Options for Distributing Power BI Reports Externally

By - July 27, 2020

Data analytics and insights are crucial for making good business decisions in today’s world. With today’s modern BI tools, organizations can expand sharing reports and dashboards externally with customers, vendors, and other organizations. Whether you want to publish your visuals to a website, providing full access to the public domain, or to a web application with private/privileged access, Power BI allows for different ways of report distribution based on your desired use case.

Publish to Web

The first option is to publically publish your reports to the web, including blog posts, websites, emails, or social media. Using this option, you are able to easily create, edit, and refresh reports that do not contain sensitive data and are meant for wide distribution. While you need to have one Power BI Pro license to publish reports to the web, your viewers do not have to, making it free to view.

However, free access also comes with security warnings. When you use Publish to Web, there is no authentication feature, meaning anyone on the internet can view the reports and visuals. Before publishing these, make sure you are able to share the data publicly. Users won’t be able to edit the report, but they will see the report, and the report will be fully interactive for them so they can highlight items, select slicers, and drill down.

Managing the reports and its updates are relatively easy. The first time you publish the report to the web, a web embed code will be created. If any changes to the report are made, it will automatically update with any changes. The embed code is active upon creation, but reports or visuals may take a couple hours before becoming visible to users. The embed code also allows you to edit or remove a report later if you wish to.

Visit Microsoft for further information and step by step instructions on setting up.

Embedding Power BI Reports using an iFrame

Publish to the web is entirely different from embedding in Power BI, and these methods should not be considered the same. Embedding reports and visuals allow for more secure access to your organization’s reports and visuals, but there are two ways of accomplishing this.

The first method of embedding Power BI reports or visuals is by using an iFrame embedded into an internal web portal. These internal portals can be cloud-based or hosted on-premises. Embedded reports will follow all item permissions and data security through row-level security, meaning users will be required to sign in every time, proving their identity. This method is a good option when the embedded report needs to be shared securely with tracked users in an Active Directory. This also means the users must have Power BI Pro licenses or Power BI Premium through your organization. In the Power BI service, you can share embedded reports with users requiring access. If you’re using a Microsoft 365 Group, you can list the user as a workspace member.

Visit Microsoft for further information and step by step instructions on setting up.

Embedding Power BI Reports using Power BI Embedded

The second option is Power BI Embedded in Azure or Power BI Embedded in Office.  It uses PowerShell and REST API calls, embedding reports, dashboards, or tiles into an application using the application’s own data. This option is more secure than publishing to the web; however, because it doesn’t require sign-on, there are certain Power BI feature not available and tracking who is using the report is not possible. Only one Pro license is required and the rest of the cost is based on the subscription used to back it up. This is usually a good option when the report needs to be securely shared with a large audience.

Visit Microsoft for further information and step by step instructions on setting up.

Managing and sharing data in an organization increases the ways it is analyzed as well as increases its value. The same data set can provide different insights for different people across several departments, and that knowledge is power.

To learn more about how RSM can support your advanced analytics and reporting needs, please visit our website, call 800-274-3978, or email us.

Lindsey is a Supervisor in RSM’s technology consulting practice. She specializes in helping clients with data governance, strategy, and analytics while undergoing ERP, HCM, and CRM implementations. With her background in business information systems and data analytics, she takes on the role of a technical and functional consultant in project implementation teams. While working at RSM, she has assisted with several business intelligence assessments and implementations for clients in healthcare, consumer products, the federal government, and financial service industries. This included creating a data strategy and governance plan, defining business requirements, engaging stakeholders, data profiling, and designing data models for effective long-term reporting. Her main focuses include data strategy, governance, and front-end reporting. Her skill set includes Power BI, Tableau, SSMS, Azure Analysis Services, DAX language, D365 CE, and D365 F&O. Before joining RSM, Lindsey took several courses on and/or has prior experience with project management (Microsoft Projects & JIRA), database design, and database implementation.

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