PowerBI Robots version 1.4.0 is here and comes packed with new features!

After a couple of months of receiving feedback from our users, we are glad to announce that the DevScope team has just launched version 1.4.0 of PowerBI Robots. Follow this link to download it today.

If you encountered some of these bugs while running PowerBI Robots, we’re happy to announce they are now addressed:

  • Fixed the timeout issue;
  • Solved the date format issue –output no longer differs from the date format on Power BI;
  • Fixed the “No internet connection” error;

Besides fixing these bugs, our team also added many much-requested features to version 1.4.0, namely:

  • New configurations –set the playlist’s Timeout, Delay, and Locale;
  • Insert HTML code in the message of email playlists;
  • Execute slideshows under the HTTP/HTTPS protocols;
  • Use the following tokens on emails:
    • time;
    • day (number);
    • week (number);
    • month (number);
    • year;
    • short and long date formats;
  • Access a detailed view of your playlists execution history, including recurrence, recipients and delivery logs (successful and failed deliveries);
  • Duplicate a playlist;
  • Improved report/dashboard (UI/UX) treeview selection;

Click here to update now to PowerBI Robots 1.4.0!

If you’re still running into some issues after installing PowerBI Robots version 1.4.0 or would like to suggest more features for future releases, please email us at support@devscope.net.

Embed Power BI reports and dashboards in PowerPoint, Word and Outlook

How to send different data from the same Power BI report to multiple people

In previous posts, we showed our readers how to use two of PowerBI Robots’ key-functions: scheduling and sending Power BI reports by email and displaying said reports on a smart TV (or any device supporting a browser, really).

This time, we’ll be addressing a not so obvious function: sending different data from a single Power BI report to multiple people. In other words, how you can apply individual filters to Power BI reports in your PowerBI Robots playlist to ensure some people only see the data you wish them to see.

When implementing SPAR’s Power BI solution, the company needed to send the newly created business intelligence reports to their 100+ store managers scattered across Portugal. SPAR wanted to keep managers up to date on several metrics but didn’t want to overwhelm them with useless data concerning stores they didn’t run.

SPAR's store performance report on Power BI
SPAR’s store performance report on Power BI

Since Power BI doesn’t include a way to filter a report and send a static image of the result (yet), we implemented that function in PowerBI Robots, our Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tool with which users can schedule and send high-definition screenshots of Power BI reports.

Sending filtered data from the same Power BI report to more than one recipient is not an overly complicated task with PowerBI Robots, but we often get some emails asking how to do it. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to apply individual filters on a single Power BI report that you wish to send to a list of recipients.

If you haven’t registered for PowerBI Robots yet, you can do it here.

The first thing you need to do is go to the PowerBI Robots web agent and, on the Playlist menu, click the green Create button (or Edit from the drop-down Action menu if you already have a created playlist).

In the General tab, after filling in the necessary information, select either Email, File System or SharePoint on the Send To field. We’ll be using Email as the delivery method, although the same steps apply to the other two. Click Next and, on the Recipients tab, add as many email accounts as you wish.

Proceed to the Visuals tab and click AddPowerBI to connect your Microsoft Power BI account to PowerBI Robots. A window with your Workspaces will pop up and prompt you to select the Dashboards and Reports you wish to add to this PowerBI Robots playlist. If you wish to apply global filters to any of your reports (so ALL recipients receive data filtered this way), this is where you do it. Select the report on the left, and click the filter icon accompanying the PBI Url field. A window with your report will pop up. Open the Filter pane and apply whatever you wish.

Filter report data from Power BI reports
With your report selected, click on the blue Filter button

However, given that you clicked this article to learn how to apply individual filters, proceed to the last tab, aptly named Filters.

Select the report you want to apply individual filters to and click on the filter icon next to the recipient’s email address. A window will pop up displaying the previously selected report along with the filter pane.

Filter report data from Power BI reports
With your report selected, click the Filter icon next to each email. To remove all applied filters, click the yellow button next to it.

