Last week, Microsoft was recognized as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms for the 10th year in a row. I remember back in the summer of 2013 when Power BI was first announced by Amir Netz at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston, Texas. I was sitting about ten rows back, and the demo we witnessed that day was truly awesome. The Elvis music use case that Netz showed is still one of my favorite Power BI demos!
As the presentation went on, I saw an extremely visual, interactive solution that would eventually revolutionize how traditional Microsoft Excel power users could interact with and shape data. At the time Netz presented, Power BI had PowerPivot, but as an Excel add-in it was clunky at best. With that first announcement of Power BI, Microsoft set a new course to a true cloud-based BI offering for all users – consumers, power users, and IT pros alike.
With Power BI, slicing and dicing would no longer be the domain of SQL Server AS cube developers (like us!) During Netz’s presentation, one of my Microsoft partner frenemies texted me and asked, “Is BlueGranite going out of business because of this announcement?” At the time, I found myself asking the same question! Fortunately, the demand for data and analytics has never been stronger. Our company has grown lock-step with the maturity of Power BI, which is why the latest announcement from Gartner has been so personal to all of us at BlueGranite.
As a Microsoft data and analytics partner over the past 10+ years, we have been witness to a couple of interesting market cycles. First, Microsoft BI grew from an afterthought for corporate reporting and dashboard projects into the leading combination of SQL Server SSIS/RS/AS and SharePoint for on-premises dashboards and BI solutions. Then, in 2010, Microsoft’s then-CEO Steve Ballmer announced that Microsoft was “all in” with the cloud. It was a visionary statement, but left us drifting along for a few years in the BI space. While the rest of Microsoft was moving to Office 365, CRM Online, and Azure, we were left with a (newly) outdated on-premises platform with SQL and SharePoint.
Fast forward a few years to today, after a stream of monthly updates and new features from the Power BI team, and it’s amazing to see Microsoft’s dream of leading with BI in the cloud finally realized. Gartner has it right – Microsoft is the leader in both vision and execution. We see it every day with our clients who are moving not a few hundred users to Power BI, but tens of thousands. This has created countless new ways we can add value for our clients. Power BI is uniquely a first-class ad-hoc self-service BI tool, but it’s also an enterprise data visualization tool that can replace outdated legacy platforms. Power BI is the tip of the iceberg for countless data integration, advanced analytics, and cloud data platform solutions to help businesses harness value from their data.
Congratulations, Microsoft! And here’s to another 10 years of both leadership and growth in data and analytics!