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Microsoft BI right at home in Gartner's North-East

In Gartner City the coveted land is in the North-East where the parks and cafes are frequented by those with a vision for the future and the proven ability to achieve it.

The latest real estate figures are in, with Gartner having just released their 2018 Magic Quadrant in Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) Platforms. From this it is clear Microsoft’s Analytics and BI Platforms have established themselves firmly in the North East and seem set to enjoy and further their investment there.

Gartner Magic Quadrant Analytics and BusinessIntelligence 2018

This is the third year Microsoft BI have been enjoying the best views out to the East Coast and for those of you that have been hanging out with Microsoft during that time this should come as no surprise.

Ok, enough punishing the suburban analogy - and on to something real…

In the years since Power BI has been offered, the rate at which improvements have been made and the relevance and quality of those improvements continues to impress. This is testament to Microsoft’s commitment to delivering a world class offering; but more so to you, the users and customers that vote with your feet, suggesting and demanding the features and capabilities that you need to provide you with a truly compelling solution.

I do a lot of business analysis and requirements gathering in my work. I often find myself telling stakeholders and project sponsors that it’s all very well brainstorming ideas in workshops and interviews, but there’s no substitute for the suggestions and feedback (those are euphemistic terms) that you get from users once they start using your solution. You can sit round trying to act clever with a bunch of people drawing circles and arrows on a whiteboard, but the most relevant innovations don’t come from those early sessions. The best suggestions come from people realising that what you came up with in those sessions was nearly-right or almost-useful. It’s the improvements gleaned at that stage that craft a truly useful, innovative and relevant outcome.

Microsoft have set up their Power BI Ideas Forum for that very purpose and have had over 6,000 ideas submitted through this approach from a very active and passionate community.

This agile approach, with monthly release cycles and constant iterative improvement, has enabled Power BI to evolve ever so well towards the actual needs of the businesses and the users. Now that Microsoft are several years into this cycle of improvement we are all enjoying a stable, compelling product set – which, as consultants, we are proud and confident to recommend to our customers.

And it’s not just the suggestions and recommendations the community have delivered to Power BI; there’s a huge resource of custom visualisations created and made available by Microsoft and the community too. Consider the information content of an infographic compared with a traditional poster and you begin to appreciate how clever and innovative some people are with respect to developing rich, engaging visualisations. At the time of writing there are 143 custom visualisations freely available that can be added to your reports with ease.

Two examples of this are the Visio Visual, enabling the diagramming, planning and visual capabilities of Microsoft Visio to be combined with the data-bound visualisations, slicers and filters of Power BI.

Figure 1 - Visio Visual Example - (Source: appsource.microsoft.com)

…and the Infographic Designer, to create reports with iconography that pertains to your line of business.

MIcrosoft Power BI Infographic Designer
Figure 2 - Infographic Designer Example - (Source: appsource.microsoft.com)

As you can see from just these two examples, the aesthetic and informative potential to appreciate and interact with data in a whole new way is limited only by your imagination.

To give you an idea of how far dashboarding, reporting and data analytics tools have come in recent years, a colleague of mine recently said that if someone had come up with Power BI ten years ago, customers would have paid a million dollars for it. How things have changed with both the capabilities and the expectations in that short time!

At Intergen we make it our goal to positively change through expertise and practical solutions right across the Microsoft Technology stack. We are proud of what we have achieved with Microsoft Power BI and just as Microsoft have stepped up their investment in the BI space, so too have we with our ability to delight our customers. If you wish to speak with us or our customers about this, please see our page on Microsoft Power BI and our various case studies. Or you can start by freely downloading the Power BI Desktop and beginning to appreciate the potential for yourself.

Microsoft do a wonderful job of making all this accessible; setting and raising the standards in data preparation, modelling, visualisation and presentation. Their progress toward Gartner’s North East is testament to their ongoing leadership and deliberate strategy in this space. I for one would love to see a Power BI custom visual showing Microsoft’s progression toward the North East over successive Gartner Magic Quadrants - but I think I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader...

Posted by: Bryce Saunders, Senior Consultant | 05 March 2018

Tags: Business Intelligence, Data Analytics, Data Insight, Data Intelligence

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