Apply the filters you wish and click the blue Save Filters button. Repeat this step as many times as necessary for the other recipients and/or reports on your playlist. Click Create (or Update), and your playlist is ready.

Open the PowerBI Robots Desktop agent, click Synchronize and you’re done. Your recipients will now recurrently receive the same Power BI report but with individually filtered data.

If you haven’t registered for PowerBI Robots yet, you can do it here.

Send Emails, PDFs or broadcast from Power BI with PowerBI Robots

Best practices in Power BI report design – get the ebook now!

Almost since Power BI’s inception, the execution and management of Business Intelligence solutions on Microsoft’s platform have topped our consultancy services. Under the leadership of Microsoft MVP Rui Romano, our Business Intelligence team has developed numerous Power BI strategies and implemented infrastructures for clients of all sizes.

“It’s easy to make things complicated” is an old adage that also applies to Power BI, and throughout the years, the team has developed a knack for designing easy to read yet insightful reports. Professional designers are increasingly becoming aware of this and more and more are specializing in designing rich and stylish reports.

Best Practices in Power BI report design
Miguel Myers is one of the more outstanding Power BI report designers

Power BI can be daunting to everyone taking their first steps in it, and designing a good report is a challenging task that requires a lot of practice to bear some fruits. With this in mind, we wrote a little whitepaper based on our Business Intelligence team’s experience designing reports in Power BI.

From planning to branding and information distribution, this whitepaper covers all the basics of designing a great Power BI report and is aimed at both new and advanced users.

To download the free ebook, visit the PowerBI Robots website and click Get Trial. You’ll receive a link to download the ebook once you register.Send Emails, PDFs or broadcast from Power BI with PowerBI Robots

 

How to embed Power BI reports in PowerPoint

One of the most requested features users ask Microsoft to add to Power BI is the ability to integrate visuals on Office 365 documents, particularly PowerPoint. Since 2016, Power BI allows users to export to PowerPoint (in preview mode), but it’s far from perfect: you must export an entire report, and the whole process is very time-consuming. Power BI users often need just a single report page or specific visual, and when that happens, they must resort to the reliable but impractical screenshot, and do some copy/pasting gymnastics.

 

After receiving many requests by clients and hearing Power BI users’ pleas, we came up with PowerBI Tiles, an Office 365 add-in for both PC and Mac that lets users integrate Power BI on PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook as either real-time visuals or high-definition static screenshots.

Power BI Tiles Pro has two versions, each targeted at specific needs:

Embed real-time Power BI visuals on PowerPoint presentations with PowerBI Tiles Pro Online

Click here to download the PowerBI Tiles add-in from the Microsoft App Source store.

The process of embedding a Power BI visual on PowerPoint is similar to inserting a picture, an audio clip or video. On PowerPoint for Office 365, go to the Insert tab, click on My Apps and select PowerBI Tiles. Log in to your Power BI account, and select the dashboard and tile you wish to embed in your presentation. And that’s it. You can repeat the process on the same slide or presentation as many times as you want.

Embed screenshots of Power BI visuals on PowerPoint presentations with PowerBI Tiles Pro Desktop

Click here to download PowerBI Tiles Pro from the product’s website.

After installing PowerBI Tiles Pro, open PowerPoint for Office 365 and go to the PowerBI Tiles Pro Desktop tab. Log in to your Microsoft account, and click:

  • Add Power BI – a window will pop up with a list of your Workspaces, containing any dashboards and reports. Tick the boxes of the ones you wish to add to your presentation and click Add Items;
Embed Power BI visuals in PowerPoint
You can browse all your dashboards and reports after connecting your Power BI account to Microsoft Office
  • Add from URL – a window will pop up prompting you to paste the URL of a dashboard or report published on the web. This is the URL on your browser’s window, not the one you get by clicking Share on Power BI Online;
Embed Power BI visuals in PowerPoint
To embed a visual from Power BI Online, simply paste the URL.

