A source of frustration for many people as they have scaled out Power BI deployments was their ability to manage and distribute content efficiently and effectively.  On May 3, 2017, Microsoft announced their solution to this problem: Power BI apps. They also released a roadmap for future development.  In this blog post, I will describe what a Power BI app is and why I’m excited about the new roadmap.

You can read the entire blog post from Microsoft announcing Power BI apps here.

Note: As of the writing of this article, Power BI apps are still in public preview and have not been released to GA.

What is a “Power BI App”?

Up until now, all Power BI content was displayed in the same area.  This made it difficult for the administrator to manage permissions and for the end-users to organize all their content.  Now, with Power BI apps, you can easily organize and distribute different collections of content throughout your organization.

This new deployment model also creates a simpler experience for business users.  They will be able to access apps available to them on any device and easily return to the most important ones as all their apps will be kept separate and organized accordingly. Additionally, they will automatically receive updates to the apps they have installed.

What is on the Roadmap?

On the surface, Power BI apps seem to simply be a way of sorting Power BI content since they are an evolution and simplification of content packs.

However, what really makes me excited about this announcement from Microsoft is their roadmap for Power BI apps.  Below is a selection of some of the functionality Microsoft has committed to adding over the coming months that will increase Power BI apps’ strength as an end-user data distribution solution.

  • Copy Content Between Workspaces. One of the biggest selling points about PowerBI.com is giving an end-user the ability to analyze their data from anywhere. Up until now, if a user created content on PowerBI.com and that content was not in a workspace built for sharing, it could not be shared with other users.  Fortunately, you will soon be able to move content between workspaces.  This means that you can allow end-users to freely create content and then through an approval process you can easily move their content to a new workspace where it can be distributed appropriately.
  • External Sharing. A big investment many companies make, in both time and money, is in sharing data between both customers and suppliers through EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and manually sending and receiving CSVs via emails. This new functionality will make it possible for you to easily and effectively share data with your partner companies, allowing easy access to up-to-date data that matters to them. This will be made possible through the use of Azure Active Directory B2B, which you can read more about here.
  • Alerts and Email Subscriptions. Power BI first released the ability to subscribe to Power BI content for yourself at the beginning of 2017 and there are still some much needed enhancements in this area. An administrator cannot manage and create subscriptions for end-users (which is scheduled to be added in the coming year). Also, you cannot subscribe to content from content packs (the pre-cursor to Power BI apps).  You can learn more about the current state of email subscriptions in Power BI here and data alerts here. It general, it is reassuring to hear Microsoft’s commitment to improving upon their functionality around alerts and subscriptions as this is a much-anticipated addition to Power BI.

The Power BI apps announcement was an exciting one.  Microsoft is clearly investing heavily in Power BI and I am excited to see it continue to mature and grow. If you want to learn more about other features and capabilities of Power BI and other tools within Microsoft’s Business Intelligence and Data Analytics stack email info@peters.com.  We are happy to help!