June 14, 2023

Microsoft Copilot for Power BI: Perks And Limitations


Soheil Bakhshi, Principal Consultant, Data and Insights


The recent announcement of Copilot’s integration with Power BI has developers and business owners stirred up and excited to start reaping the benefits. Powered by OpenAI’s Codex (a system that can generate code from natural language descriptions), Copilot runs off the same technology and is an impressive example of the power of artificial intelligence.

Copilot for Power BI is currently available in preview mode and has yet to be publicly released. As we eagerly await for that to happen, here’s what you should know.

[More information on Microsoft Fabric to come in a separate article: the new platform unifying Microsoft’s cloud services and products under one umbrella].

What is Copilot?

Copilot is an AI-powered tool that helps developers write better code, faster and easier, by suggesting code completion and documentation as they type. It also works as an extension for Visual Studio Code and GitHub Codespaces.

What it does for you:

  • It understands the context and intent of the code and then delivers relevant suggestions, translating your words into Power BI queries.
  • You can accept, reject, or modify the suggestions as you wish.
  • It can help you write code tests, implement new features, fix bugs, and learn new frameworks or languages.
  • It helps non-professional developers write DAX formulas (coding language): you don’t need to be an expert.
  • It’s easier to make changes to your data model using Copilot’s suggestions.
  • It’s easier to add visuals to reports.
  • You can generate code from plain English comments or queries, such as “Create a function that adds two numbers” or “How do I sort a list in Python?”.
  • You can create a complete report (in seconds) using natural language queries or comments. For example, “Show me the sales by region and product category” or “Create a pie chart of customer satisfaction ratings”. You may have already tested these natural language features using the Smart Narrative visual tool or the Auto-create report feature in Power BI. But with Copilot, you can ask enhanced questions such as: “Create a report to show sales by region and top 10 best-selling products”.

Things to Consider: Limitations of Copilot

1. Copilot in Power BI is not a replacement for human intelligence or creativity

Copilot is a tool that can assist you with your data tasks but cannot guarantee the accuracy or quality of the code or insights it generates. You should always review and verify the suggestions from Copilot before using them in your projects. The human brain is required to solve more complex or very specific challenges, especially when working on larger data models with many active, inactive, regular, and limited relationships. Therefore, we need to set our expectations.

2. Copilot in Power BI is not a substitute for learning or understanding the concepts and languages behind Power BI

Before using Copilot, you should still have a basic knowledge of DAX (coding language), data modelling, and Power BI features. Copilot can help you learn new things or improve your skills by providing examples and explanations for its suggestions. But I strongly suggest you seek credible blogs, watch tutorial videos on YouTube and read books for a baseline understanding. On the latter, here are some resources below you may find helpful:

And if you want to stay ahead with Power BI, speak to us about team training options. Virtual and in-person training will keep you fully updated with the latest features, methodologies and tips.

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