AWS Business Intelligence Blog

Amazon QuickSight: 2023 year in review

As 2023 comes to a close, we at the Amazon QuickSight team wanted to provide you with a summary of all that’s new in the product. Over the course of the year, we built capabilities that make data and insights more accessible to business users than ever before. From Amazon Q in QuickSight, which lets business users ask questions of your data and build generative data stories to share insights, to a new dashboard authoring experience for analysts, QuickSight lets business teams easily find insights and share them quickly. We also added features for administrators, such as trusted identity propagation across QuickSight and Amazon Redshift to provide end-to-end governance, and made it even more straightforward for developers to incorporate QuickSight into their software development processes by launching extractable file packages for dashboards and datasets. We are also excited about all this momentum being recognized with QuickSight moving to Challenger in the 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence (ABI) Platforms, and to Strong Performer in the 2023 Forrester Wave for Augmented Business Intelligence Platforms. We had the opportunity to share some of this excitement at AWS re:Invent this year, where we had the privilege of speaking alongside speakers from BMW, GoDaddy, Huron Consulting Group, Honeywell, TopGolf, Extensiv, 3M, Bloomberg, and JP Morgan Chase. There’s a lot packed in this post—we hope you find it useful!

2023 marked a turning point in business intelligence (BI) with customers across industries searching for ways to apply generative AI to become more data driven. At the same time, the growing base of QuickSight customers were looking for fast ways to scale up access to data insights for workloads across the organization on more and larger data sources. So we focused deeply on integrating AI to bring you more value from your data and unlock new levels of connectivity, performance, and visualization capability to enable a broad range of use cases. With over 80 new capabilities delivered in 2023, we continue to innovate rapidly, enabling you to get access to data and insights when and where needed to inform business decisions.

Generative BI with Amazon Q in QuickSight

Building our on investments in Amazon QuickSight Q since 2020, we announced Amazon Q in QuickSight at re:Invent 2023. Amazon Q is a new generative AI-powered assistant that makes you more productive at work, and with Amazon Q in QuickSight, we’ve focused on making business analysts more productive and on empowering business users with powerful capabilities at your fingertips.

Amazon Q in QuickSight provides business analysts an accelerated authoring experience to quickly create dashboards, and enables business users to build stories explaining findings from data that can be shared with teams to drive decisions, executive summaries to quickly see key insights in dashboards, and a humanistic Q&A experience to confidently ask and answer questions of data not available in your dashboards and reports.

Business analysts can build dashboards faster than ever before with Amazon Q, with the ability to build visualizations in seconds, build complex calculations without having to look up or learn any syntax, and refine visuals by asking for the desired changes, all in simple natural language.

Amazon Q in QuickSight allows business users to quickly understand their data by providing natural language summaries of their dashboards in seconds, highlighting top and bottom movers as well as outliers in data. When a user wants to ask questions of data, Amazon Q offers a humanistic Q&A experience to confidently ask and answer questions of data not available in your dashboards and reports. This experience provides a multi-visual experience, which offers not just an answer to a question, but also related information and alternative question patterns, allowing business users to explore related information. With this experience, Amazon Q transforms the way business teams work—no more waiting for weeks to get a response from a backlogged BI team; simply ask the question in natural language and get a response in seconds. There’s no more dashboard sprawl either—BI teams are free to set up dashboards for the most-used metrics and allow business users to ask additional questions of Amazon Q to get responses instantly.

The last and probably most exciting generative BI capability is data storytelling. Data stories are a new type of QuickSight content similar to documents or slides, enabling business users to create and share narratives with a team to inform decisions. By using generative AI, Amazon Q allows business users to build stories instantly from data including visuals, calling out key insights and recommending strategies to improve the business.

Boosting analyst productivity

Business analysts are typically authors in QuickSight, responsible for producing analytical content that is consumed by business users (readers). Leading into re:Invent this year, we introduced a redesigned analysis experience to make dashboard authoring workflows more intuitive, scalable, and efficient. The experience is visually anchored by a new three-pane layout that supports a left to right workflow in which authors are able to quickly add fields from the first pane to visualization field wells in the second pane, and then set properties on your visualizations from the third pane. This enables you to keep your content center stage while making refinements and adding additional visualizations.

For more information, refer to Amazon QuickSight launches a new redesigned analysis experience and Introducing new analysis experience on Amazon QuickSight.

