March 12, 2018 Martin Kratky

Just Because It Says Power BI It Doesn’t Really Mean It Is…

I can’t help smiling when I see legacy BI/Planning application vendors -that were not so long laughing away Power BI- coming out with their own “Power BI Integrations” after Microsoft has turned around the industry. 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 worse just using the Power BI look and feel in their own app and a link to a totally separate Power BI instance), respectively moving data around from their proprietary data stores (that typically require expensive licensing) to one that Power BI can work with.

Rendering a web page in Power BI is not an integration

One shortcoming of these “web page report integrations” is, that they are not at all making use of the unique features and purpose of Power BI e.g. i.e. a  selection/filter of a Power BI item has no effect on the respective “integration” and all insights through displaying cross dependencies are not available.

Moving data between different platforms doesn’t work for real-time planning requirements

The “moving data around” approach is equally problematic: planning scenarios require instant response. A process that requires moving data between different platforms can never achieve that.

No integrated authentication

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:

Questions to ask:

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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