AI in Power BI: Building the Customer Demo that Checks All the Boxes, and more!

I recently responded to a common ask. An existing customer is evaluating reporting tools, do you want to show them what Power BI can do? Of course, it was on!

My first ask: Get me some randomized sample data. This is key to speaking to your customer needs and wants. Be relevant! What is a good dataset? Financial data that covers more than two years, with hierarchical references is perfect. Location hierarchy, such as Country, State, City or category hierarchy such as Region, Department will work. Be sure to include some type of financial transaction field, as well as a transaction datetime timestamp. Hierarchical data will allow for drill downs and the ability to show both summarized and transaction level data.

Now it comes down to building the report and dashboard, and less is absolutely more! What features should we add to the demo report and dashboard?

Speak to Your User Base

Power BI is an enterprise level reporting tool that has the security controls and extensible framework that when properly deployed can be leveraged for both internal Enterprise level reporting; as well as servicing assets consumed externally by 3rd parties.

Plan on showcasing Multi-Tenancy features by configuring row-level security on your data set. Add a few user roles and configure a related group of visuals to change based on user role, including a data table, a map and image. Cover the basic visualizations, slicing and filtering capabilities. The conversation will naturally speak to the white labeling and re-branding capabilities of Power BI, and you might find that the potential user group or use cases within the customer organization will increase dramatically.

Recruit a developer to put together a quick splash page similar to their existing reporting interface to embed the Power BI report. New technologies can be overwhelming, and it can be tough for anyone to visualize how a feature will function within their existing eco-system. If you can get a sample of their data to build your demo, the audience will already be familiar with the data and you relieve a lot of the “imagining” that your audience would otherwise have to do during your demo.

How easy is Power BI to learn and use?

At this point, you’ve successfully shown Power BI’s ability to serve reports and we can now show how easy it is to author and manage reports. A few minutes on creating a new dataset, adding a new visualization and subscribing to a report covers how quickly users can connect to data sources, author reports and self-service. This is also a good time to introduce the marketplace and custom visuals, as well as the .NET API. Even the pickiest developer in the room will agree that while the interface is user friendly, the capabilities for extensive customization is also available.

Looking forward. Why invest in Power BI?

Now it’s time to show them things they weren’t expecting! Your customer is probably not aware of some of the newer artificial intelligence features available within Power BI. Users can now integrate directly with machine learning models for text and image processing while also leveraging Microsoft Natural Language Processing (NLP) features. Key Influencers allows users to perform basket analysis utilizing fields within their dataset. Q&A capabilities allow users to ask questions of their data. Data scientists can easily add in and tweak Python & R code snippets.

At this point, you’ve shared the sheer velocity of development and availability of Microsoft AI features in Power BI.  Congratulations!  #AIforEveryone

Key Influencers Visualization: Courtesy of docs.microsoft.com

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