The Good And Bad Of Dataflows

Teo Lachev gives us the lowdown on Dataflows in Power BI:

There is a lot to like about dataflows. I can think of two primary self-service scenarios that can benefit from dataflows:

  • Data staging – Many organizations implement operational data stores (ODS) and staging databases before the data is processed and loaded in a data warehouse. As a business user, you can use data-flows for a similar purpose. For example, one of our clients is a large insurance company that uses Microsoft Dynamics 365 for customer relationship management. Various data analysts create data models from the same CRM data, but they find that refreshing the CRM data is time consuming. Instead, they can create a dataflow to stage some CRM entities before importing them in Power BI Desktop. Even better, you could import the staged CRM data into a single dataset or in an organizational semantic model to multiple data copies and duplicating business logic.

  • Certified datasets – One way to improve data quality and promote better self-service BI is to prepare a set of certified common entities, such as Organization, Product, and Vendor. A data steward can be responsible for designing and managing these entities. Once in place, data analysts can import the certified entities in their data models.

Read on for some more positives and negatives.

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