More New Features for Microsoft Fabric as it approaches Go-Live

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Tuesday November 7th 2023

Microsoft Fabric is close to becoming the place where we will all do our data work for the next few years, and where a large number of businesses will make their first serious forays into running their business analytics, Machine Learning models, and into AI.

The product is approaching its General Availability date, and Microsoft are adding features at an impressive rate.  While a lot of these innovations are very technical, it is Comset’s view that the impact of this product on all our businesses will be significant; at least for anyone that would benefit from making better use of their data to support their decision-making strategies.

The October Fabric blog gives a long list of new features and enhancements, we’ll pick a few of Comset’s highlights for our more technical readers.

New Features

1. “Data Activator” is now in public preview

Data Activator is a new experience in Microsoft Fabric, allowing you to set alerts on streaming data, and trigger events from that.  So for example you might monitor incoming social reviews and alert your PR team when there’s a bad one, or monitor freezer temperatures and alert maintenance if one gets too high.  Data Activator has gone into public preview which means that you and I can try it for ourselves.

2. Edit your data model in the Power BI service

You can’t build high quality reports or ML models without first modelling your data correctly, but until now most of this has happened in the Power BI desktop application.   Modelling features began to appear in the web-based “Power BI service” earlier this year, in October these have evolved again based on user feedback.

3.      New visuals from third party suppliers

Microsoft have provisioned an AppSource marketplace for third party suppliers to add Fabric components and visuals, and there’s now a lot of valuable features appearing there.  Two that we like include:

a.      A nice visual is the “Drill down Network” by Zoomcharts.  It allows you to display a visual network of inter-related categories based on your data, and interactively drill down into different areas as you navigate through the relationships.   Its an attractive visual control with a very rich interface, they quote these business-cases as potential uses:

  • Accounting and Finance – exploring cost structure by showing the attribution to project or department
  • Human Resources – analyzing salary data by department, seniority and office
  • Production – mapping production volumes by product, factory, production line and line manager
  • Sales & Marketing – visualizing marketing campaigns by type, medium, cost, profit, and manager
Drill down network control example
“Drill down Network”

b. Another nice third-party feature is “write-back”. It exists natively in Power BI but in a simple form, which is enhanced in this extension by InfoRiver.  The point of Write-back is to increase collaboration around a report, and report editors can control whether end users are able to write-back data including

  • Comments on reports
  • Custom filters to share with the rest of the organization
  • Update actual data, for example sales goals which can then update other visuals on a report

One thing that InfoRiver have added is the ability to write back to different data destinations, so for technical reasons you could record your written back data to a SQL database, an Excel spreadsheet, a Snowflake instance or even to flat files.

4. OneLake enhancements

Right at the heart of Fabric is “OneLake” – allowing you to relatively easily bring all your data into one place, and reduce the massive amount of time that your IT department probably spend on “plumbing” and integrations.   There are more new features in OneLake, including a Data Hub and explorer to make it easy to find the right data.  There’s also features to “favourite” your best quality data, helping organizational reports to be more consistent and reliable.

General Availability approaches

You can see that Microsoft are working on a lot of detailed items, the whole Fabric product becoming mature and approaching its General Availability date.  The rest of the long list of new features can be seen on the Microsoft Fabric October 2023 Blog but for now all our technical teams have a lot more promising features to evaluate.

https://blog.fabric.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/microsoft-fabric-october-2023-update-2/

Feel free to contact us at Comset if you’ve any questions about this impressive new product, or more generally making best use of your organizational data.