And you’re done. If you have a meeting coming and need up to date figures of what you originally presented, you don’t need to go through the same process again. Just select the Power BI visuals you need to update and hit the Refresh button. Any applied formatting will be kept.
Embed Power BI reports and dashboards in PowerPoint, Word and Outlook

How to schedule and send Power BI reports and dashboards by email

Power BI is an incredible Business Intelligence tool combining powerful analytics with strong data visualization. Power BI is the future of data analysis, and Microsoft works incessantly on it, adding new capabilities each month that greatly improve the user experience.

The Pro version of Power BI allows users to share data and collaborate with each other, but while implementing it on our clients’ business, we found out that, oftentimes, all they wanted was to have a look at data on a regular basis, leaving the collaboration part to professionals. Since the current version of Power BI doesn’t allow users to do this, we developed a solution to answer this problem.

Released in February, PowerBI Robots is a Robots Process Automation (RPA) tool that allows users to schedule and send Power BI reports and dashboards to anyone, anywhere. It’s especially useful to professionals who:

  • need to send or receive regular updates on the most recent business intelligence data, wherever they are;
  • need to broadcast BI data on a large screen without a dedicated computer, such as a smart TV or video wall;
  • need to share data from the Power BI account they manage with several other users;
  • manage a business with several areas and need to recurrently send diverse Power BI metrics to different middle managers;
If you haven’t tried PowerBI Robots yet, click here.

Without further ado, let’s focus on the matter at hand:

Sending Power BI reports and dashboards by email

After installing and setting up the PowerBI Robots desktop agent, go to the web agent and click Create on the Playlist option in the menu. A playlist is a set of Power BI reports or dashboards, grouped to be sent somewhere, in our case, by email.

On the General tab, you should:

  • name the playlist;
  • choose the screenshot output format (image, or single or multiple PDF files);
  • set the screen size;
  • set the screen-captures recurrence (i.e. your data’s refresh rate);
  • select Email on the Send to;
Send your Power BI reports and dashboards by email, to the web or to a SharePoint library
New emails with the latest data will be sent at the set hour.

When it comes to the email’s message, PowerBI Robots allows for a lot of customization. In the menu, you’ll find the most commonly used options at your disposal to make your company’s emails feel as unique as you wish.

customization

If you need to send emails frequently and to a large number of people, the Token feature comes in hand. By selecting one of the tokens from the list, you’re ensuring these fields on your email are always updated, making them feel fresh:

PowerBI Robots Email Tokens
You can select one of the tokens from the list to make your emails feel fresh

If you’re looking for even more customization, you can also try the HTML editor by clicking the XML icon on the menu. If you already have anything written in your email, it will get instantly converted to HTML:

PowerBI Robots converting to HTML
PowerBI Robots automatically converts your message to HTML

After editing your message, proceed to the Recipients tab to add the email accounts you wish to send your Power BI reports and dashboards to. Click the plus sign to add an individual email, or the next button to bulk import destinations. You can add as many data recipients as you wish.

Send your Power BI reports and dashboards by email, to the web or to a SharePoint library
You can add as many recipients as you wish.

Click “next” and proceed to the Visuals tab. Click Add Power BI account and a screen displaying your Power BI workspaces will pop-up. You may see all reports and dashboards contained on each by clicking the plus sign. Select the report pages and individual tiles you wish to send by checking their boxes (alternatively, select them all). On the last tab, you can apply individual filters to your reports in case you wish to send different data to different people from the same Power BI report. After you’re done, click Create to finish your playlist.

Send your Power BI reports and dashboards by email, to the web or to a SharePoint library
You can edit your playlists by selecting Actions from the main menu.

The next step is launching the PowerBI Robots desktop agent and hit Synchronize on the General tab.

Send your Power BI reports and dashboards by email, to the web or to a SharePoint library
Whenever you create or modify a playlist on the web agent, you must synchronize it on the desktop agent in order for those changes to take place.

Congratulations, your newly created playlist will be delivered to all your recipients by email!

