Skip to main content

Driving a data culture: from insight to action

Headshot of article author Arun Ulagaratchagan

Welcome to the all-digital Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2020!

You can watch our main session and the follow up sessions for each of our areas of investment further down in this post.


Unlock insights: Power BI vision and roadmap – MBAS 2020


In 2014, Satya Nadella talked about  the importance of data culture for any organization. In less than 5 years, Power BI made it possible for over 150,000 organizations including 97% of Fortune 500 to do just that – empowering their employees, their business partners, and even their citizens to make data driven decisions. Today, 2M developers use Power BI, customers bring over 45 petabytes of data to Power BI every month, lighting up 40M reports and dashboards.

Power BI sparked the imagination of data enthusiasts around the world. I am delighted to announce that the worldwide Power BI community has exceeded 1 million members. Our community is deeply engaged in the development and evolution of Power BI – over 300,000 of our members have created or voted on and we continue to release new capabilities that our community cares about week after week.



Our vision for Power BI is to help our customers drive a data culture – helping everyone make better decisions based on data. We are innovating in three major areas to help our customers drive a data culture.

Every Single Individual – Instantly familiar experiences and AI infused insights

Data generation is at an unprecedented rate. In addition to transactional systems, data is produced in vast quantities by IoT sensors, system telemetry, and human interactions. Organizations that can gather, store, then extract intelligence from business data will outperform those that cannot.


Create amazing data experiences with Power BI ​- MBAS 2020


The core of Power BI is about amazing data exploration experiences that are AI powered.

We have thousands of researches at Microsoft working on fundamental advancements in AI. We work closely with the AI teams at Microsoft to take these advances and create experiences focused on business users and business outcomes. Power BI today has a comprehensive set of industry leading AI capabilities natively built into Power BI.



These capabilities have proven to be immensely popular – over 75,000 customers now use the AI capabilities in Power BI every month. For example, Veolia, a leader in water, waste and energy management uses Power BI’s natural language capabilities to quickly get answers. Shoeby, a leading online fashion retailer in Netherlands uses automated machine learning in Power BI to proactively manage inventory.

Not only does Power BI incorporate leading AI innovations, it is also very easy to learn and use. Our goal is to make Power BI instantly familiar to the 1B+ users of Office. For example, Power BI Desktop already ships with the exact same ribbon in Office, actions like aligning or grouping visuals behave exactly like PowerPoint, and many of the experiences such as conditional formatting, get data, etc. mirror Excel capabilities that hundreds of millions of users are already familiar with.

Here are some of the announcements we will be showcasing today:

PowerPoint for Data

  • Page templates3 – report authors will get help in building and laying out report pages with pre-made templates like PowerPoint layouts.
  • Lasso select of visuals and datapoints1 – users will be able to drag a rectangle around visuals to select many of them at once, and within charts to quickly select multiple data points.
  • Drop shadows2 – we are bringing the shadow effects that you can apply to shapes in PowerPoint to all Power BI visuals.




  • Decomposition tree (GA)2 – the decomposition tree will support conditional formatting, drill through, pinning to dashboard, connectivity to Direct Query as well as a new responsive design
  • Q&A updates3 – making improvements to Q&A will now be simplified through a bulk synonym editor, the ability to add your own suggested questions as well as automatic synonym generation based on report renames.
  • Smart narratives (sneak peek)3 – report authors will be able to add and tailor dynamic, interactive narratives to reports that are automatically generated by Power BI. End users get clear explanations that are continuously updated as they slice and dice the data.



  • Personalized visuals (preview)1 – report authors can now empower end-users to explore and personalize visuals when consuming a report based on their unique needs.



  • Updated mobile report authoring experience2 – it will provide report authors with more flexibility, real estate, and tools to create stunning mobile versions of their existing reports.



All the individuals – Scale to 100,000s of users, meeting the most demanding enterprise needs

Power BI can scale to meet the most demanding needs of large enterprise customers, which is why more and more customers are choosing to standardize on Power BI.


Modern Enterprise BI – MBAS 2020


  • T-Mobile is using Power BI broadly across their organization for everything from empowering their sales organization to monitoring their cellular network. Power BI’s integration with Teams makes it easy for their users to collaborate around their insights.
  • Healthcare organizations around the world are accelerating their use of Power BI. For example, Humana is moving from 47 different BI tools and data sources to drive a data culture built on a single standardized platform with Power BI and Azure.
  • Thousands of governments and non-profits around the world are using Power BI to share dashboards and analytics with citizens, which has grown quickly due to COVID-19. A great example is the COVID tracking report from Washington State.

