What a great few days catching up with my former Microsoft peers, SQL family and even a few wonderful clients. In the second year of Microsoft’s new PASS BA (Business Analytics) Conference approximately ~650 attendees from around the globe gathered in lovely San Jose, California. Next year the event will be held in Santa Clara, California. Here is the scoop on what is new, wild and exciting from the keynote. I also heard a “rumor” that there will be more news coming at the WPC Conference July 13 to 15th as Microsoft launches their new fiscal year. Typically news from Microsoft BI is released at PASS and SharePoint events and in the official blogs.

The keynote opens with Thomas Larock and then Dell’s John Whittaker takes the stage to discuss big data in the middle market. In their survey 96% of organizations cited pilots and exploration with big data projects in 2014. When asking what is most useful with big data, my favorite topic predictive analytics emerged at the top. Not surprisingly the main challenges noted were data complexity, data volumes and budget. Other key takeaways, most critical non-technical drivers include skills, tools and IT + Line of Business cooperation. John wraps up asking audience if they know about Dell’s software offerings – not too many people raise hands. Guess Dell has classic marketing awareness issues/opportunities in that area of their biz.

Now Kamal and Amir take the stage – the fun shall begin! Over 2 million Power Pivot downloads, 100,000 Power Query, 55,000 Power Map, 12,500 Power BI tenants activated. Kamal opens with Microsoft’s version of cognitive BI, Power BI Q&A to show the audience where there is adoption and the most popular features being used in Power BI today. 1,091,547 questions so far answered. He moves on to show a few new features like share via email. Now Amir talks about the Power BI demo submissions – they received ~100 demos – and announce the winner Michael Carpenter. Amir passionately walks through features of this winning Twitter demo that explores if tweeting influences game outcome. Moving on, Kamal and Amir continue sharing all the details that they track with Power BI…web browser usage, Chrome clear winner, pointing out Power BI is HTML5 ready and platform agnostic.

Mobile BI fans, Microsoft FINALLY is releasing the native iOS Power BI mobile app to the Apple store this summer!!! Also Reporting Services is coming to Office 365 Power BI and direct connectivity meaning no more data copies to the cloud. Those announcements are game changers. Awesome. Power BI is getting much better now…and they are just warming up.


They move on to a demo showing dashboards with new KPI features and mention predictive analytics…


New forecasting features in Power BI are demonstrated. On any line chart, you can simply drag a time series line out to a desired time period to automatically visualize a forecast. YAY – they are listening. Here are the official blogs announcing the just released forecasting features with deep dives and videos. The implementation of these new forecasting features in Power View leverages two flavors of exponential smoothing for seasonal and non-seasonal data sets. There are also options to adjust desired confidence interval and exclude outliers. Another interesting feature called hindcast (backward looking forecast) can be used to see how well Power View would have predicted the present and recent data. For Office 365 Power BI customers, forecasting is available now on your site.


WOW WOW WOW WOW! Tree maps in Power View. I lobbied soooooo much for that…you have NO idea the crazy emails, begging and pleading for that #1 desired viz. Thank you Kamal, Ariel, Will and the whole SSRS team. Yep, this trip across country was totally worth it to see this keynote live. Can’t wait to play…


Now a volunteer from the audience gets on stage, walks through creating a dashboard showcasing a new drag-and-drop, chart combining/overlay feature in Power View. What a great keynote! Things are going to get interesting going forward. Bring on the BI Microsoft…

UPDATE 5/12/2014: Microsoft BI Community Key Messages
There are already a few articles that dive into the specific announcement details. I shared my thoughts on what this news actually means for Microsoft BI professionals and customers on the SQL Server Pro Magazine BI channel.