Microsoft has blown away the data world with its recent massive announcement of Microsoft Fabric. It is a brand-new product unifying Microsoft’s cloud services and products on one single platform. Microsoft Fabric combines:
- Azure Data Factory,
- Synapse Data Engineering,
- Synapse Data Science,
- Synapse Data Warehouse,
- Synapse Real-Time Analytics,
- Power BI,
with the addition of Data Activator and Direct Lake (you can read all about Microsoft Fabric and how it will revolutionize the data world here).
Along with this big news about next-generation Microsoft Fabric, it has also announced the integration of Copilot in Power BI.
Looking at its capabilities, it will have a tremendous impact on data modeling processes. It empowers business users with different technical expertise to create highly sophisticated models with ease and in a timely manner.
Nevertheless, what exactly is Microsoft Copilot, and how will it transform the Power BI capabilities we know today?
Once you read this article, you will know:
- What is Microsoft Copilot,
- How does Copilot integrate with Microsoft Power BI,
- How to use Copilot in Power BI – use cases,
- Where is the catch – what are Copilot Power BI limitations?
What is Microsoft Copilot?
Microsoft Copilot is an advanced AI-powered tool combining the power of large language models (LLMs), Microsoft Graph, and the Microsoft 365 Suite.
It uses natural language prompts and transforms them into effective productivity resources. As a result, it acts as an assistant, providing suggestions for code completion and documentation as you type. It can:
- understand the context and intent of your code,
- produce relevant suggestions matching your coding style,
- generate suggestions according to coding best practices.
Once Copilot produces suggestions, you can accept, reject, or modify them as you wish.
Nevertheless, Copilot is not exclusively a code autocomplete tool. It can also assist in:
- writing tests,
- introducing new features,
- fixing bugs,
- learning new frameworks and languages,
- generating code from plain English queries and comments.
How does Copilot integrate with Microsoft Power BI?
In their latest announcement, mainly focused on Microsoft Fabric, Microsoft added an exciting update: Copilot will be seamlessly integrated with Power BI. As you probably already know, Power BI is a leading business intelligence and data visualization product.
In fact, the integration of Copilot into Microsoft Power BI has a huge potential to empower data analysts, data engineers, data scientists, and business users to unlock new levels of data insights, productivity, and efficiency.
With its advanced processing and orchestration engine combined with an extensive understanding of natural language, it will allow business users to interact with Power BI capabilities in a more intuitive way, analyze data more efficiently, and quickly get actionable insights.
As a result, Copilot will act as a bridge between technical expertise and business insights, increasing data democratization – meaning making data analysis and modeling more accessible to more users, especially who are not technical.
How will Copilot assist Power BI users?
Once integrated with Power BI, Copilot will help you with, for example:
- writing DAX formulas,
- modifying the data model,
- adding visuals to the report page,
- auto-creating a complete report.
An example of a Power BI report created with conversational capabilities of Microsoft Copilot
All you need to do is simply describe the visuals and insights you want to get, and Copilot will do the rest for you.
As a result, you can:
- automatically create and tailor reports to your needs within seconds,
- create narrative summaries,
- edit DAX calculations, or
- ask questions about your organization’s data.
And the best thing is that you can do it all in a conversational language (instead of SQL, or Python).
In fact, you could already have a little taste of some of the Copilot in Power BI functionalities. Have you used Smart Narrative Visual in your Power BI reports? Or maybe have your tried Auto-create report in Power BI Service on an existing dataset?
Smart Narrative visualization provides a quick text summary of visuals and reports. Auto-create report automatically creates a Power BI report with just one click. If you have not yet used any of these, I highly recommend trying them out.
How to use Copilot in Power BI – use cases
To summarize the Copilot capabilities, let’s go through a few use cases.
Automated data exploration
Copilot in Power BI capabilities empower users to automate the data exploration process. As a result, you can easily identify:
- data quality issues,
- key patterns,
- key influencers,
- data duplication occurrences,
and get new insights and suggestions about potential transformations, or cleansing steps, that will save your time and effort.
Automated report creation
Moreover, with Copilot in Power BI, users automatically create reports by using suggestions of the most relevant visuals, measures, and query structures based on the underlying data.
This way, Power BI Copilot transforms the report development process and enables users to have their report with multiple charts, key metrics, and narrative summaries generated within seconds.
It is especially useful when BI analysts or data analysts need to create a Power BI report from an unfamiliar dataset or need to create preliminary report drafts for further refinements.
Copilot’s AI engine has been trained on massive amounts of data and insights.
Consequently, it can provide highly accurate intelligent suggestions and autocomplete options based on your data context. It allows you to speed up the data modeling process and increase its efficiency.
Conversational data modeling capabilities
Copilot’s ability to understand natural language prompts allows you to create and modify data models using only plain, conversational language.
As a result, even non-technical users can ask Copilot to create measures and relationships or produce calculated columns by effortlessly writing natural language queries instead of complex syntax and formulas.
Copilot can also assist you in query optimization by providing you with suggestions of alternative and more efficient ways to access and manipulate data.
For example, it can suggest optimizations based on:
- query structure,
- data model,
- user interactions.
Advanced DAX calculations
Creating DAX measures in Power BI could keep you awake at night but, with Copilot, not anymore. It can easily produce and edit complex DAX formulas for you, saving you time and effort.
As a result, you can provide strategic advice and insights that will assist in making business decisions. All you need to do is describe to Copilot what you want to achieve, and it will generate code tailored to your specifications.
Enhanced data storytelling
Finally, Copilot can provide support for users who need to produce compelling data stories with their Power BI reports. It can suggest accurate visuals, narrative structures, measures, and insights.
Therefore, it can serve as a great assistant in producing highly engaging reports that efficiently communicate data-driven narratives to decision-makers, executives, and other stakeholders.
Where is the catch – what are Copilot in Power BI limitations?
Remember, though, that Microsoft Copilot is still just a tool. It won’t replace human intelligence or creativity. Although it can assist with your data tasks effectively, it cannot guarantee the precision of the code or the quality of the insights it produces.
As a result, you should always scrupulously verify the suggestions provided by Copilot before implementing them in your business intelligence projects.
It is especially applicable to highly advanced challenges that require deep expertise (for example, a project with an enhanced data model with numerous active and inactive relationships, dependencies, or incremental refreshes using hybrid tables). Although Copilot can understand complex data models and analyze data, you need to understand them as well.
Consequently, keep in mind that Microsoft Copilot transforms the data business domain, adding more value, but it doesn’t release data analysts from the need to learn and understand the core concepts and languages behind Power BI. It is important to still have and refresh your knowledge about DAX, M, data engineering, data profiling, data visualization, and other Power BI features to successfully deliver data insights.
Microsoft Copilot for Power BI can assist you in the learning process and improve your data skills by producing accurate examples, suggestions, explanations, and appropriate visuals that will impact data-driven decision-making.
Microsoft Copilot in Power BI will be a revolution?
Summing up, the integration of Copilot in Power BI is a major advancement in the world of data analysis. It combines advanced generative AI and is packed with features such as conversational natural language processing, intelligent suggestions, and automated data exploration. As a result, it allows both technical and non-technical users to create robust data models, auto-create Power BI reports, get meaningful insights, and derive value from their data.
As of now, there is no option on how to add Microsoft Copilot to Power BI. It is not yet available in the public preview, and the exact release date has not been announced yet. It is now being tested by a limited group of users who provide feedback to improve Copilot for Power BI.
Microsoft is probably doing their best to make Power BI Copilot available to a wider audience as soon as possible, but we still have to wait until the private preview phase is completed. Stay tuned!
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