If you’re having any trouble installing and configuring the PowerBI Robots desktop agent, please see point 2 of our PowerBI Robots 101. If you still have any questions, please send us an email to support@devscope.net.
Send Emails, PDFs or broadcast from Power BI with PowerBI Robots

Top 3 ways PowerBI Tiles Pro can improve the way you work

It’s been a little over a year since we launched PowerBI Tiles Pro, the first product in DevScope’s growing PowerBI suite and arguably its most successful so far. Over 40.000 people worldwide already use PowerBI Tiles Pro but given Microsoft Power BI’s ever-growing install-base, hopefully, many more will jump on board in the near future.

For those willing to give PowerBI Tiles Pro a go, we came up with a top 3 that illustrates how much it can improve the life of its users and, hopefully, gain a few more in the process.

If you haven’t downloaded PowerBI Tiles Pro yet, you can do it clicking here.

Without any further ado, here are the top 3 ways PowerBI Tiles Pro can improve the way you work:

1. PowerBI Tiles Pro lets you embed Power BI reports in PowerPoint, Word, and Outlook

Kicking off our list is the whole reason we created PowerBI Tiles Pro in the first place: adding Power BI reports to Microsoft Office documents.

Just like many professionals, we used to insert Excel spreadsheets on PowerPoint presentations and deal with the many problems associated with it, namely formatting and inserting new data. The “alternative” was **gasp** taking several screenshots of said data, saving, and manually inserting them.

We had to come up with a solution for everyone’s woes, but since we were transitioning from Excel to Power BI, we ended up developing for the latter.

PowerBI Tiles Pro gives professionals a massive advantage over the “classic” Excel + other Office program combo:  inserting real-time data from Power BI on a PowerPoint presentation, Word document or Email in Outlook. Doing it in a few seconds without any hassle is just the icing on the cake.

If you’re using the desktop version of PowerBI Tiles Pro, you can instead add high-quality screenshots of your reports or dashboards. Either way, say goodbye to those time-consuming low-quality screenshots.

2. PowerBI Tiles Pro instantly updates your data

Another recurring problem of anyone who does presentations on a regular basis is updating everything to the latest numbers. Replacing the values on a single Excel table doesn’t take that long, but doing it on dozens or even hundreds of PowerPoint slides or Word documents can easily consume several hours of one’s day. With PowerBI Tiles Pro, a single click of the Refresh button is all it takes to get everything up to date. Oh, and all themes, formatting or styles applied to the previous version of your data will remain the same!

3. PowerBI Tiles Pro lets you apply Power BI filters without ever leaving Office

How many times were you interrupted mid-presentation to dig deeper into the subject you’re presenting or explore a particular figure? And in how many of those times did you have to minimize your presentation and hastily open Excel or Power BI to search for what the audience was asking you? Yeah, we’ve been there as well.

On the online version of PowerBI Tiles Pro, you can apply any filters to your data inside PowerPoint, Word or Outlook as if you were running Power BI. On the desktop version, you just need to click “Add PowerBI” to tweak with the Filters pane at your discretion. Apply whichever filters you wish, hit “add items” and show the data to your audience.

You can try both the online and desktop versions for free or purchase a license for only 49.99€.
If you haven’t downloaded PowerBI Tiles Pro yet, you can do it clicking here.

Embed Power BI reports and dashboards in PowerPoint, Word and Outlook

Check out Rui Romano’s “Power BI Tips & Tricks from the trenches”

Rui Romano, DevScope’s Business Intelligence Manager and Microsoft Data Platform MVP, was in Dublin for the Data & BI Summit where he delivered a session titled “Power BI Tips & Tricks from the trenches”. This session made the rounds on social media, and we decided to share it with our blog’s audience as well.

Just click the image below to find Rui Romano’s presentation on Linkedin’s SlideShare:Rui Romano's Power BI Tips & Tricks from the trenches

The Data & BI Summit is hosted by The Power BI User group (PUG), a 38.000 members strong organization of Microsoft Power BI users.

