Today at the Data Insights Summit I decided to attend the session on Power BI Mobile.  This is not a topic I have written about much in the past and I thought the readers would appreciate some insights from the session along with a broader reflection on the opportunities with Power BI Mobile.  Let me apologise in advance for the quality of the images – these were all photos from the screen in the session so they are not the best quality.

Multiplying the benefit of Power BI Mobile

When you stop and think about it, the mobile app multiplies the benefits of Power BI.  I know there are other products (such as Micro Strategy) that have mobile offerings, but the compelling feature to me is that Power BI is fully integrated in the mobile app with little or no customisation effort.  That is a far cry from the alternative approaches out there.  The last thing anyone needs to do when building out a BI solution is to also build out a Mobile solution.

Use Cases for Power BI Mobile

The use cases are many and varied.  At its simplest, it just enables access to you data when you are not at your desk, but there are far more compelling use cases that are focused on enabling mobile workers (see slide below).

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Some of the features of Power BI Mobile covered below really enhance the mobile worker experience.

Fully Functional and Optimised

Any Power BI Dashboard or report you have available in PowerBI.com is also available to you on mobile.  There is a mobile optimised view that you can customise from within the Power BI service, and also the full screen view.  In short when you are on a phone and you are looking in portrait mode you will see the optimised view, and when you turn the phone to landscape you get the full screen view.  And you can always switch any visual to focus mode to zoom in and see the detail.

Annotations

Annotations simply take a screen shot of what you are looking at and then provides you with an editor to draw on the image and add comments about what you see.

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The annotated image can then be emailed to anyone you choose and there is a link to the report included in the email so the receiver can immediately click through to the actual report.

Geo and Scanning Integration

The ability to geo filter your reports based on you physical location and scan a bar code to filter based on products is awesome.  The benefit of course is the ability to get the relevant information in your hands quickly and easily.

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This is an especially compelling feature for mobile workers making the experience of viewing the relevant data quick and painless – dare I say even “engaging’”.

Q&A with Voice

iPhone already has voice controlled Q&A that works the same way as it does on the Power BI Service.  This includes the new conversational Q&A that allows you to ask a question, then ask an incremental question.  For example you can start by asking  “Total Revenue of Movies WorldWide” and get a visual, but then go on to say “What about China?” and the user interface understands that you want to drill further into the previous query.

New Features Coming Soon

There were 2 new features that are coming soon that the team shared in the session.

Responsive Visuals

The visuals will optimise itself automatically based on the space it has available on the current screen.  There will be a new setting in Power BI Desktop that can set a visual as “responsive”.  As you change the size of the visual in Power BI Desktop or the Phone, the visual will optimise so that it is readable with the space available.   And if the visual is so small that it can’t be read any more, it will show an icon meaning that you can still open the visual in focus mode but take up very little space on the screen.

Filters on Phone Reports

This has been one of the most requested features for Mobile and it is coming soon.  The integration is excellent with the ability to open a filter pane (full screen) very similar to the filters pane on the right of Power BI.

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And it is fully featured in that you can literally do anything you can do in the filter pane in Power BI.  This includes visual level, page level and report level filtering, Basic and Advanced filtering options.

And a Final Word

Here is the last slide from the presentation.  It is a bit of a teaser as to what the team has in mind for future development.

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Note there are a couple of interesting objects on the slide including what looks like an Apple iWatch and something that looks like a virtual reality glasses.  It will be interesting to see what develops here in the future.

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Matt Allington

Matt Allington is a Microsoft MVP specalising in Power Pivot, Power BI and Power Query Consulting and Training based in Sydney Australia. Visit Matt's blog here. 

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