Power BI AI Visual Smart Narratives

Power BI has given us the following AI visuals:

  • Key influencers
  • Q&A Visualisation
  • Decomposition Tree

And now we also have smart narratives to work with. Many companies want to create report that includes text in regards to the report they are looking at to help the user understand the key takeaways. This usually involves someone manually adding in text to the reports.

Not great for interactive reports that update on a regular basis. this is where smart narratives come in. Smart narratives create the text in an interactive way for you.

If its good, it should eliminate the need to add in information manually for your users, which is a huge win.

Lets have a look at it in action on the Adventureworks Report

At the most basic level you can simply drag smart narratives into your report

Smart narratives describes your data to you. This is all really good information. what happens when I select a data point on the report like select 2011 in Sales amount and order quantity

The narrative updates to tell you about just 2011 so our smart narrative is even better, It updates with every click the user makes.

For my Top 10 Products table, I want a smart narrative that just gives me information on this visual and not every visual on the page so I right click on the visual and choose Summarize

And again, we are getting good information for that specific visual. You need to think whether the visual can tell this story on its own or if narrative would help. I tend to see smart narratives as something that sits on a page to tell a story across all the visuals.

Changing the Summary

This is great but there will be times when you do want specific information in your smart narrative. I am going to remove the smart narrative for the visual, and replace with one for the entire products report page.

Click on the smart narrative and then +Value to add a value

I want it to tell me how many items have been sold of top value products. the red line tells me that it doesn’t know what sold means and we need to define this item .

Click on Sold and then Define Sold

Here I go to Field Synonyms in the Q&A Setup to define a new synonym for order quantity because order quantity can be expressed as quantity sold. I have added quantity sold as this is what has been searched for.

Back in Teach Q&A I ask the question again

And this time it understands what I mean. I submit this to train the Q&A. and this time we find this specific query because its in Q&A. I can now format the question to get an answer for the smart narrative

After saving, the number simply appears in the smart narrative. I deleted it and moved the cursor to the beginning on the smart narrative. then I wrote.

The quantity sold of top value products is:

And then clicked review, found the item and + to insert item to place it exactly where I want it

from this I can see that I can use the Q&A tool to format questions that I can then add into the smart narrative, adding synonyms where necessary to create even more easy to understand questions.

Smart narratives and Q&A work perfectly together.

Power BI September 2020 Updates: Smart Narratives

We have been hearing so much about this, I am very excited for Smart narratives

Smart narratives offer insights into your visuals which are also customisable

Lets use the Adventureworks demo report to try it out

Because its still in preview you will need to turn it on in Options and settings > Options

Add Smart narratives to a visual

I have a report than contains a scatter chart. I always find these a bit difficult to read

You can right click on the visual and choose summarize and this will add a smart narrative for that specific visual

We can now immediately see that 2010 was our best year. we are also told what our best selling product was and our highest earning product.

If I click on a bar in the bar chart for year smart narratives doesn’t change. Neither does it change if I click on Europe in the treemap.

It does change if you select a point in the scatter chart

I have selected a point in 2014 which also cross filters the other two visuals.

The smart narrative is actually not that helpful now ‘2014 had the highest total sales’

this isn’t true. Because we have selected 2014 this shouldn’t really be in the text.

The smarter version would be to tell us which month had the highest sales in the calendar year but I only have year in the visual.

Add Smart narratives to a Report

Here is a report created earlier for Sales.

Select Smart narratives from visualisations

we now have some great insights into the report as a whole.

Again there is a problem when, for example you select a year. for 2009 we get

‘Sales Amount and Order Quantity diverged the most when the calendar year was 2009’ This isn’t actually true again, its simply because the selection of 2009 means smart narratives only has 2009 data to go on. I suspect this may need tweaking for the next release for users who are selecting data points

Edit Existing text

We wanted to know the maximum discount applied so a sentence was added to the end, then + Value was selected to add in the new value

You can also use Q&A to add information into the smart narrative

Here we want to add the year to the maximum discount

Each value has a name and we can now find that value and format it

In this instance its worth making sure you name your values properly so you can get back to them.

Here I set the Maximum discount to English pounds

We can also make our text bold

So far, really good, I cant wait to use this on reports. However some work needs to be done when a user selects a value on a visual because the narrative only works on the selected item and therefore assumes it the highest value.

It would also be great if the smart narrative set things in bold automatically like values and years

Other than that great start. it would be interesting to see how it does against other tools like Oracle and Tableau’s offering.

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