I had a chance to catch up with two of the three Matts from the Power BI product team at PASS Summit 2018. Speaking with Matthew Roche and Matt Masson about the new Power BI Dataflows announcement, they told me that Power Query is becoming a truly enterprise-class data transformation technology. Matt Roche explained that not only is Dataflows a cloud-based implementation of Power Query with a browser-based query designer but it allows you to enforce business and data quality rules using strongly-typed entities in the Common Data Service.
Power BI Dataflows & Self-service Data Warehousing
Matt Masson told me that the expansion of Power Query into multiple products and services demonstrates how truly powerful the Power Query platform has become. He said that behind the simple-to-use user interface is an extremely flexible data transformation language, and underneath the M language is a great, flexible dataflow engine. He’s currently working on the Intellisense features of the Power Query M language advanced editor. Matt Masson also said that he is expecting more third-party vendors to create custom data connectors for Dataflows and the Common Data Service.
I also caught up with Adam Saxton and Patrick LeBlanc from the Power BI Customer Advisory Team (CAT). You may recognize Adam and Patrick from the “Guy In A Cube” video series. Patrick described Power BI Dataflows as “self-service data preparation for the masses”. Adam added that that Dataflows takes Power Query to the next level by writing data to tables in Azure Data Lake Storage rather than directly to a VertiPaq data model. This capability enables the Power BI platform to create a truly enterprise-scale data warehouse and Business Intelligence solution.
I asked Adam what skills are most important to someone growing a career in IT-based Business Intelligence. He said that the most important thing is to understanding proper data modelling in data warehouse design. Power BI – by itself is a great platform downstream from data sources or an existing data warehouse. Dataflows and the CDS fills an important gap in self-service BI reporting & data analysis. These technologies provide a common platform for data preparation, data warehouse design and standardized data entity management for self-service and BI reporting. Dataflows shows a lot of promise for serious, next generation data warehouse solutions. Stay tuned for more on this as I explore and prepare demos with Dataflows, Azure Data Lake Gen2 Storage and the Common Data Service.