Microsoft just launched the public preview of its Power BI integration with Cortana and it sounds exciting.  

The company wants businesses to use Cortana in conjunction with the Cortana Analytics Suite when they need to solve huge business problems.

Announced in July, the Cortana Analytics Suite (CAS) includes Power BI and a number of Azure services such as speech and text analytics and machine learning. With the announced integration, Microsoft's virtual personal assistant will now be able to handle business questions and gather answers from key business data.

"By utilizing Power BI's data visualization capabilities, Cortana can provide you with answers ranging from simple numerical values (revenue for the last quarter), charts (number of opportunities by team), maps (average customer spending in California by city) or even complete reports from Power BI," said Marcus Ash, Cortana group program manager.

In order to get started with the features offered by the integration, administrators will have to choose a data source in Power BI which is similar to an SQL Server database. Next, Cortana needs to gain access to the data set. Once this is accomplished, Cortana is ready to pull information from the data as long as the user has an access to it in Power BI.

Microsoft said that the Power BI and Cortana integration, when used together with the Cortana Analytics Suite, is an effective way of enhancing enterprise productivity. It should be noted however that CAS is not essential when accessing Power BI insights using Cortana.

Apart from the Cortana integration, Power BI also got new feature known as Quick Insights. It is designed to give users an easy look at some data that they find interesting by running a number of algorithms against the system gathered data. Users can pin a piece of information they like into an analytics dashboard found inside Power BI, which allows them to keep track of the information.

"Power BI's new Quick Insights feature allows you to run a variety of analytical algorithms on your data to search for potential insights with the click of a mouse," said Patrick Baumgartner, Power BI's principal program manager, in a blog post.

When trying the new tool, users can first select "Quick Insights" for a dataset that is already uploaded in Power BI. The search for data may then take around 12 seconds before the system finds subsets of information that may seem interesting to the user. Users can then browse and save potential insights according to their liking.

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