I’m working on several projects right now that incorporate Power BI and learning some valuable lessons along the way, so I thought I’d share some thoughts and experience. I love Power BI and I think it can perform some very cool and valuable business functions. Being challenged with solving real business problems with real data for real consulting clients; it’s natural to both find the tool’s limitations and to discover functional design patterns to solve those problems.
In the last year or so, Power BI has surfaced as a truly impressive tool for self-service projects. A data analyst can import data from just about anywhere, transform and clean it up, model the data, create some calculations, reports, graphic visuals and dashboards. The analyst can publish the whole thing to the Power BI cloud service and share it with others who have the same email domain. In this scenario, everything works great. I make a point of using the Analyst as an example because this is the sweet spot for this product, more so than for the Developer or Solution Architect wanting to integrate dashboards into a larger solution. I’m very encouraged with the capabilities to extend Power BI dashboards with programmatic data sources and real-time data from Stream Analytics and other Azure services. I’m hopeful that we will soon have more capabilities to incorporate this product into IT solutions by embedding visuals into a frame or control, passing parameters, navigating to an from a report using actions, links or expressions.