Additionally, we also introduced customer week start and time zone support to make it straightforward for dashboard authors to customize dashboards for their regional conventions. With the custom week start option, authors can now specify the first day of the week to align with their desired calendar, allowing flexibility beyond the default week start of Sunday. With the custom time zone option, QuickSight authors can set a desired time zone, after which QuickSight will seamlessly convert all time-aware visual dimensions, aggregated measures, calculated fields, filters, and parameters to the chosen time zone. Daylight Savings Time (DST) adjustments are applied automatically to eliminate the need for time-consuming workarounds that don’t accurately handle historical dates.

The custom totals feature in tables and pivot tables allow authors to specify calculations such as Sum, Average, Min, Max, and None (Hide) from a predefined list to compute totals in table and pivot table charts with a one-click option, removing the need for intricate calculations.

The QuickSight integration with Amazon SageMaker Canvas allows business analysts to effortlessly send data from a table in QuickSight to SageMaker Canvas to create machine learning (ML) models, and then send these models back to QuickSight without any heavy lifting in terms of permissions, data pipelines, or manual copying.

Lastly, dataset parameters allow data teams to use existing, certified SQL statements in QuickSight, and pass parameters directly from the dashboard to populate data when needed.

Breadth of data visualization

We’ve invested in data visualization options ranging from tables and pivot tables to maps and charts, so that business users can consume data in the ways they are most familiar with. Tabular representations of data in the form of tables and pivot tables are core components of any dashboard when users need to display and retrieve precise numerical values to report status. In 2023, we introduced several enhancements to support users working with tables and pivot tables:

  • Freeze panes – Authors and readers can now freeze one or more columns in a table to keep them in view as they scroll horizontally to reveal additional columns and metrics.

  • Data bars – Authors can now add data bars on a per-column basis in QuickSight. Data bars make it straightforward to compare values within each column.

  • Hierarchy layout for pivot tables – For pivot tables, we also introduced a compact, hierarchical layout option that conserves space by expanding members in place, instead of introducing new columns.

  • Geospatial heatmaps – We introduced heatmaps in QuickSight this year. Heatmaps help you see where events or entities of interest are concentrated by using a colored overlay that highlights intensity or concentration of markers.

  • Radar chartsRadar charts provide a way to compare multivariate data by plotting one or more groups of values over multiple common dimensions. You can also choose from different series styles (filled or line), start angle, and fill areas.

  • Field-based coloring experience – QuickSight now offers a field-based coloring experience, which allows authors to assign a color to a specific value and keep that consistent throughout the dashboard. For instance, if the country name of USA is assigned blue, all charts with USA – whether pie, line, bar, or other, will present USA in blue.

  • New layouts and sparklines for KPIs – We introduced a range of exciting enhancements to KPI visuals, including templated KPI layouts, support for sparklines, improvements in conditional formatting, and a revamped format pane.

Paginated reporting

QuickSight now offers the following enhancements in paginated reporting:

  • Snapshot Export API – Developers can now use the new API capabilities to programmatically export paginated PDFs, Excel and CSV, content. With these new APIs, you can export and customize content by passing parameters and session tags for anonymous users. Optionally, as part of the API call, you can specify your own Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) destination to where the content should be exported. As a result, you can now export content from QuickSight programmatically, storing the generated content in your S3 bucket, from where you can distribute to your end recipients when and how they need the information.
  • Scheduled and programmatic Excel exports – Authors can now schedule the generation of Excel workbooks by selecting multiple tables and pivot table visuals from any sheet of a dashboard. This export feature preserves key formats like number, currency, column width, header bold, and more. Additionally, if multiple tables and pivot table visuals are selected, they are exported as separate sheets of a single Excel workbook. The Snapshot Export APIs now support the programmatic export to Excel format, in addition to the paginated PDF and CSV formats.

Data connectivity

With QuickSight, you can connect to many different data sources, and either ingest the data into the QuickSight Super-fast, Parallel, In-memory Calculation Engine (SPICE) or query the data directly where it resides in databases. In 2023, we added the following new connectivity options that support both SPICE and direct query:

  • Trino – Trino is a massively parallel processing (MPP) query engine built to query petabyte-scale data lakes, fast.
  • Starburst – The native Starburst data connector supports connectivity to Starburst Enterprise for on-premises instances and Starburst Galaxy for managed instances. Starburst is a full-featured data lake analytics service built on top of the MPP query engine Trino.

In addition, we partnered with Google to bring support for Google Cloud BigQuery. You can directly select your Google BigQuery tables or use the custom SQL option to perform advanced analyses in QuickSight using its ML capabilities like anomaly detection, forecasting, and natural language querying.

