The Power BI Embedded API continues to be a hot topic.
Organizations are looking to shift to self-service reporting models. Executives are looking to maximize the value of their tech spend. Product teams are looking to roll out best-in-class analytics. Not all (but lots) of roads are leading back to Power BI Embedded as a way to bring in-context analytics to a myriad of use cases.
We would be remiss not to mention that there are other ways to share and embed Power BI reports in Sharepoint—or publish a report publicly—but we are focusing on the Power BI Embedded analytics offering today.
Whichever reason brings you here, we are going to walk you through a few examples of how some of our customers are using Power BI Embedded and how we’re helping them quickly realize the value of leveraging Power BI as their white-labeled analytics interface.
What is Power BI Embedded?
Power BI Embedded is a Premium Power BI feature that enables you to take advantage of the Power BI Embedded API and embed the associated reports of a Power BI workspace within a web page or custom application.
A Microsoft Azure service, Power BI Embedded empowers you to share meaningful dashboards and reports with your customers or employees, wherever it makes the most sense for these users to consume data.
Power BI Embedded Benefits:
- Enables you to share Power BI content internally and externally, without requiring additional Power BI Pro licenses for report consumers.
- Allows you to define and manage user experience depending on audiences, such as companies and users.
- Ensures data is appropriately filtered based on user identity by allowing you to enable row-level security (RLS) if required.
- Provides a stable experience for end-users that does not change monthly or require monthly end-user training (Yes, Power BI updates that often!).
We also have to mention that Power BI Embedded Gen2 is currently in preview. Embedded Gen2 promises better scaling tools and features, improved performance, and easier access to paginated reports and AI features.
How it Works in Power BI
How it Works in Power BI Embedded
Power BI Embedded Example: Simplify and Stabilize Power BI User Experience
Microsoft wants PowerBI.com to be the central hub for your report consumers. Users need to have at least a baseline knowledge of Workspaces, Apps, Reports, and Dashboards—something we do entire trainings around at CSG Pro.
Additionally, many organizations have spent years guiding their employees to their intranet or portal. Adding another site just adds another layer of complexity for the user and the administrators.
Another benefit our customers are finding in using Power BI Embedded is that, when configured well, it provides a buffer between your data consumers and the onslaught of monthly Power BI updates.
While we love the updates, they often create friction in the short-term and require support for both casual and advanced users. Having a layer between Microsoft updates and your user empowers organizations to provide a more stable experience for their users.
We also found that organizations that leveraged custom navigation templates were able to make it much easier for their consumers to access relevant reports. No longer were consumers clicking from Power BI App to App to find “that one report.”
Power BI Embedded allows you to push the same reporting wherever you want your users to go, with the experience you want them to have.
- Reduces training time and costs.
- Increases adoption.
- Reduces ongoing internal user support.
- Easy-to-manage security.
- Flexible and customizable interface and navigation.
- Simplify end-user experience (only use what you need!.)
Power BI Embedded Example: Simplify Administration
Power BI Embedded is currently available as a premium feature. This means that all of your users will be able to consume reports without requiring Power BI Pro licenses. Report authors or builders will still need to have Power BI Pro licenses. But that is generally a much smaller subset of your organization.
Last year we focused on the benefit of managing fewer individual Power BI Pro licenses (less time spent justifying new licenses, reconciling long license lists, etc.). While this was true, we found that administration benefits extended well beyond just basic license administration.
We also found that organizations that managed roles and used navigation templates realized significant time-savings when adding new users. They were able to quickly identify what apps and workspaces a new consumer needed access to and run with it.
- Reduces administration support time.
- Reduces new user set-up time.
- Increases user experience (right capabilities for the right users).
Power BI Embedded Example: Self-Service Reporting for your SaaS Product
We all know somebody who has to churn out numerous, nearly identical reports for different users. Every month—or every week—this lucky human delivers the same updated Excel workbook or PDFs with charts. Some of us are those “lucky” humans.
Embedded analytics enables you to truly set up self-service reporting for your customers, strategic partners, or internal teams. Now you create one report using row-level security (RLS), which only allows data consumers to view reports on the data they have permission to see.
Some of our savvier, data-rich clients are even using this template as a way to monetize or productize the data they offer their clients.
- Increase revenue by monetizing access to the portal.
- Decrease reporting labor costs through automation.
- Extend visibility of operational data to strategic partners and customers.
- Implement security features to reduce the number of reports to maintain.
Optimize Power BI Licensing Spend
Microsoft’s Power BI licensing is confusing. Some might even say…intentionally so.
Whenever we present these slides, we invariably field the most questions when walking through licensing. For this table, we created an imaginary company of exactly 500 Power BI report consumers—with 25 Power BI report authors or builders. Then we ran them through a few different licensing scenarios.
Let’s take them one by one.
1. Power BI Pro (500 Pro Licenses)
If you’re a 500-person organization, don’t do this—unless your entire business model is dependent upon 100% of your workforce churning out reports. You also are not able to use Power BI Embedded analytics in this scenario. (Ironic, since you’re really deep into an article on embedded analytics to be considering this.)
We recommend that you take a hard look at the Azure A SKUs (coming up…) once you have 50-100 internal Pro licenses. If you’re looking to have external-facing reports, the business case might be there if you only have one Pro license.
2. Power BI Premium (P SKUs)
In this scenario, we’ve bought 25 pro licenses for our report authors and everyone else will be covered as report consumers under the P1 SKU. You can also start embedding analytics to your heart’s content.
If your organization is only vetting Power BI Premium to access embedded capabilities, there are likely more cost-efficient ways of getting that feature.
Having said that…there are an absolute wealth of reasons that organizations choose to go with Power BI Premium, from data science features to enabling larger datasets to using paginated reports (the list goes on). We dive into all general Power BI licensing questions in our Ultimate Power BI Licensing Guide.
If you’re only trying to access embedded capabilities, the challenge with the P SKUs is that you’re making a minimum annual commitment of $59,940 (or $4,995/mo). Your organization will also not have the flexibility to manage your cloud usage by pausing or turning off servers in non-peak times.
When your organization switches over to the Premium SKUs (P and A), you will also need to purchase a solution that will store metadata and nav templates (we typically use Azure SQL DB, but there are many other options). You will also need to purchase a service that will provide the app environment (again, we typically use Azure App Service but there are many options.
3. Power BI Premium (A SKUs)
If you’re only looking to add embedded capabilities, here’s where things get really interesting.
Using the Power BI Embedded A1 or A2 SKUs, we’re roughly at 25-40% of the cost of the other options (for reference, A4 is where the expense surpasses the P1 licensing cost). Where the P SKU was looking at ~$65k minimum spend, A1 and A2 are ~$15k and ~$24k maximum spends.
This is because the A SKUs are “pay-as-you-go.” You can shut down or pause the servers in non-peak times. Basically, you have the same embedding capability at a fraction of the price.
One of the great questions we always get asked right here is: How do I know how much capacity my organization will use? Alternative phrasings: Which A SKU does my company need? How do I plan and budget for this?
Our answer is that consumption depends on a lot of factors. Start with a POC to validate what you need, then test it, moving up or down as you learn.
As you can see, there are multiple use cases to take advantage of Power BI Embedded. Make sure you’re optimizing your spend and using these capabilities in a way that fully supports the unique goals of your organization.