Microsoft Power BI Apps Bring Business Insights to Broader Work Forces

Microsoft Power BI Apps makes it easier for large organizations to distribute business insights to their users.

Power BI on iOS

Power BI Premium isn't the only major new addition to Microsoft's cloud-enabled business intelligence and analytics portfolio.

This week, the company also announced Power BI Apps, a new low-maintenance way of sharing the insights generated by the platform with large work forces. Currently, organizations wanting to provide their users access to Power BI data must take the time to set permissions for each dashboard, somewhat defeating the purpose of the platform's real-time analytics and collaboration features.

Now, with the introduction of Power BI Apps, organizations have a relatively frictionless way of spreading business insights to more users.

"With Power BI apps, now in preview, you can easily deploy a collection of purpose-built dashboards and reports to a large number of business users and empower them to make data-driven decisions," said Ajay Anandan, a senior program manager at Microsoft Power BI, in a May 3 announcement. "You can distribute to the whole organization or to specific people or groups."

Power BI Apps show up in Microsoft AppSource, the company's line-of-business software-as-a-service application hub. "Once installed, they can access via the web portal or their iOS, Android, or Windows devices. They can easily find and return to your content because it's all in one place. They get all your updates automatically and you can control how frequently the data refreshes," continued Anandan.

Power BI Premium's new licensing scheme also affects how Power BI apps are consumed. Users are required to have a Power BI Pro license to access the dashboards and reports contained in the new apps unless the apps derive their content from a Power BI Premium subscription, in which case a Power BI Pro license is not required.

In the coming months, the Power BI Apps road map calls for a feature that will enable businesses to push apps to end users or entire Active Directory (AD) security groups. This will enable businesses to quickly get new hires up to speed by automatically issuing them the apps required to get the job done.

Microsoft also plans on allowing users to selectively publish apps from an App Work space, the staging area used to create a Power BI app. Also in the works is the ability to move reports, dashboards and data sets between work spaces along with Azure AD B2B support, enabling users to share apps with external partners.

The Power BI Apps preview is available now. A guide on creating and distributing apps with the new service is available in this blog post.

Also this week, Microsoft announced a batch of new Power BI Service Content Packs that allow customers to build customized dashboards and reports from various SaaS applications. Among them is a content pack for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Social Engagement that is "designed specifically for community managers, providing performance metrics for engagement actions taken from within Social Engagement," stated Youssef Shoukry, a Microsoft Power BI program manager, in a separate blog post.

Other new content packs include Microsoft Dynamics 365 For Financials, Microsoft Azure Consumption Insights, TyGraph for Yammer 3.0, Easy Projects, Webtrends for SharePoint and Transit IQ.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...