Daily Dashboard Email Subscriptions is a new feature allowing your PowerBI users to subscribe to a company or individual dashboard and receive daily email snapshots of this critical data.
An example email of a dashboard overview emailed daily to the recipient
For users that are used to Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) this feature could not come soon enough. It is super easy for your end users to sign up themselves for these daily emails, they simply go to the dashboard of their choice (or make a custom dashboard by pinning the visuals they want to track) and hit subscribe:
Note: if your data does not change regularly, then will not be bombarded with daily emails that were identical to the previous day. The updates come via email only as regularly as your data refreshes but no more than once a day. Therefore, if you have non-critical data that only refreshes once a week, you will only receive an email once a week.
It looks like the PowerBI team isn’t stopping there when it comes to email subscriptions, with new features coming soon that include:
In an education context I can see this being super helpful for Executive and Enrollment Teams where they need to track time sensitive data e.g. how many beds remain in the boarding house? What is the gender split in Year 10? How many students have passed their internal assessment before the end of the year? Lots of possibilities exist for daily emails of key dashboards.
Last week, Microsoft announced some major changes to the licensing of PowerBI which will come into effect on June 1st 2017 with some potential ramifications for schools that are currently exploring the functionality in the free version. If you’re unfamiliar with the product in general, then PowerBI.com is the best place to start for an overview, and the key changes from the announcement on 3rd of May can be found on this blog post from PowerBI.com.
My take on these changes is as follows:
PowerBI Free = still available, you can download the free PowerBI Desktop app here, and you can still publish reports/dashboards to PowerBI.com in the cloud but you can no longer share these with other users in the free version (this will require a Pro license – see below). Perhaps a better way of looking at this would be “PowerBI Personal” – i.e. for your own data explorations and visualizations in situations where you have no intention to share or collaborate with others. The update is there is some increased functionality around frequency of data refresh rates using the Data Gateway, along with increased volumes of data.
Data from a dataset that connects to on-premises data using the Power BI Gateway – Personal or the On-premises Data Gateway, and for which a scheduled refresh is set.
A dashboard or report that’s installed from an app or an organizational content pack.
Export to CSV/Excel
Peer to Peer dashboard sharing
PowerBI Premium = The newest feature, all details can be seen here, this is intended for large scale deployment of dashboards and reports across your organisation, including the ability to share content with users who are not necessarily licensed in the traditional way as an individual user. It has a higher financial entry point, with a fixed monthly cost and I don’t see much application at a K-12 level (outside of a school investing in sharing PowerBI reporting with parents too). However this could be a game changer at HighEd / Tertiary institutions that are wanting to enable their entire staff and students to make better data-driven decision making.
Importantly, it appears that the embedding of dashboards into web apps and web pages is now a feature reserved for Premium usage, so this will have consequences for third party developers / ISVs wanting to use PowerBI as the reporting engine in their software.
Example K-12 Education dashboard made in PowerBI
It is going to take a bit for for me to fully understand how these changes will ultimately affect schools. For those that have invested in PowerBI Pro licenses for staff/students, not much will change I suspect and it will be business as usual. For those schools that have been experimenting with PowerBI and the free licenses I think the major implications are likely to be:
No ability to share content that has been refreshed automatically using the Personal Data Gateway, or has come from any sort of database / web source.
Restricted to sharing content that has been manually populated into PowerBI.com from limited data sources such as either PowerBI Desktop, Excel or CSV.
Given most schools want to move towards a “set and forget” approach when it comes to data configuration, it would appear that using PowerBI Pro licenses is the way forward for most schools.
For an external view of these changes have a read of this interesting summary from Matt Allington in Australia where he highlights five different user scenarios and identifies how the changes benefit them. He picks up on the value add for large organisations and the ability to deploy easily across users, splitting users between content creators (who will still need a PowerBI Pro license) and consumers (who will be covered by organisational PowerBI Premium consumption licenses).
This is the first of what I hope to be many quick and easy tips and tricks with various technologies I learn along the way.
I’ve been working my way through the free edX Analyzing and Visualizing Data with PowerBI Course and I learnt something new about PowerBI Slicers (something I thought I was pretty familiar with already). The trainer described slicers as “on canvas visualization filters” which I thought was quite apt and he then showed how you can change them from being vertical to horizontal.
This is how I would typically have used a slicer:
Slicer with the default vertical configuration
In the above, you can see the circled tick boxes and the default vertical configuration on the right hand side. By changing this to horizontal, the visual looks far more like a button than it does a check box:
The same slicer, this time with a horizontal configuration
Clearly, the second option takes up more space in the above example, however on some reports it would be far more likely to work visually as buttons rather than check boxes.
Reminder: to get in and change this you need to select the slicer on the canvas, go to the visualizations menu on the right and then click the paintbrush / rollerbrush and look under ‘General’ settings for this visualization.