Microsoft breaks through in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms

Get ready for SQL Saturday!

What is SQL Saturday Sydney Feb 2016?

SQL Saturday Sydney is a free training event hosted by PASS (the Professional Association of SQL Server) which includes a collection of high-quality seminars and sessions on SQL Server as well as Microsoft’s latest data technologies. This year the Agile BI team are proud to be delivering two presentations and also being a Gold Sponsor.

Why should I come to SQL Saturday Sydney Feb 2017?

If you could only come to one SQL Saturday, this should be THE ONE. Presenters include;

  • Marco Russo: MVP Italy A.K.A Mr Power BI
  • Iman Eftekhari, Agile BI Director
  • Matt Allington, Microsoft MVP, Excelerator BI
  • 10+ international speakers
  • Five different tracks
  • 20+ sessions

Check out full details and register at the official site!


Power BI PowerPoint Integration Arrives (ish)

Power BI has been on a roll recently, releasing a bunch of features that have overall strengthened Microsoft’s self-service business intelligence offering. It’s spiritual predecessor PowerView had a nice integration with PowerPoint. Now Power BI PowerPoint integration has arrived.

In the September update, we received a big upgrade to Power BI’s mapping capabilities through the introduction of ArcGIS maps. There has also been continued development around R integration within Power BI to better support the needs of customers requiring advanced analytics. You can now even connect to your preferred R IDE when developing R-based custom visuals or run an R script over your dirty data to impute missing values.

Power BI PowerPoint integration

n the last couple of days, Power BI has quietly released a feature that I personally think will get everyone excited and appeal to the masses – the ability to publish Power BI reports to PowerPoint with the click of a button! So lets get started on how you can find and use this new feature.

Open up a report in Power BI Online and click “File”. You will then see the screen below. Click the “Export to PowerPoint (Preview)” button to generate a PowerPoint file. It will contain a slide for each Power BI report page as well as a title slide containing information on when the data was last refreshed and the file downloaded.

Power BI PowerPoint Publishing

Power BI PowerPoint Publishing

Unfortunately, as you can see in the screenshot below, the end result is not what I expected. I would have liked to have seen a fully interactive experience that included the ability to use cross-highlighting/cross-filtering. It appears, for now at least, that the feature has fallen short of my expectations.

Power BI PowerPoint Publishing

Power BI PowerPoint Publishing

That being said, there are a few caveats, the first and biggest one is that this feature is in preview. We know from past experiences that Microsoft has been happy to ship features to Power BI that aren’t fully ready in the hope that they can leverage feedback from the community sooner rather than later. A recent notification from the Power BI team confirmed that this will be the case.


The second caveat is that in this demonstration we have used some Agile BI magic behind the scenes which probably has caused some headaches for Power BI’s cookie cutter Power BI PowerPoint feature. I tested this hypothesis by exporting a more simplistic Power BI report and I’ll be honest, I was impressed with the results.

The moral of the story, keep it simple for now.


This feature will eventually end up becoming a main selling point of Power BI over its competitors, but it still has a long way to go.

I’ve found with some things in Power BI you just have to be patient. In 2-4 months time, this feature will be generally released and I’m going to assume that this feature will end up being a lot closer to our current expectations. To put things in perspective, it has been less than a year and a half since the launch of Power BI and it has already become one of the leaders in the self-service BI market according to Gartner. In my opinion, one of the reasons that people see strength in Power BI is that they know it will continue to grow and develop faster than any other self-service product. I hope it continues as it’ll mean we’ll be seeing more new and improved features like this one coming to Power BI soon.

Power BI Maps takes a leap in September update

The September Power BI update is here and Power BI Maps have got a serious set of improvements. Mapping beforehand was … ok. Points and circles, pretty much like PowerView in Excel – it served a purpose, albeit a basic one. Now in the preview features there’s a new Shape Map (which replaces the Synoptic Panel in some circumstances) and even more Geospatially exciting ArcGIS Maps.