In celebration of the Data & BI Summit, we created a special voucher for 15% off any DevScope product purchase. Simply introduce the following voucher at the checkout:

DEVSCOPE-BISUMMIT

Send Emails, PDFs or broadcast from Power BI with PowerBI Robots

 

Gartner recognized Microsoft as a leader in Analytics and BI – and we’re thankful for it

For the 11th year in a row, Gartner positioned Microsoft® as a leader according to its Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms. In fact, the leading company in this particular area:

Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI Platforms
Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms

Microsoft® Power BI™ gives companies a competitive edge by enabling data visualization, which allows for a clearer identification of key business insights and opportunities. DevScope was among the first Microsoft partners to work with Power BI, implementing the platform in our client’s businesses from day one. The results have been tremendous and our customers are among the hundreds of thousands of companies around the globe who have greatly benefited from Power BI™.

Untitled
Power BI Dashboard for SNS, Portugal’s public health service

Among the platform’s keys to success is developer extensibility, allowing ISVs such as DevScope to develop some amazing and creative tools that improve on the platform. Over the last couple of years, the integration of Power BI™ in our clients’ businesses allowed us to develop a few tools that greatly improve the platform’s experience. Key among them is our own suite of products that take full advantage of Microsoft® Power BI™:

PowerBI Robots – a robot process automation (RPA) tool that automatically takes high definition screenshots of Power BI dashboards and reports and sends them virtually anywhere;

PowerBI Tiles Pro – a tool that allows users to add Power BI™ static or dynamic dashboards and reports to Word, PowerPoint and Outlook documents on Office 365;

PowerBI ScoreCards – a KPI and scorecard platform that evaluates as much metrics as a company desires and generates performance reports with data visualization on Power BI™;

Many companies and public entities are just finding out about what Power BI™ can do for them so it’s safe to say that the platform is just getting started. DevScope will continue to fully support Power BI™, help businesses by implementing it and improve the platform with our own tools in the foreseeable future.

Send Emails, PDFs or broadcast from Power BI with PowerBI Robots

Contidis gets the data it needs to open a superstore chain in Angola.

Connecting Power BI to SAP HANA to make sure a $400M superstore chain in Angola always makes the right decisions.
The client:

Contidis is an investment group building the Candando superstore chain in Angola. With over US $400 million in investment capital, Candando means not only big business but also thousands of new jobs, the livelihood of local producers and general access to groceries in a struggling economy. Contidis plans on opening 10 Candando superstores by 2021 but its drive is built on the back of a cautious philosophy: open a store, learn what works and what needs to change, adjust and repeat.

The problem:

Before opening its first Candando store, Contidis started building a business intelligence (BI) model with tools in its SAP for Retail solution. However, IT staff was taking too long to build reports and data was so scarce business users weren’t able to make informed decisions. The application was far from matching Contidis’s ambition and holding the entire business back.

The challenge:

Far from pleased with the setbacks caused by their BI model, Contidis asked DevScope to design a Power BI solution that could handle all their data needs: an agile platform that could grow as their users move from one challenge to the next.

Luckily, DevScope’s approach was not that different from Contidis and Rui Romano, our BI Team Manager, even follows a MO he termed “Start Small and Grow Big”.

“We like to start small, listen to users, modify the solution in order to solve their problems and scale it to ensure stability.”

– Rui Romano, BI Team Manager at DevScope

Excel was the tool of choice to connect Power BI with data from Contidis’s SAP application, which ran on Amazon Web Services (AWS). DevScope proceeded to connect Power BI to the SAP HANA warehouse in AWS and, within 1 month, over 100 employees at Contidis – including managers and store personnel – were using the BI solution to include data from store inventory, product pricing, purchases and promotions in their reports.

11-candando-compras-3

There was still plenty of work to do, though: users were experiencing slower response times, file location was making mobile access to reports a hassle and Power BI couldn’t handle data comparison between Excel files and those in the SAP HANA database. In order to increase performance and circumvent these issues, Contidis needed a single source of information for business intelligence. DevScope opted for building a data warehouse with Azure SQL Database and create a custom PowerShell ETL framework to move data to the cloud. This solution also allowed to configure refresh rates for every table in the warehouse so Candando could access sales data by the hour.

