Microsoft’s TechEd Europe 2014 event, which was held in October, 2014, included a presentation on the Business Intelligence (BI) opportunities presented by Microsoft Office and Office 365 products. The title of this presentation, which is now available for public viewing as a webcast on Microsoft’s MSDN Channel 9 web site, is Overview of Business Intelligence in Office and Office 365. The presentation is led by Peter Myers, an expert on Microsoft databases who is based in Australia. Myers is affiliated with Bitwise, a Microsoft partner.
Microsoft is not the only ISV looking to capitalize on the increasing appetite of enterprise business consumers for data and the visualizations (dashboards, charts, color coded heat maps, etc) produced from it. But Microsoft may be favorably positioned in the competitive landscape for this market. The core segment of enterprise consumers driving ISVs to produce ever more powerful data visualization solutions are Lines of Business (LoBs). LoBs usually exist within so-called silos. As the result of an important parallel enterprise computing trend, Bring Your Own Device/Bring Your Own App (BYOD/BYOA) LoBs now find themselves needing to “self manage”, in other words, to provide themselves with the development and administrative resources they require to successfully build out the computing infrastructure they require in order to drive business. Enterprise IT is neither positioned any longer to lead, nor even to support the kinds of development requirements LoBs surface.
What makes Microsoft’s position in this market attractive is the ubiquity of Excel as the spreadsheet platform of choice for most LoBs. Developing BI add-ons to Excel, Power BI, Power Pivot, Power Query, etc, made a lot of sense since the procedures required to install these tools, administer them, and customize views to deliver targeted data visualizations were all kept within the scope of the skill set of what Gartner calls “Citizen Developers”, meaning power users who play other roles in the organization, but, nevertheless, have the skills required to configure applications to deliver a lot of the result they require.
Microsoft competitors (for example, IBM and Apple, or even Tableau Software) are attempting to work with the same consumer segment with similar solutions for Excel. Nevertheless as the IP owner for Excel, as mentioned at the top of this post, Microsoft looks to be the leader, at least at the time of this post.
The next post will include comments on the opening section of Myers’ presentation.
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