Top 5 new features for Power BI March 2021

Acterys Power BI Sync Architecture Cloudstreet

Our favourite updates for March 2021 in the Power BI Service and the Power BI Desktop application include :

  1. See What’s Going on in your Datasets with an improved Dataset Management interface in the Power BI Service
  2. Greater Scale in the Power BI Embedded v2 Preview Update
  3. See what Power BI Embedded can offer in the new Contoso Demo application for Power BI Embedded (as salesperson or sales manager).
  4. Take Control of your Company with Acterys Planning and Consolidation for Power BI and Excel
  5. Smart KPI Visual for innovative ways to view your KPI performance.

Let’s see these in action.

Updates to the Dataset Management interface in the Power BI Service

When clicking on a dataset now in the workspace content list view, a new dataset details page is opened to provide meaningful information and quick actions.  This includes:

  • Information about the dataset including last refresh time
  • List of reports that are built on top of the dataset (just reports that you have access to will be shown here)
  • Usage metrics for the last 30 days, including how many users and report opens were there for the last 30 days, not including today.
  • Quick actions: View lineage, Show Impact Analysis, Create a report and Analyse in Excel
  • Create from template – if there is a template report defined for this dataset, you can quickly create a report from this template.


Updates to Data Management Cloudstreet Consulting

Power BI Embedded v2 Preview

Why we are excited about updates to the Power BI Embedded service is because we have loads of clients already using this service who will benefit from these new updates.  These benefits bring high levels of performance at no extra cost and bring in new features without extra cost.  The updates for Gen2 Power BI Embedded Capacity include:

  • Greater Scale
    • Enhanced performance – If you check out the Contoso Embedded demo next in this blog, you will see that embedded reports can take some time to load.  This is because the embedded performance is impacted by the capacity you choose, the number of users and the optimisation of your report. Performance of the Embedded Service will run faster than the old Gen 1 service. Operations will always perform at top speed and won’t slow down when the load on the capacity approaches the capacity limits.  Performance improvements cover greater scale – Including the following enhancements:
    • No limits on refresh concurrency – You no longer need to track schedules for datasets being refreshed on your capacity
    • Fewer memory restrictions
  • Complete separation between report interaction and scheduled refreshes
  • Lower entry level for paginated reports and AI workloads – Start with an A1 SKU and grow as you need.  This is huge as paginated reports previously were only allowed in the higher level A4 level SKU making it out of touch for lots of companies.
  • Scaling a resource instantly – Instantly scale your Power BI Embedded resource. From scaling a Gen1 resource in minutes, to scaling a Gen2 resource in seconds.
  • Scaling without downtime – With Embedded Gen2 you can scale your Power BI Embedded resource without experiencing any downtime.
  • Improved metrics – Including clear and normalised capacity utilisation data, depending only on the complexity of the analysis operations the capacity performs. Metrics are not impacted by other factors such as the size of the capacity, and the level of load on the system while performing analytics. When using the improved metrics, the built-in reporting tool allows you to clearly see:
    • Utilisation analysis
    • Budget planning
    • Chargebacks
    • The need to upgrade your capacity

The Contoso Demo application for Power BI Embedded (as salesperson or sales manager).

Contoso is one of Microsoft’s fictional companies used for documentation, demo and training material.  Contoso is Retail Global multinational organisation, with its headquarters in Paris.  The company achieves manufacturing, sales and support with more than 10,000 products and features a broad set of data to demonstrate the capabilities of Power BI.   In this case, a demonstration website has been released which showcases the capabilities of embedding your Power BI reports in a custom website.  You can choose your role as either a Salesperson or a Sales manager. 

User type Cloudstreet Consulting

Once inside the website as a Salesperson for example, you explore your world in a series of visual rich responsive Power BI dashboard tiles and reports. This includes creative visuals such as the Calendar view for viewing activities on a timeline over Month, Week, Day or List.

Calendar View Cloudstreet Consulting

Acterys Planning and Consolidation

Acterys is Fast, Effect and Smart Analytics Solution for Excel and Power BI allowing you to automatically integrate your data from a number of sources and then shape and plan your data with sophisticated business modelling, writeback functionality, and a bunch of cool new visuals.  Anyone using Hubspot, Salesforce, Xero, Quickbooks and Myob will get the benefit of instant Template apps within seconds of activating Acterys on your data.  To tap into advanced functionality, you can achieve for example a rolling forecast in Power BI – How To Implement Rolling Forecast in Power BI (  

Meanwhile the Acterys Power BI Sync architecture takes care of refresh in the background with reliance on the I.T. department, all managed within the Acterys management portal. Those that still love to work in Excel, can continue to work in Excel, with the Acterys Addin for Excel that allows you to do all of your work without leaving your favourite tool.

Acterys Power BI Sync Architecture Cloudstreet

Smart KPI List by Nova Visual

If you head on over to Homepage – Power BI Visuals by Nova Silva you will see a bunch of cool new visuals from this company offered as third party, try before you buy.  One of these new visuals is called, Smart KPI List, and it’s smart because it offers a number of innovative ways to visualised Key Performance Indicator metrics.  These smarts include :

  • Specific: A red-dot that highlights the KPI’s that need immediate attention;
  • Measurable: A sparkline shows the trend to determine if you are moving towards your goal;
  • Achievable: By comparing each result with a target you can determine if your KPI has met expectations;
  • Relevant: Within the sparkline you can add a bandwidth of acceptable results which helps the user to identify “normal” and “abnormal” results in the past;
  • Time-bound: The sparkline adds the required historic context to each indicator to enrich the indicators signals;

Another cool visual offered by this company is called Cycle Plot, which shows patterns and trends in seasonal data. As the world reboots and plans for Covid recovery, this type of analysis will be powerful for looking at airline trends, spend and more.

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