I can’t help smiling when I see legacy BI application vendors -that were not so long laughing away Power BI- coming out -after Microsoft is completely turning around the industry- with their own “Power BI Integrations”. These are more often than not nothing but a marketing spiel to build on Power BI’s awareness and of very limited use in real life application scenarios.
Typically, it involves a visual that renders one of their web application pages within Power BI or moving data around from their proprietary data stores (that typically require expensive licensing) to one that Power BI can work with.
One shortcoming of these “web page report integrations” is, that they are not making use of any of the unique features of Power BI e.g. cross filtering of visuals: this means that selections in Power BI filters are not reflected, respectively that all insights through the normal display of cross dependencies in visuals are not available.
The “moving data around” approach is equally problematic: planning scenarios require instant response and handling of high volumes of data. Another added step that requires adding records to an additional system can never achieve that.
The final aspect is authentication: the legacy BI applications typically use their own authentication mechanisms that don’t integrate with Power BI’s.
In summary we recommend asking the following questions to assess if an integration with Power BI is efficient and of practical use or a just a bottle of snake oil:
1. Can all aspects of the integration respond to selections in other Power BI visuals?
2. To display the data in Power BI: is it necessary to move the legacy BI application’s data into another data store?
3. Does the integration support one of Power BI’s standard authentication methods enabling Single Sign On (SSO), respectively another mechanism that avoids users having to login again on every instance where the “integrated report” is used respectively after every data refresh in Power BI.
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