I’m excited! Let’s dig in…

Power BI Maps – Shape Map

Shape Maps are a variation on a map that assigns an ID to a region on a map – a number of baked in maps are provided – standard geographical maps are included – and you can then assign a number to that ID. Like below, I’ve just assigned some numbers to the States on a map of our lovely country:

Power BI Maps - Shape Map

Power BI Maps – Shape Map

Now, where this gets interesting is you can create your own shape maps as long as they are in the TopoJSON format. So if you want to map out your own space, such as a store – like in our partner showcase – you can create your own shape file, add keys to it and visualise it in Power BI Maps. This is a great feature for simple heatmaps and being able to build truly personalised data visualisations.


Power BI Maps – ArcGIS Maps

This is the industrial version of the existing map capability. Using ESRI maps you can create heatmaps, point maps, clusters, all driven by geospatial coordinates. I’m not going to get too deep on the technical side, but suffice to say beautiful mapping is well and truly here:

Power BI Maps - ArcGIS Maps

Power BI Maps – ArcGIS Maps

There’s a good source of fun data here if you want to play – just remember in the data model to tag the columns Data Category as Lat / Long as appropriate otherwise the mapping won’t work.

This update brings also reference layers which add secondary data such as populations, map based selection of points to apply filters to the rest of the report and a heap of other features – Power BI Maps have taken a big leap this update!

AgileBI becomes a Sponsor of the Yarra Foundation!

Agile BI is proud to announce its sponsorship of the Yarra Foundation!


We believe that all children should have access to education, without limits or restrictions. Yarra Foundation makes education a reality for street children, child refugees, and mentally or physically disabled children with limited or no access to education in Iran.

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“I could not have succeeded in my career without the education I received, and I benefited from such a great education purely because I happened to be born in the right country. I’m touched to be able to extend this fundamental opportunity to kids to whom it will make such a great difference to.”

– James Beresford, Director of Agile BI

Born in Yarra River, Melbourne, this foundation is doing awesome work to help some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children escape the trap of illiteracy and poverty by giving them an opportunity to access education.

For enquiries about how your company or institution could partner with Yarra Foundation contact them via email at today.

Read more about Yarra Foundation History.

Education changes lives!

Follow Yarra Foundation here:

Top 3 Reviews SQL Server 2016

The waiting is over!!

On the beginning of last month SQL 2016 was finally released.

Surprisingly with an extensive list of new features and major enhancements related to business intelligence. The most exciting of which is a long overdue overhaul of Reporting Services!


So… What’s new?

Top 3 Reviews

  1. Key new technologies in the database engine including AlwaysEncrypted, AlwaysOn Availability Groups, Temporal tables and lastly let’s you expand databased to the cloud through Stretch Database.
  1. New features for Reporting Services and Power BI. Popular SSRS has a number of enhancements including web portal and mobile reports, integration with Power BI and new report themes to make you visualize data in a sexier dynamic way.
  1. Integration Services (SSIS) now supports previous versions! New features include data management in the Enterprise ETL tool SSIS and the Master Data toolkit MDS. Also improved performance for modelling in SSAS Tabular as the product hits v2.0.

Want to stay up to date?

Come to our SQL 2016 Jumpstart session on the 22nd July and we introduce you through the key changes. Learn with industry experts Iman Eftekhari, Victor Isakov and James Bereford!

Make sure to secure your spot now!

Register here:

Let us know if you need more information!

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Gartner Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms Magic Quadrant positions Microsoft as a leader

Sydney BI User Group December Session

Sydney BI User Group – December Meet Up: “Implementing Row Level Security using DAX”

Jixin Jia is impressing people with his awesome demo and DAX skills at Sydney BI User Group.

Jixin Jia presenting awesome demos and DAX skills at Sydney BI User Group

Thank you everyone for coming to the last Sydney BI User Group session in 2015!

I hope you all enjoyed Jixin Jia’s (Gin) and Iman Eftekhari’s presentation about “Implementing Row Level Security using DAX”.

Please find here the online presentation and here the demo files. (Password: AgileBI2015)

For additional DAX training with famous Marco Russo or our other training sessions follow the link.



Do you remember the Sinclair ZX Spectrum?

The Sinclair ZX Spectrum, favorite 80s toys for Agile BI director and e book author James Beresford.

The Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Read in his interview with Syncfusion how he developed his technology skills with the family’s first household computer and what his recommendations to people interested in PowerPivot or HDInsight are.

Read the interview here!