Earlier this month at the Microsoft Build developer conference, the Power BI group at Microsoft revealed game-changing updates to the desktop client that makes working with large datasets much easier.

Incremental Refresh

In May’s update of Power BI Desktop, Microsoft improved the incremental refresh feature that enables software and its users to work better with large datasets stored in Power BI Premium. At first, the change in performance may go unnoticed because historical data must be loaded first, but after the initial load, refreshes will be much faster. This makes working with large datasets less of a waiting game. Currently in beta, the feature provides filters that enable users to set ranges, how long the data is stored, and several other options.

New Features

The recent update also includes multiple features and enhancements that offer more flexibility in presenting data in reports, such as the ability to synchronize multiple slicers.  A new conditional-formatting feature allows users to format a column using colors derived from a different field to enable richer data mashups. Along with the two new custom visualizations, users are especially excited for the enhanced drill-through filtering capabilities. Back in September, Microsoft released a drill-through experience that allows you to move from one page to another carrying specific filters through. This was a powerful feature but was limited. Only filters on the fields explicitly placed in the drill-through filters bucket would be carried through and there was no way to carry the entire filter context of your data point through the drill-through page. This month, they have fixed that issue, allowing users to carry all filters through.

Data Connectors

The increasing number of beta connections allow users to obtain more types of data from different sources. Below are the data connectivity updates for May.

In preview, the “From Web” connector allows HTML data extraction and the Adobe Analytics connector update offers support for multiple domain logins. New beta connectors include Common Data Service for Apps and Azure KustoDB. The most exciting updates for users is the availability of new connectors for Google BigQuery and Azure HDInsight Spark. Other updates include analytic views support for Visual Studio Team Services and support for alternate Windows credentials in the OLE DB connector, as well as, improved technical name support in the SAP BW DirectQuery connector.

In addition, changes to the Power BI Gateway now supports custom data connectors when used in personal mode. Personal mode allows users to install and use the gateway on their personal PC, while connecting to local data sources.

As more resources are released to connect our data, you must reflect on the content of your data. Does your data contain personal information of European Union (EU) citizens? If so, you must consider the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU’s new personal data protection and privacy regulation that went into effect May 25, 2018.  There are some steps you can take become more aware of and prepared for GDPR.  Check out Microsoft’s Power BI GDPR whitepaper, adding to the library of data protection resources.  This document captures the importance of citizen’s rights to know what is being done with their personal data and why it’s crucial for companies, EU and US, to be compliant with the regulation.  If you would like learn more about how TDI can help you in your data governance or analytics strategy, let us know! Our team can ensure you have the right systems, governance processes, and analytic capabilities to provide the most value for data in your organization.