tools.

The platform offers several capabilities, including data lineage and impact analysis, data protection with sensitivity labels, data endorsement, admin monitoring, and more. These unified experiences make it easy to jump between tools and collaborate with others on the team. Efficient discovery and management of large amounts of data and analytical projects within an organization are also key, and the OneLake Data Hub empowers everyone in the organization to centrally discover and explore relevant data, take further action, or build upon what others have started.

Fabric provides end-to-end governance for analytics solutions, eliminating the complexities of managing multiple systems and enabling data teams to work efficiently and effectively on a unified platform.

Simplified Purchasing and Management of Analytics Projects with Universal Compute Capacities

Fabric makes purchasing and managing analytics resources a breeze. Customers can buy a single pool of compute that powers all Fabric experiences, enabling them to create solutions that leverage all workloads freely without any commerce or experience friction. This all-inclusive approach significantly reduces costs, as any unused compute capacity in one workload can be used by any of the other workloads.

For Power BI Premium customers, existing Power BI Premium P SKUs will automatically support all the new Fabric experiences. Moreover, new Fabric SKUs will be available for purchase starting June 1, 2023 giving customers access to all these experiences.

In summary, Fabric's universal compute capacities streamline purchasing and management of analytics resources, providing customers with a cost-effective and efficient way to leverage all the necessary workloads in their solutions.

Power Platform

Microsoft Build 2023, an event dedicated to developers, introduced an array of updates to the power platform. As AI continues to be a dominant force in the technology space, this year's event focused on democratizing advancements in AI to support developers' productivity. Microsoft aims to empower any developer to use any programming language or operating system and deploy applications anywhere. This year's Microsoft Build showcased exciting announcements and a fantastic lineup of news that reflects Microsoft's commitment to the developer community and the potential of AI, making it an event not to miss.

With turnkey data-to-app capabilities at scale, Microsoft Dataverse is significantly cutting down development time to market. In preview, the latest updates center around three key themes:

  1. Accelerating Data-Driven App Development
    • Excel to app: Developers can quickly create solutions in Power Apps by dragging and dropping or linking to a data source such as Excel. They can then easily build the UI on top of the data, streamlining the development process.
    • Custom Plugins in Dataverse using Power Fx: Using Power Fx, developers can author reusable plugins in Dataverse that allow them to write business logic and Dataverse rules, which define triggers and actions. These plugins can recreate actions that exist in a source system, such as SQL Stored Procedure, and later use those actions directly from Dataverse and Power Platform. The plugin stores the action identifier, configuration, and authentication information in Dataverse, enabling direct use in an app or Power Automate flow.
  1. Streamlining data insights
    • Data hygiene suite: Developers can now easily create next-generation apps that are contextually aware and smarter using more accurate data with smart data validation, deduplication, and native content AI experiences. These features are fully integrated into Dataverse and Power Platform, enabling a complete data-to-insights-to-action development loop with just a few clicks.
    • Query Dataverse tables in Power Apps using SQL language: Using a web-based SQL editor instance within Power Apps Studio, developers can quickly write familiar queries for Dataverse tables. This includes exploring, filtering, aggregating, sorting, joining, and grouping data in an efficient manner.
  1. Trust
    • IP Firewall: By leveraging IP Firewall, developers can enforce real-time analysis of the IP address for each request, thus applying the right access controls to secure their organization.


Power Pages and Co-Pilot

Power Pages' next-generation AI is transforming the website-building process for businesses. In preview, Copilot in Power Pages enables users to generate text, create complex forms, contextual chatbots, and web page layouts, and design image and site themes rapidly using natural language input and intelligent suggestions, increasing productivity and speeding up the website building process.

Copilot in Power Pages serves as a digital web copy editor, generating text in seconds based on basic descriptions. To build forms, users can simply describe the type of form needed, and Copilot will auto-generate tables in Dataverse with fields that can be easily edited, removed or added using natural language input. Additionally, Copilot now supports one-click chatbot activation, further improving the customer experience and facilitating quick website building.


Power Virtual Agents

Power Virtual Agents is continuously empowering developers to create more intelligent chatbots with the latest AI capabilities. The platform has recently introduced several new features, such as:

  • In limited preview, Power Virtual Agents now has the ability to dynamically link user-provided tools, such as pre-built connectors, custom connectors, Power Automate flows, and existing Power Virtual Agents topics. The platform utilizes Azure OpenAI Service and a large language model (LLM) to facilitate entity extraction and slot filling, allowing chatbots to fulfill requests that the author may not have foreseen.

  • Now in preview, builders can employ Azure Conversational Language Understanding (CLU) integration to integrate custom language models into Power Virtual Agents by leveraging CLU. This includes dialogue triggering, interruptions, "did you mean" suggestions, and slot filling. Builders can map CLU intents and entities to Power Virtual Agents topics and use them alongside the platform's pre-built entries for all supported languages.

  • Previously announced features have been expanded, including conversation boosters, which now support SharePoint and OneDrive URLs, as well as multi-turn conversations. Additionally, Copilot in Power Virtual Agents is now generally available.

Power Virtual Agents' new authoring canvas is now generally available and will include these enhancements. The updated canvas offers features such as event extensibility, rich responses, a new variable system utilizing Power Fx, and a code-like view.


Power Automate

Power Automate is unveiling new features that empower developers to create automation for their organization and assist administrators in orchestrating robotic process automation (RPA) at scale. Here are some of the updates:

  • The preview of Copilot and the refreshed cloud flow designer speeds up automation development by introducing a new side panel for users to interact with a copilot and make changes.
  • The preview of Custom actions SDK empowers users to create, use, and manage custom actions for Power Automate for desktop. The new dedicated assets library in the Power Automate for desktop designer facilitates building automation with customized actions that are tailored to their frequently used and homegrown apps, thereby accelerating the process.
  • The preview of Describe it to design it feature now has the ability to comprehend parameters, and it automatically fills values for required configuration parameters. This capability reduces the amount of manual configuration needed to produce flows using a natural language description.

Take advantage of Microsoft Fabric and Copilot AI with Power BI Premium

Transform how you analyze and visualize data and use conversational language to create customized reports in seconds!

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