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The Microsoft Data Insights Summit 2017 is well underway and there have already been a number of important announcements and keynote speeches.


Keynote Speeches

The day started early in Seattle, with an 8am keynote speech from Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President James Phillips. He revealed that Power BI is now the most popular non-email service within the corridors of Microsoft itself and said it had “grown like wildfire” within the company.


"It's, by far, the most widely-used service that we use inside the company other than Office 365 email. Everyone is using Power BI to run their businesses,” he said.


Author, journalist, data visualisation professor and Knight Chair at the University of Miami Alberto Cairo closed the day with his own keynote, in which he talked about data visualisations. He proposed that ‘graphicacy’ – the ability to use graphics to communicate and interpret data – should be given as much educational weight as literacy, articulacy and numeracy.


Key Announcements


The biggest announcement delivered by Phillips was undoubtedly the news regarding the general availability of Power BI Premium. First announced at the start of May, the Premium service allows an organisation to distribute reports both internally and externally, without requiring each recipient to be individually licensed. Power BI Premium will also bring Power BI Embed into the service.


In a related announcement, Phillips said that the Power BI Report Server will be made generally available as part of the Power BI Premium package.


Other announcements and demonstrations were delivered by members of the Power BI team. Updates and upcoming features that were showcased included the ability to integrate Visio visuals into your Power BI report. If you create these visuals with IDs you can also map these to your data, allowing you to interact with them in the same way as other visuals in your report canvas.


A timeline custom visual, quick insights and the ability to drill down through pages were among the other highlights. It was announced that ArcGIS Maps for Power BI is now generally available and the Power BI Desktop June update also got its release.


Workshops and sessions

Beyond the keynote speeches and headline announcements, there were also more than 40 sessions and numerous workshops for attendees. These included sessions on ‘Working with Parameters and Functions in Power Query/Excel and Power BI’, ‘DAX ‘50’: DAX for the rest of us!’, ‘Take Power BI Visualization to the Next Level’ and ‘Live Data Streaming in Power BI’


And introducing…the Datanauts!

Finally, for a bit of fun, summit attendees were invited to take part in an augmented reality, app-enabled scavenger hunt featuring Microsoft’s product-inspired superheroes the Datanauts. Participants had to scan posters of the characters (and their enemies the Byters). Every scan earned points that could then be redeemed for a spin on the virtual prize wheel.

There’s more to come from Day 2 but for now, that’s an overview of the key events from the Data Insights Summit 2017.