SPICE and query experience

The following are new features of our enhanced SPICE and direct query experience:

  • SPICE ingestion and query performance improvement – In 2023, QuickSight improved its overall performance for users to enjoy a seamless data journey:
    • With the new SPICE parallel ingestion capability, you can anticipate a noticeable improvement, with an overall reduction in ingestion time of up to 75%, or a four-times improvement in performance.
    • We launched Common Sub-expression Elimination (CSE), which improves the QuickSight user experience through pushing down repeated use of complex expressions into intermediate tables. This simplifies complex queries, such as for totals and subtotals, top and bottom filters, conditional formatting, and an “others” bucket for charts.
    • We also launched several calculation and visual query optimizations, which offer faster-loading dashboards, especially for functions such as level-aware calculation functions, period functions, and visuals such as KPI, histogram, pivot tables, and tables.
  • New SPICE FLOAT data type – QuickSight SPICE now supports FLOAT, a floating-point numeric data type. The new FLOAT data type provides approximately 16 significant digits of accuracy. These significant digits can be on either side of the decimal point, thereby allowing numbers with more accuracy as well as larger range. If you’re working with very small numbers (close to zero), you can use approximately 15 digits to the right of the decimal point. This helps avoid the problem of truncation and is consistent with other products’ results. SPICE has added this data type without sacrificing performance, so you can continue to experience the same super-fast performance you’ve come to expect.
  • Auto-purchase SPICE capacity – In 2023, we launched the SPICE capacity auto-purchase feature, offering an improved solution for the automatic management of SPICE capacity. Previously, you had to manually purchase SPICE capacity, and insufficient capacity could lead to data ingestion failures, hindering the intended use of QuickSight. Now, you can effortlessly opt in to the capacity auto-purchase with just one click. This new SPICE auto-purchase capability eliminates the need for you to estimate usage and manually purchase SPICE capacity each time. Instead, you can seamlessly ingest data and use SPICE worry-free, because QuickSight will automatically acquire the necessary capacity to meet your usage requirements.
  • Data ingestion APIs – We launched two sets of data ingestion APIs – Ingestion Schedule APIs and Incremental Refresh Configuration APIs. Before enabling the APIs, you have to set up your ingestion refresh schedule and lookback window via the QuickSight console manually. The new suite of APIs allows you to define your refresh schedule and incremental refresh configuration programmatically, thereby helping developers automate and integrate seamlessly. The APIs will also speed up the migration to QuickSight from other BI tools.

Administration and governance

QuickSight now offers improvements in administration and governance:

  • AWS IAM Identity Center – QuickSight is now an AWS IAM Identity Center enabled application. This capability allows administrators that subscribe to QuickSight to use IAM Identity Center to enable their users to log in using supported identity providers including Microsoft Entra ID, Okta, and Ping Identity. Although QuickSight has always supported single sign-on from such identity providers through AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), the IAM Identity Center integration natively brings in user groups from the identity system, so there is no need to create and manage standalone groups in QuickSight, or to create separate rules and configuration for a seamless authentication experience for end-users. To explore this further, refer to the following resources:
  • Trusted identity propagation with IAM Identity Center – Organizations can manage and audit access to Redshift data based on the user’s identity with trusted identity propagation. The user identity of the dashboard user is propagated to Amazon Redshift. Data access controls, including row- and column-level security, are centrally defined in Redshift with identity provider groups and users and automatically applied to all users in QuickSight. This makes it seamless for authors to access data from Redshift without any passwords needed, for permissions to be centralized in Redshift, while also enabling end-to-end access audit capabilities for administrators.
  • Custom permissions support for roles – QuickSight offers custom permissions support for roles to restrict QuickSight functionality for users based on their role in the account (reader, author, or admin). This feature is supported with all QuickSight identity types, including IAM Identity Center. Administrators can address various account-level governance requirements with this new feature. For example, you can remove the ability to create data sources and datasets for authors in the account if administrators are the only users that should be allowed to create these asset types.
  • Shared restricted folders and a folder contributor role to govern asset sharing – QuickSight provides shared restricted folders, a contributor role, and support for data source asset types in folders. These capabilities enable governed QuickSight asset sharing at the folder level. Restricted folders are a new type of shared folder that restrict assets from being removed from the folder. When used in combination with the contributor role, this feature set disables asset sharing by applying the contributor role to all assets that authors create in the restricted folder. Data sources can now inherit permissions from a shared folder, which enables centralized management of permissions for all asset types. A folder contributor can create, edit, and delete assets in a shared folder like an owner, but they can’t delete the folder or modify permissions on the folder or on assets where they inherit contributor access. The contributor role can be assigned to a QuickSight user or group on a shared folder.
  • Tagging users for cost allocation – Administrators can tag users and use AWS cost allocation tags to categorize and allocate user based costs by team, department, or application.
  • Cost insights integration – At re:Invent, we announced a new feature: a managed experience for provisioning the Cost and Usage Dashboard from the AWS Billing and Cost Management console. This dashboard includes pre-built visuals for comprehensive, interactive cost analysis, designed to help create cloud spend awareness across the organization. The key advantages of the Cost and Usage Dashboard include:
    • Seamless integration – This feature enables a seamless integration between the AWS Billing and Cost Management console and QuickSight, eliminating the need for manual data flow creation and dependency management.
    • Pre-built visuals for common use cases – It offers a range of pre-designed visuals, focusing on common scenarios like month-over-month trend analysis, offering a streamlined view of AWS costs and usage.
    • Broad accessibility and shareability – The dashboard can be shared with various stakeholders, including those without QuickSight console access, and can be embedded in team wikis, apps, or portals, enhancing cost awareness and accountability across an organization.

