Month: July 2015

My Full-Day Power BI Pre-Con for SQL Saturday 453 (Minnesota)

Greetings, friends! I am delighted to announce that I will be providing a full day pre-con on Power BI as part of SQL Saturday #453 in Minnesota in October. Woohoo! As you might guess, I am really excited about Power BI. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. It’s the old branding, but that’s fine for now. Hey, Microsoft, if you want to send me one with the new branding, I wear an XL. Thanks.

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I love the way Microsoft has been enabling users with the self-service offerings over the past few years. With Power BI, they have not just created a new offering, they have established an ecosystem for growing the Data Culture in pretty much any organization. Below is the abstract for this pre-con that just barely scratches the surface of what is possible with this fantastic technology. With their plan to release updates to the service on a weekly basis and Power BI Desktop on monthly basis, it will be even better come October. 🙂

Click, Click WOW: The Exciting World of Power BI

With Power BI, Microsoft makes working with data even easier… AGAIN. After years of enabling IT and Power Users, they have released a new set of capabilities that truly enables EVERYONE. The NEW Power BI includes a cloud service,, as well as a FREE, standalone application that combines Power Query, Power Pivot, and Power View into a single environment completely independent of Excel called Power BI Desktop.


This Pre-Con will cover the entire Power BI user experience, from creating dashboards in the Service to using Power BI Desktop to create data models that help you get the answers you need.


Power BI Service

·         What is Power BI?

o   General offering overview

·         Datasets

o   Importing data from a number of sources, both on-premises and in the cloud

o   Scheduling data refresh

·         Reports

o   Visualization overview

o   Pinning Reports to a Dashboard

·         Dashboards

o   Putting it all together in Tiles

o   Using natural language search to create new Tiles

o   Sharing your Dashboard with others

·         Configuration

o   Setting up the Power BI Personal Gateway to access on-premises data

o   Managing Groups for sharing and collaboration


Power BI Desktop

·         Getting/Transforming Data (Power Query)

o   Importing data from a number of sources, both on-premises and in the cloud

o   Renaming, combining, splitting columns

o   Changing formatting like Capitalization and removing unwanted spaces

o   Creating new columns

o   Replacing invalid values

o   Brief introduction to the M language

·         Designing Your Data Model (Power Pivot)

o   Creating relationships between tables

o   Using DAX to bring your model to life

o   Modeling and DAX Best Practices

·         Visualizing Data (Power View)

o   Choosing from the vast array of visualizations

o   Configuring visualizations for color, formatting, etc

o   High-level data visualization best practices


Microsoft’s goal with Power BI has been, “Five minutes to WOW!” Imagine how many WOWs we can get in a full day pre-con!

General Availability of Power BI

As of this very night (actually, some on Tuesday and some tonight), the NEW Power BI released. As a Business Intelligence guy, and especially as one that believes strongly in hePowerBIAllTheThingslping people to help themselves, this release is a HUGE deal for me. Over the past few years I have become a huge fan of Power Query, Power Pivot, and Power View working in Excel. I barely got started with Power BI for Office 365. I was going to dig into it more when the news of the NEW Power BI came in and was follow by a preview. That clinched it for me.

I am ecstatic with the new direction of Power BI. While Power BI for Office 365 is still there for now, the future is definitely the new service at and the associated applications and mobile apps. The decoupling of this great functionality from Office/Excel and from SQL Server just provides so much flexibility and plays beautifully into the Mobile First Cloud First push from CEO Satya Nadella. This new direction for Microsoft is just so exciting.

I strongly encourage you go head over to and sign up for a FREE (wait…FREE? yes FREE) account. Look for more content here in the future on Power BI. For now, I just want to share that it has arrived.

I do have to share something way fun. I think I may be the first person to actually tell a corporate vice president at Microsoft to go to bed on Twitter.


The response was fantastic, and about what I expected. 🙂


I just had to share that because it shows the passion that these folks have for what they do. We could go on about features that are not there and hem and haw, but at the end of the day, there are people working hard to provide a great experience. And I, for one, think they rocked it. To James Phillips, Jen Underwood, and so many more people who worked to make the new Power BI a reality, I say: