This is a recognition post to Microsoft and a thank you because finally provided Microsoft Business Intelligence Professionals with the right tools to actually do our work.
When I started my career as a BI professional, my specialization was in Microsoft technology. This was due to a simple reason: SQL server is an affordable, reliable and easy solution for companies. I was a consultant working with several different customers and all of them had that in common which is something that I think Microsoft can be proud of. Nevertheless, there was something that was missing and was pointed out by the customers everywhere I would go: Reporting Services looked awful and excel reports (with pivot table and charts) weren’t enough.
The scenario wasn’t good in my opinion and because of that, the solutions for visualization ended up being either custom built to be included in an internal portal or either by using some different vendor solutions like Qlik, Microstrategy or Tableau.
The first solution was interesting because we could do really beautiful reports and dashboards but it ended up taking much time to accomplish what the stakeholders wanted. Regarding the second solution, I never liked it because these tools would never work perfectly with analysis services, therefore, we would be ending with a half-solution.
It was then with great hope that every professional saw the new Power capabilities for excel being defined as the solution that everybody was searching. Power View appeared and people wanted it but still wasn’t the perfect solution for everybody. Because it was an add-in of excel and didn’t work with analysis services multi-dimensional, once again Microsoft was near but not yet in the place that customers wanted them to be.
Gladly, everything changed with Power BI. Power BI came in my opinion very limited at the beginning but the approach from Microsoft couldn’t be better right from the start: constant updates and feedback from customers, a lot of feedback. After some time, it’s amazing how much this tool grew and the potential that it still has.
The journey is, in my opinion, very interesting: Project Crescent was the seed, Power BI for Office 365 (Power View, Power Query, Power Map and Power Pivot) came and showed what it could be and then Power BI came as a separate tool with a desktop, mobile and online service version and customers started to push more and more every day to get a piece of this solution. In the middle, there was also the acquisition of Datazen that initially (and still today) was a little strange for me.
As a BI professional, Power BI is, in fact, the missing piece that was pushing Microsoft down in the industry. The improvement of Reporting services was also really good and needed. In my opinion, we are just missing right now some improvement on Sharepoint to be the glue element between the different tools.
Let’s also praise Power Apps and Microsoft Flow (think Microsoft should have called it Power Flow but that’s just my two cents). These two tools can be revolutionary for companies and I totally believe that Power Apps will be game-changing for companies in the next two years. Let’s see what will happen but I’m quite excited about the path that Microsoft is taking.