Here are some of the announcements we will be showcasing today:

Enterprise semantic models

  • Shared and certified datasets (GA)1 – helping help Power BI users to build reports based on trustworthy, authoritative data through discovery and reuse enterprise-wide semantic models.
  • XMLA read/write (preview)1 – providing industry standard open-platform connectivity now introducing many additional scenarios for dataset management, advanced semantic modeling, debugging, and monitoring.
  • Pro extensibility (sneak peek)3 – Power BI Desktop enables external-tool extensibility to unlock additional semantic modeling capabilities in the Analysis Services engine.



  • Composite models over Power BI and Azure Analysis Services datasets (sneak peek)3 – allowing business analysts to extend or modify semantic models from IT with their own measures or combine them with other imported data (e.g., from Excel files).



  • Enterprise reports1 – With sub-reports, authors can embed one or more paginated reports into another with full parameter support, thus enabling true master-detail reports that support a wide range of complex business needs.
  • Application lifecycle management2 – Deployment pipelines (preview) allows content creators to improve Power BI content publishing efficiency and accuracy by moving it through development, test, and production environments.



  • Data lineage and impact analysis (GA)1visualize the entire data journey from a given workspace, making it easy to determine the upstream and downstream dependencies of Power BI artifacts, derive impact analysis, examine artifact information, and take action when needed.



Power BI Dataflows – self-service data prep on Azure Data Lake Gen2

  • Certified dataflows (preview)1following dataset certification, Power BI now supports certification of dataflows as well, thus helping users find and identify trusted, quality sources for reuse.
  • Dataflows DirectQuery support (preview)3 – allowing authors to connect to dataflows in Direct Query mode.

Insights where decisions are made – BI woven into the fabric of the organization

The third and perhaps the area of innovation that customers value the most is to help weave BI deep into the fabric of the organization.


How to accelerate a data culture with pervasive BI throughout your organization – MBAS 2020


  • Trust: Trust is foundational for customers to adopt a BI platform broadly. The Power BI team is committed to a fully open platform – at the data tier with Common Data Model support, at the semantic model tier with support for the industry standard XMLA protocol, and a completely open visualization stack. In addition we have invested in Data Protection which helps protect data even when it is exported out of Power BI, as well as a comprehensive set of certifications to ensure that Power BI is fully compliant with regulations around the world.
  • Data Stack: Power BI is designed to work with data wherever it lives – in the cloud or on-premises through 150+ connectors that ship out of the box and new connectors that are added every month. However, when customers are building new BI, analytics, or data warehousing projects we are making it radically easy with Azure Synapse Analytics. With built in capabilities for data ingestion, data preparation, machine learning, and visualization, Synapse accelerates time to value, reduces TCO, and provides incredible performance over large data volumes.
  • Action: Customers value the ability to quickly move from insight à to action à to automation. The Microsoft Power Platform makes this uniquely possible through Power BI, Power Apps, and Power Automate. The products are designed to work together make it easy for customers to adapt quickly to changing business requirements.
  • Collaboration: Insights become more valuable as they are shared. By integrating Power BI deeply with Office 365 – Teams, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. we bring insights to where everyone works and collaborates.

Some of the exciting announcements in this are:



  • Curated featured tables for Excel (preview)3Using Data Types, you can quickly find details from featured tables in Power BI datasets within Excel’s data types gallery giving users the flexibility to organize information in any way they want within the Excel grid.





  • Data Protection in Power BI (GA)2 Power BI now enables customers to protect their data even when it is exported out of Power BI into Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF using Microsoft Information Protection. Power BI also leverages Microsoft Cloud App Security to continuously monitor access to Power BI and flagging any suspicious access such impossible travel activity.




  • Power Automate visual (sneak peek)3kick off flows directly from a Power BI report using the new Power automate visual leveraging the context of your data.



  • Common Data Service DirectQuery support (sneak peek)3 – the Microsoft Common data service connector now supports DirectQuery mode bringing all the benefits of connecting directly to the source such as security, single source of truth, and near real-time data visualization with automatic page refresh.

We wake up every day excited about helping our customers leverage their data to create a competitive advantage. As you can see, we are continuing to deliver innovation that our customers care about at an incredible velocity. Thank you for joining us at MBAS & don’t forget to download the latest release of Power BI Desktop right here.



1. Available today

2. Available later this month

3. Available later this year