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Power BI – What’s in Store for 2023?

Nick Hilton | 06 January 23 | 6 min read

Welcome back to Infused with Data! If you are anything like me you have probably been asking yourself these questions:

"Is it 2023 already?" "It’s almost February!?" "Where does the time go?"

But one of the good things about the start of a new year is that it gives us an opportunity to reflect on what’s happened up till now and start looking ahead to some exciting developments in 2023! Fortunately, we’re working in the tech industry so there’s usually so many things upcoming that you could procrastinate reading about them until 2024 just in time to do it all over again! The dawn of Ai as a huge force in the modern world is going to make technological development seem faster than ever and Microsoft has a massive stake in that. So, I predict that whilst there’s nothing official in the release plan yet by the end of the year we’ll start seeing ways for us to communicate with our reporting and data in natural language as well as all sorts of efficiencies and fun new features. However, rather than making predictions let’s ground ourselves with some confirmed developments and take a look through the official release plan:

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Wow, what a list! It’s important to remember as well that this isn’t going to include everything because as is often the case some of the best features we have by the end of this year won’t have even been identified, developed, or announced by Microsoft until much later on. In some cases we only find out the day the blog drops with an update. Let’s dig into some of the more significant points though.


Continued Improvements to Power BI Desktop

Microsoft are committed to making sure that Power BI isn’t just a tool for seasoned data professionals but for everyone including casual users and everyone in between. As such we’re expecting to see more updates with changes to it’s appearance and usability.

2022 was possibly Power BI’s biggest year yet for aesthetic and usability changes to the desktop software. With adjustments like a nice little branding colour change to that lovely green (which I think has been fairly well received), a newly designed ribbon at the top, and of course the whole redesign of the formatting pane (which didn’t necessarily make things easier and a lot of people disliked). I can’t see 2023 seeing changes quite as big as that but we are going to see some smaller incremental improvements which fine tune that experience making it easier than ever.

Here are some things we do know are coming though:

A new ‘Optimise’ tab on the ribbon: Microsoft believes that more and more people are going to be trying to make use of ‘big data’ and are making sure Power BI is well equipped to handle that. This will allow you to limit the amount Power BI automatically refreshes visuals as you adjust the report, at the moment querying massive amounts of data can be quite frustrating so this should help massively. 


Relationship editing in the properties pane: A few years ago the properties pane in the modelling view was borderline useless but as Power BI has matured this area has become a useful location for everything from modelling, to formatting fields, and organising them. Now they’re adding the ability to edit relationships from the properties pane too! You might be thinking “why would I use that when the modelling view is right there” and that’s a fair question, what you find though as you build bigger and bigger models is that viewing it as a diagram can become challenging, this helps with that. The documentation also states in introduces the ability to edit multiple relationships at once which sounds handy but we’ll have to see how that one works in practice. 

General Service Experience Improvements

From what I can tell Microsoft is betting big on the service being the place to be. Personally, I can’t see Power BI desktop being replaceable for quite a long time but it’s impressive with how far the service has come and they’ve made it possible to do a whole range of data preparation and management activities without needing the desktop software.

Apparently “The eventual goal is to get complete desktop parity in the web.” In all honesty this makes me nervous. Desktop applications give you a level of control and security that’s hard to match in the cloud but I’m sure it’s part of an overall strategy to make both work well together and to provide more options for developers and analysts.

In the past year or two alone we’ve been given deployment pipelines, data flows, metrics, a data hub, data flows, and much more. If I was to make a prediction, I think we’re going to see the integration of Power Query Online massively improving the ability to load and transform data just within the service. I can’t see report designers opting to use this as the standard anytime soon but I do think it’s a great option for ad hoc reporting and for providing access to data in organisations that have specific data governance requirements.

The first confirmed improvement in this space in 2023 is some enhancements to modelling that can be done in the service. This will allow users to work and collaborate simultaneously on the same dataset which is quite exciting. They will also allow users to take an existing dataset and modify it, including:  measures, role level security, format strings, and relationships.

On the other side of things and in terms of things confirmed to be coming we’re also seeing continued improvements for the end user experience in the form of enhancements to the subscription functionality and exporting tables. Users who want to subscribe to changing data can now do so with their own applied filters and slicers making it more customisable than ever, and when it comes to exporting tables you’ll soon be able to export it formatted as you seen it in the report rather than as a dump of fairly raw data. 

Improved Integration with Power Point

When building a presentation you’ll soon be able to embed live Power BI report pages. After the report page has been embedded via a button that will be available on the PowerPoint ribbon, the presentation creator can modify filters and interact with the content directly from within PowerPoint.

Users who have access to the presentation can view the content, and users who also have a Power BI account can interact and refresh that content.  Some of you may already be familiar with this functionality and that’s because it’s been available as a preview for quite a while but in February it’s looking like it’ll finally get released to everyone.

Other Developments

That is just a small selection of some of the updates we’re going to see this year and we haven’t even touched the plans for Power BI Premium, or Embedded so it’s worth digging into the release plan. As mentioned earlier though as with every year there’s bound to be some big secret developments in the pipeline. Microsoft’s investment in OpenAi is in part due to how they plan on integrating it with their existing products. Integration with Azure is already reported and that alone will no doubt lead to some Power BI improvements but I can see Microsoft bring that directly to Power BI too. My prediction is that the current smart narrative visual isn’t going to be looking so smart when we see how it could be replaced. If you’ve been following the rise of ChatGPT you know what I’m talking about.

Whatever happens this year I’m looking forward to digging into it and sharing all the helpful details here on the blog. As always, thanks for reading and see you next time.

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