In order to control data access, DevScope implemented a dynamic security model with Azure Analysis Services and Azure Active Directory, ensuring customized BI-access privileges for every user. We also introduced standardized reports and dashboards that help optimize operations (such as sales comparisons that help determine how discounts drive revenue) as well as alerts for unusual balances in order to detect fraud.

Competitive pricing can make or break a new player in the retail market and in order to understand how Candando’s value stacked against its competitors, DevScope built a handy Power BI solution that allowed employees to scan a product’s barcode at any retailer and instantly compare its price to Candando’s using their smartphones. In the near future, this feature will also be able to send data to the Azure warehouse and immediately integrate comparative pricing on a sales report.

08-candando-servicos

These reports allow users to filter views and add the information of their choice such as store location, date, transaction, product, inventory levels, and product orders. Since the solution is so scalable, Contidis can easily add more users and reports, and save data for the long term, gaining useful insights on trends.

“The first Candando store has been open for less than a year. We already have 14 million records in Azure and adding information about 10.000 sales transactions every day. Even though our data is growing exponentially, we can continue to scale the cloud-based Power BI model to meet long-term requirements.”

– Renato Correia, CTO, Contidis

Automated alerts for IT staff and business users can also be configured with Power BI. For example, if a product isn’t selling, the appropriate people will be alerted in order to act on it as soon as possible. Among the many advantages of using Power BI and Azure Analysis Services is the solutions’ scaleability. Just like Contidis’s expansion plans, DevScope’s solutions started small and scaled up as needed. This allowed Contidis to pay for only what they needed and save money in the process.

“We noticed people weren’t using the service in the middle of the night so we just deployed a script that automatically scales Azure services up and down and turns them on and off depending on traffic and usage. Just by turning our BI service off for 4 hours a night, we’ll save an estimate 3.600€/year. This may seem insignificant to some, but it’s very relevant to us. This change supports our energy-efficient culture and in the long run these savings will be substantial.”

– Renato Correia, CTO, Contidis

The results:

Contidis opened the first Candando superstore in May 2016. Its success has been replicated twice and over 1.000 new jobs were created in Angola in the process. Contidis’s plan is to open an additional 7 stores by 2021.
Thanks to Power BI and Azure, Contidis’s IT staff spends less time creating reports and business users can access all the data they need in order to run their stores and fulfill the company’s ambition.

07-compras-candando

“Since we implemented our Power BI solution in Azure, we’ve noticed a big improvement in business insight and efficiency. Our IT staff spends less time creating reports and our business users have a lot of autonomy, accessing and creating BI whenever they need to, be it from our portal or using mobile devices, including phones and tablets. Our continued growth is due to many factors – and Power BI is one of them.”

– Renato Correia, CTO, Contidis

What we did:
  • Implemented a connected, agile and scalable platform that grew according to the client’s needs;
  • Used Power BI to give Contidis access to the data analysis it needs to run a successful venture;
Products used:
References:

Do you want to learn more about DevScope’s solutions? Contact us.
Are you a DevScope client and would like to have your case study featured here? Get in touch.
Send Emails, PDFs or broadcast from Power BI with PowerBI Robots

EPIA2017: AI specialists joining us here in Porto.

applications-that-learn

Philipp Slusallek, Francesco Bonchi e Simon M. Lucas will join many other speakers here in Porto between September 5th and 8th.

EPIA is a well-established international conference on Artificial Intelligence, supported by Portuguese Association for Artificial Intelligence (APPIA). The purpose of the conference is to promote research in AI and scientific exchange among AI researchers, practitioners, scientists, and engineers in related disciplines.

Rui Quintino, our lead researcher on AI, will be presenting his journey from Reports & Dashboards to applied Artificial Intelligence (full agenda here).

The event is being organized by APPIA.pt, LIACC/UP, LIAAD/INESC, GECAD/ISEP and we are proud to support the conference too.

You can also read our city’s announcement here (PT):
Inteligência Artificial traz ao Porto alguns dos melhores especialistas do mundo