Embedded analytics

The following are improvements to embedded analytics in QuickSight:

  • Customized, interactive analytics with the QuickSight SDK 2.0 – The QuickSight SDK v2.0 adds several customization improvements, such as an optional preloader and new external hooks for managing undo, redo, print options, and parameters. Additionally, there are major rewrites to deliver developer-focused improvements, including static type checking, enhanced runtime validation, strong consistency in call patterns, and optimized event chaining. The QuickSight SDK v2.0 is modernized by using promises for all actions, so developers can use async and await functions for better event management.
  • Embedded callbacks – Embedded callback actions enable developers to build tighter integration between your application and QuickSight embedded dashboards and visuals. With this release, customers embedding QuickSight dashboards or visuals can now use new capabilities in the Embedding SDK to unlock use cases for end readers such as the following:
    • Flagging a record for secondary processing.
    • Sending a notification to stakeholders on a key insight.
    • Performing on-the-fly data updates through writebacks.
    • Tracking user interactions to improve future design and adoption.
  • Runtime theming and filtering – Runtime filtering and theming of embedded dashboards and visuals help independent software vendors (ISVs) seamlessly integrate their software as a service (SaaS) application with QuickSight embedded dashboards and visuals. They can now use the new methods available in the Embedding SDK to do the following:
    • Use filter methods to take advantage of the power of QuickSight filters within your SaaS application at runtime and make integrations between host application and embedded QuickSight dashboards and visuals seamless. Application developers can also create custom filter controls in your application, apply filter presets based on data from your application, and personalize filter configurations for users.
    • Synchronize the theme of your embedded content with the parent application and unlock personalized and accessible options for your users. With this new feature, ISVs can apply preconfigured themes, or users can update the default themes for their dashboard view at runtime.

Developer experience

QuickSight offers the following improvements to the developer experience:

  • Assets as bundle – QuickSight APIs to allow programmatic access to export and import QuickSight assets—dashboards, analyses, datasets including ingestion schedules, data sources, themes, and VPC configurations—across accounts and environments. These new APIs allow developers and BIOps to interact with a collection of assets in a lift-and-shift manner for deployment across QuickSight accounts, enable backup and restore, and support replication so you can automate workflows and achieve your desired infrastructure setup. These new capabilities bring greater agility to BIOps teams, allowing them to automate and seamlessly integrate QuickSight assets into existing infrastructure.
  • Amazon EventBridge integration – We launched QuickSight assets Create, Update, and Delete (CUD) events using Amazon EventBridge. With EventBridge, developers can respond automatically to events in QuickSight, such as a new dashboard creation or updates. These events are delivered to EventBridge in near-real time. Developers can write straightforward rules to indicate which events are of interest to them and what actions to take when an event matches a rule. By subscribing and responding to QuickSight events in EventBridge, you can automate your workflows, such as continuous deployment, replication, and backups.
  • Powered by QuickSight – The Powered by QuickSight (PbQ) program provides specialized build, market, and sell support to AWS software partners across their embedded analytics journey. We’ve completed over 40 PbQ global roadshow events in 2023, featuring AWS customers and partners from each region, where they share their stories on how QuickSight helped accelerate product development and insight delivery. Sign up for a Powered by QuickSight Roadshow in your area in 2024, or contact us for more information about the program. During the PbQ event, attendees will learn about the following:
    • Build – AWS experts can guide your migration to QuickSight, provide rapid proofs of concept, recommend partners for consulting services, and offer specialized technical help like with the Build Your Embedded Application Technical Onboarding Guide.
    • Market – AWS will help amplify your product launch with co-branded demand generation, joint PR, customer stories, and a PbQ launch package to speed your (and your customers’) adoption.
    • Sell – You can present alongside AWS at your events or ours, get tips on monetizing your SaaS app, and receive enablement for your sales and marketing team.

