Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2018 – Round Up

As promised last week, my round up of the Microsoft Business Applications Summit! I will outline some of my key takeaways and my favorite sessions from the conference.

Gilbert Quevauvilliers has a more in depth round up on fourmoo. I recommend it for anyone who wasn’t able to attend the Summit and wants an idea of the upcoming features in Power BI.


1. Azure Machine Learning Studio Integration

I’ve played around a bit with the Azure Machine Learning Studio, but I will be doing a deeper dive in the coming months. The functionality of Machine Learning and Cognitive Services are being integrated in Power Query and Power BI and beyond.

This will allow for a data scientist to build predictive models and analysts to use them without needing to know the code underneath. Very cool! Stay tuned for posts on this topic.

2. Composite Model

This is huge! Composite Models in Power BI means a report can have a combination of data sources: both imported and DirectQuery. This allows for huge data sets to be queried and visualized, as Christian Wade demoed on 1 trillion (yes, with a “t”) rows of data.

3. Power Query Updates

A whole host of updates are coming to Power Query. My favorite updates can be grouped under “Smart AI-Driven Data Preparation”:

  • By Example Data Extraction – including from PDF!
  • Data Profiling in Power Query Editor
  • Fuzzy Merge/Replace operations

I am particularly excited for the data profiling tool integrated into the Power Query Editor. The ability to profile data on import will make the transformation process much easier and offer greater insights into the data set you are working with.

Power BI and the Future of Modern and Enterprise BI

This was one of the sessions I was looking forward to the most and it didn’t disappoint. The biggest cheer of the conference came when Will Thompson demoed the new print to PDF feature on stage with an actual printer!

Delivering real-time Microsoft Power BI dashboards

This was a fantastic presentation and was probably my favorite from the Summit. Peter Myers demoed three ways to connect to real-time data sources in the Power BI service using REST APIs.

I am starting to use the service more frequently to build some course material and this is definitely a topic I have been inspired to look into more.

Data prep and wrangling with Microsoft Power BI Desktop

This session provided most of the points from my third takeaway: AI driven data preparation. Miguel Llopis also announced the upcoming PDF data connector!

Compelling data stories using Microsoft Power BI

Another session I previewed in my last post that didn’t disappoint. Prathy and Amanda gave an entertaining session on storytelling with data.

Amanda highlighted the use of bookmarks to create intuitive navigation of dynamic reports with guided and interactive experiences. Prathy then reviewed techniques behind the design of visually stunning reports. including my favorite quote of the Summit:

Those were my highlights from the Business Applications Summit! It was great meeting so many individuals I only knew from their blog or Twitter avatar. I came away inspired and can’t wait to start building content around the new features and integration with Azure Machine Learning!

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