Microsoft Updates Power BI With Data-Driven Alerts

Users can now receive email alerts when one of their metrics crosses a predetermined threshold, as part of the latest Power BI update.

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An assortment of advanced visualizations like SandDance may help drive user engagement in Power BI, but even the most ardent data explorers have to come up for air on occasion.

A new update for Microsoft's cloud-powered business intelligence and analytics offering allows users to set notifications when their data hits new highs or lows or starts heading in a different direction.

"With data driven alerts in Power BI, you can now get notifications when a metric you care about on your dashboard exceeds a set threshold," wrote Fetiye Karabay, a Microsoft Power Bi senior program manager, in a July 29 blog post. "Alert notifications will be sent to you as an email, and appear in your notification center on the web and in mobile apps."

Users can set alerts on numeric Power BI dashboard tiles with gauges and cards, she noted. Notifications are private and not shared, even if multiple users share the same dashboard.

Microsoft has also added a new data classification feature, enabling businesses to tag dashboards alerting users to the security classification of the data they are viewing (low business impact, classified, etc.). Organizations can also include a link to their policy information, guiding users to the proper handling of sensitive company information.

Another security-enhancing feature, row-level security is no longer in preview, announced Karabay. The feature, which can be used to restrict access to datasets on a per-user basis, is now generally available and has been extended to Power BI's Analyze in Excel capabilities. A new on-premises Analyze in Excel option allows users to securely use the feature on their local data sources.

Meanwhile, the Power BI Desktop client gains two new data connectors, including one for Amazon Redshift, the company's cloud-based data warehouse, and another for Impala, the real-time SQL query engine for Hadoop Clusters. Both connectors are available now in preview. Microsoft published some guidance on creating reports using the Amazon Redshift data connect in this Aug. 1 post.

Also new are tools that enable users to control the look and feel of their data tables.

"In this release we are introducing a set of predefined table styles that allow you to quickly choose the look of your table," said Microsoft Power BI senior program manager Filip Karadzic, in a separate July 29 announcement. "Once selected, the style will set the needed formatting properties of the table and allow you to fine tune the look by modifying any of the individual properties available."

Existing connectors, namely Web, CSV, Text and SAP Business Warehouse (BW), have also been enhanced, said Karadzic. In the case of the SAP BW connector, it now supports the NetWeaver driver, eliminating the need to download a specific driver (librfc32.dll) from SAP's support site.

Power BI's Shape Map visuals gain support for custom maps. Mapping data from shape files or GeoJSON maps must first be converted into the TopoJSON format.

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...