Amazon QuickSight Community

Stay up-to-date on new features via the Amazon QuickSight Community, where you can learn from other BI enthusiasts from across the globe, access over 300 learning resources, and explore what’s new—all from one central location! At this one-stop-shop for your BI learning journey, you’ll find searchable Q&A, resources for getting started with QuickSight, documentation, workshops, demos, on-demand videos (including select re:Invent videos), exclusive how-to articles, user groups, new Learning Dashboards, and the QuickSight event calendar. In 2023, we expanded to feature ongoing weekly and monthly learning webinars—including the weekly QuickSight Learning Series (Tuesdays and Thursdays), monthly Immersion Days (second, third, and last Wednesdays), and monthly Latest Features Deep Dive PartnerCast (first Fridays). These are free and available across a variety of time zones. If you miss a learning series session, you can watch it on demand.

Developer Corner

In October, the QuickSight Community launched a Developer Corner, which serves as the main gateway for learning about the embedded analytics capabilities of QuickSight. In this centralized hub, you can take advantage of developer Q&A, documentation, launch announcements, curated videos, and demos—all to guide you through adding dashboards, visuals and Q&A into your applications.

QuickSight Arena

Leading into AWS re:Invent 2023, we launched the QuickSight Arena. Now you can learn new data visualization skills and showcase your data analytics expertise to the world via QuickSight Arena, an embedded instance of QuickSight, within the QuickSight Community. With QuickSight Arena, you can:

  • Explore creating QuickSight data visualization dashboards for free
  • Publish dashboards to the Community Gallery to showcase your skills
  • Clone underlying analysis views of published dashboards
  • Include dashboards depicting your use case while posting questions in the QuickSight Community Q&A

QuickSight experts

We are excited to wrap up 2023 by announcing our Top 10 QuickSight Experts on the QuickSight Community, who have made an impact by providing trusted answers in Community Q&A and helping others on their BI learning journey.

Sign up for the QuickSight Community to get started asking and answering questions, showcase your visualizations in the Gallery, or subscribe to receive notifications on the specific content you want to see!

Business Intelligence Blog

Earlier this year, we launched the AWS Business Intelligence Blog channel, which is dedicated to how-to tutorials, technology innovation, and thought leadership in BI and embedded analytics at AWS, featuring QuickSight. It enables business analysts and application developers using AWS, and empowers you with on-demand and highly scalable tools to extract more value from your data. This channel also highlights partner products and customer success stories to help you select solutions that work and take the well-traveled path. Read our top customer stories and technical how-tos, and leave us a comment with your feedback.

We’ve worked backwards from real-world needs of our customers to build QuickSight. We saw that business users have different consumption preferences, and so built breadth of capability to ensure every user can access data and insights how they want to – interactive dashboards, paginated PDF reports, embedded analytics in apps, or simply asking questions using natural language. We learnt that customers found it difficult to scale analytics to all users – due to expensive licensing of legacy solutions, complexities of scaling legacy server-based architectures, or simply poor performance of these solutions with large data volumes. We built QuickSight as a fully managed solution that scales to millions of users without any infrastructure management needed, built SPICE to provide great performance at scale with high concurrency support, and offer pricing that allows organizations to truly roll out access to data to every user – whether in the C-suite or on the frontline. With generative BI and Amazon Q in QuickSight, we see an opportunity to make access to data easier and faster than ever before, and hope you join us on this journey. If you haven’t checked out QuickSight recently, sign up for our 30-day free trial now to experience the latest!

About the Authors

Jose Kunnackal is Director of Product Management for Amazon QuickSight, AWS’ cloud-native, fully managed BI service. Jose started his career with Motorola, writing software for telecom and first responder systems. Later he was Director of Engineering at Trilibis Mobile, where he built a SaaS mobile web platform using AWS services. Jose is excited by the potential of cloud technologies to help customers make the most of their data.

Katie Connolly has been with Amazon Web Services for 8+ years and is a Senior Product Manager for Amazon QuickSight, AWS’ cloud-native, fully managed BI service.

Sean Boon is Senior Manager of Product Management at Amazon QuickSight, where he manages QuickSight’s data, visualization, and reporting capabilities.

Zac Woodall is Principal Product Manager of AIML at Amazon QuickSight. As the product leader for AIML capabilities in Amazon QuickSight, Zac applies AI to simplify product experiences making data more useful and accessible. Zac has 24 years of experience helping create some of the world’s most used enterprise and consumer software, with stints in startups, Tableau, and Microsoft before coming to AWS.