AI + Power BI = Wow BI

I’m glad to inform my readers that Microsoft is adding new AI capabilities inside Power BI. And, these are no-code solutions.

Let’s check these 4 new exciting capabilities in detail and in the order of quick wins as per me.

In this post, I will explain uses cases with examples from multiple industries for each of the new capabilities coming in Power BI. This will be followed by a general approach to solve such problems, and then the new AI + Power BI approach to solve such problems.

Capability 1: Key Driver Analysis – or Key Influencer Analysis

Note: Per Microsoft this would be available to all Power BI users.

Suppose you have a dataset of employee attrition which includes details of the employees who are in the company, who left the company along with age, gender, salary, job role, satisfaction, education, years with current manager etc.

Your task is to find factors influencing attrition. Why are employees leaving the company? What segments of employees are leaving?

A general approach for answering such questions would be to use R or Python, fit a model (say using Random Forest algorithm) or use techniques like RFE (Recursive Feature Elimination) to find out top factors affecting our label – Attrition. More details on this general approach and how we did this using R and Power BI is mentioned in detail in our case study here.

With new AI capabilities in Power BI, this would be just a click away. The outcome of the analysis from Power BI would be shown as a kind of “lollipop” chart as shown below.

Image source: Microsoft

Example: When Parental encouragement is true, the probability of a student to plan to attend college increases by 1.8x,

Or, when the employee has spent more than 2 yrs with current manager and his job satisfaction is low then attrition increases by 2.3%

From the screenshot it is not clear how multiple driver analysis can be performed: Ex: When parental encouragement is true and Gender is male – what happens then? 

A contingency matrix would have helped in this case.

Capability 2: Azure Cognitive Capabilities – Sentiment Analysis, Image tagging, object detection in Power BI

Note: Per Microsoft this would be a Power BI Premium capability

You started a campaign on Twitter and would like to analyze your users sentiments – positive/negative.

For a call center company you would like to analyze chat script and identify key items customers are talking about right within your BI reports.

Or, an E-Commerce company would like to detect objects in the images attached with customer reviews, and identify which product/brand is causing negative sentiments or causing pulling “Andon Cord”.

A general approach would be to use Azure Cognitive APIs inside your Power BI report using Power Query (more about this later) using calls such as: Web.Contents(AzureAPICallWithParams).

Another general approach would be to develop and use custom Deep Learning models. A Twitter sentiment analysis (racial vs non-racial tweet) model was developed by us and is hosted in our GitHub repo.

With new AI capabilities in Power BI, this could be just a matter of invoking a function from Power BI ribbon. We do not know yet how this will be invoked by users. But, definitely this will make our BI reports comprehensive and improve decision making.

A snippet of such comprehensive report is attached below.

Image source: Microsoft

When this comes out in preview we will have to see if Microsoft has provided ability to not fire API calls for items already tagged/analyzed – otherwise you will have to pay for every API calls (even for repeats).

Capability 3: Automated Machine Learning models

Note: Per Microsoft this would be a Power BI Premium capability

Imagine in your Power BI report along side Sales Oppty data I provide you a confidence score or probability score against each Oppty data. The Oppty owner can look at this number and decide which Oppty are more likely to be won so he/she can then focus his/her efforts on top highly likely Oppty.

A general approach to add this would be a data scientist developing such models and a developer integrating it inside the Power BI report, and a business analyst consuming the report.

With new AI capability, Microsoft is targeting business analyst so they can build, train, and apply the models right within Power BI service without writing a single line of code. Isn’t that waow?

From the initial screenshots by Microsoft, it looks like this will be part of DataFlows (another new capability, which I will talk about in later posts)

Image source: Microsoft

When this feature is out in preview, we will have to see how easy will it be to do feature engineering – feature selection, normalization, pruning, binning etc. But, this is for sure going to ease out the effort in long term.

Capability 4: Use your existing Azure ML Models in Power BI

Note: Per Microsoft this would be available to all Power BI users.

This capability is more of easing out collaboration between a data scientist and a business analyst.

Typically a data scientist builds models in Azure ML platform and publishes the model as API endpoint. A data analyst or engineer uses that model endpoint to predict outcomes and populate the data inside the BI report. This BI report is then consumed by a business analyst.

In the new AI approach the models developed by data scientist would easily be searching in Power BI, and a new interface would be provided in Power BI to hook to that model and use it in reports.

There are no screenshots for this capability by Microsoft. 

—–

The public preview of these capabilities will be launched towards the end of Nov 2018.

We would evaluate these capabilities and posts about it when they arrive.

What thoughts you have on these capabilities? How are you going to use these capabilities?

Let us know.

Thank you,

Ranbeer Makin

References:

Power BI AI Capability Announcement

Power BI AI Capability Preview Signup Form

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