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        David Menninger's Analyst Perspectives

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        2021 Value Index for Analytics Rates Microsoft with Assurance

        We are happy to share some insights about Microsoft Power BI drawn from our latest Value Index research, which assesses how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements.

        VR_VI_Analytics_and_Data_Logo (4)-1Earlier this year we published the Ventana Research Value Index: Analytics and Data 2021, the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts. We then developed three additional Value Indexes on analytics and business intelligence focusing on mobile, embedded and collaborative capabilities. Because each is a critical aspect of modern BI, we developed specific criteria to provide an in-depth look at features geared specifically to mobile, embedded and collaborative use.

        In all of our Value Indexes, we utilize a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal and vendor selection process for analytics and business intelligence. We evaluated Microsoft and 17 other vendors in seven categories: five relevant to the product and experience – Adaptability, Capability, Manageability, Reliability and Usability – and two related to the customer experience – Total Cost of Ownership/Return on Investment and Vendor Validation. To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and on data derived from our Benchmark Research on Analytics and Business Intelligence. Microsoft’s overall performance rating is 66.2% in the Value Index, with a customer experience rating of 50.3% and a product experience rating 69.1%.

        Ventana_Research_Value_Index_Analytics_and_Data_2021_Vendor_Overall_Chart_Microsoft@2xMicrosoft provides BI capabilities as one of many offerings in its portfolio of products and services. It was categorized as an Innovative Vendor, ranking 12th overall in this Value Index evaluation. Microsoft performed its best in Usability and Adaptability.

        Microsoft Power BI is a collection of on-premises and cloud-based software services. Power BI Desktop on-premises software is required for authoring. The product supports a wide variety of relational, multidimensional and other data sources. Data can be imported, accessed via DirectQuery or managed using a combination of both. The product has advanced significantly since our previous assessment and has a large ecosystem of third-party extensions that enhance the product’s capabilities. In addition, Power BI is integrated with many other Microsoft products such as Azure Synapse and Teams for data-related functions and collaboration, respectively.

        There is still a heavy reliance on third-party products, which impacts Microsoft’s Capability rating. Microsoft would also perform better in Validation and TCO/ROI if more comprehensive information about Power BI was available and easy to find among the many products and services the company offers.

        Analytics and BI vendors have recognized the value of collaboration and have been increasingly incorporating these capabilities into products. Facilitating communication and collaboration among those involved in the decision-making process leads to more informed and better decisions. Microsoft Power BI offers a wide variety of collaborative capabilities. It supports sharing and emailing analyses, alerts and notifications, assigning tasks with an approval process, commenting on analyses and posting to discussion groups. Some of these features are provided via integration with additional Microsoft products. Better integration of collaborative capabilities with Power BI would help improve Microsoft’s Capability ranking.

        Analytics embedded within applications can more easily lead to action because the analyses are easier to perform and more accessible to line-of-business personnel. Nearly three-quarters of participants in our Data and Analytics in the Cloud Benchmark Research said they considered embedded analytics important. Microsoft provides JavaScript and REST application programming interfaces for embedding and managing Power BI applications and components. It also provides .NET and C# libraries for developers. Developers can create custom visualizations and custom connectors. Microsoft would improve its Capability score with better natural language processing and more machine learning assistance.

        Mobile access to analytics supports a workforce seeking to conduct business in any location at any time. Integration between desktop/laptop devices and mobile devices is important, so organizations must make choices to provide analytics platforms that can deliver. Microsoft Power BI Mobile is available as a native application for iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices. The product provides good usability and integration with the desktop and browser-based versions as well as offline data access. Information can be delivered in a variety of ways which are supported by many search and filtering capabilities, some of which can utilize NLP. Power BI also supports Apple Watch. Microsoft’s Capability rating was affected by the heavy reliance on third-party products, since some of these may not function on mobile devices.

        This assessment was based on Microsoft’s analytics products available in December of 2020. Over the past months, Microsoft has released updates and new features in Power BI such as the new developer samples for embedding Power BI analytics in Salesforce and a new Power BI connector for Databricks. Microsoft also introduced the new Power Automate visual for Power BI reports, which allows end-users to run an automated sequence of tasks all within a Power BI report. The Azure Data Lake Storage Gen 2 integration was made generally available in April 2021, which allows workers to connect Power BI dataflows to Azure Data Lake Storage at the tenant or workspace level.

        Organizations should evaluate data and analytics requirements including collaborative, embedded and mobile capabilities to ensure existing software systems are meeting the organization’s needs. If existing approaches are not satisfying those requirements, organizations should consider whether Microsoft Power BI can help meet those needs.

        This research-based index is the most comprehensive assessment of the value of analytics and BI software in the industry. Technology buyers can learn more about how to use our Value Index by clicking here, and included vendors that wish to learn more can click here. Read the report here.


        David Menninger


        David Menninger
        Executive Director, Technology Research

        David Menninger leads technology software research and advisory for Ventana Research, now part of ISG. Building on over three decades of enterprise software leadership experience, he guides the team responsible for a wide range of technology-focused data and analytics topics, including AI for IT and AI-infused software.


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