Day 3 of the Microsoft BI conference. This inaugural BI conference provided superb keynote speeches from Jeff Raikes, Michael Treacy, Ted Kummert, Dr. Robert Kaplan, and with CEO Steve Ballmer wrapping up Day 3.
With hands-on labs, client war stories, and demonstrations, we were kept busy. The various types of tracks focused attendess on technical, business, client ROI, and partner. And the after hours parties were entertaining showing off Seattle's best.
However to summarize 3 days into one post, here are my top 3.5 take-away messages from the conference:
1. The Microsoft message was obvious; they are here to compete.
They have the tools to match or beat other vendors (ie. Business Objects, Cognos, MicroStrategy, etc). And they have an unmatched Total Cost of Ownership. The pack leaders don't have to look far to feel the Microsoft Juggernaut on their backs.
Sure the conference itself could have been better in a few areas but in typical Microsoft fashion: next time will be much better and the time after that will be really impressive.
Their BI play is much the same. They are about a year away from "really impressive" however today's Microsoft BI tools made me take serious notice. ProClarity provides analysis in easy-to-visualize formats (huge improvements for presenting information compared with typical vendor "cube" views). Business Scorecard Manager and PerformancePoint are clean and concise tools for dashboards, scorecards, and KPI analysis.
2. But the sum of the parts is less than the parts combined as a whole.
(I'm trying not to use 'synergy' here because it is over-used)
Now you can take the BI tools and seamlessly wrap them with SharePoint for your enterprise-wide, information sharing, collaboration tool. The best part about SharePoint is it's ability to fit outside of BI using document mgmt, search, and collaboration features. This is one major advantage Microsoft has over almost every competitor.
If you don't see it, Microsoft is amassing a total package that hits almost every point in your business.
3. Who's going to support the vendors with similar tools to Microsoft?
There were several, and I mean many, vendors that built products very, very similar to Microsoft's existing offering. Many started prior to the ProClarity acquisition when there were gaps in the BI offering. Now it begs the question,
How many analysis tools and report graphing tools that "integrate seamlessly with SQL Server" can the market support?
I'm sure many of their business plans used to say, "Microsoft to buy us out at year 3". Many of those are changing to say, "If Microsoft is a competitor and has no need to buy us out, can we compete?"
3.5 Seriously considering Microsoft BI?
It is not only the SQL Server product anymore. A full suite tools with a price point that allows you to spend more money on customizations. This makes business people (the end users) very happy indeed.
Have you ever heard from other BI vendors the pitch that licensing costs and implementation costs are about 50/50. That is, 50% of your BI implementation is spent on licenses. That doesn't leave much room for building BI to fit your business needs.