Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Microsoft Motivates Businesses to Examine BI Options

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 16, 2019 7:00:00 AM

We are happy to offer some insights on Microsoft drawn from our latest Value Index research, which assesses how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. Earlier this year we published the Ventana Research Value Index: Analytics and Business Intelligence 2019, the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts. We then developed Ventana_Research-Analytics_and_BI-Value_Index-Generic-4three additional Value Indexes on Analytics and BI focusing on mobile, embedded and collaborative capabilities. Because each is a critical aspect of modern business intelligence, we developed specific criteria for each in order 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 (RFP) and vendor selection process for analytics and business intelligence. We evaluated Microsoft and 14 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI 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 PowerBI, a public cloud offering that also is available in a desktop version, provides a broad set of business intelligence and analytics capabilities. It offers functionality across many of the categories we evaluate, but in most instances the current product does not match the best of the competition. Microsoft has an active third-party developer community offering extensions that make its product more useful and capable. The architecture supports loading data into PowerBI or directly querying data in a variety of on-premises or cloud-based commercial databases including distributions of Hadoop.

Overall Microsoft ranks 14th in the Value Index assessment.


Microsoft PowerBI offers native mobile applications for Windows, iOS and Android. The mobile application provides a modern framework for analytics and BI, including offline or disconnected capabilities. However, many of the criteria we evaluate in the Value Index require third-party components. Consequently, the company’s scores are lower than if those capabilities were native to the platform and supported by Microsoft. Microsoft PowerBI ranks ninth in capabilities.

Overall Microsoft ranks 13th in this Value Index assessment. The product offers an effective user interface for analysts but does not do enough to support other roles, including executives.


Microsoft PowerBI is a public cloud offering that is also available in a desktop version. The architecture supports loading data into PowerBI or Ventana_Research_Value_Index_Analytics&BI_2019_COMBINED_Microsoftdirectly querying data in a variety of on-premises or cloud-based commercial databases including distributions of Hadoop. The product includes extensive API capabilities to create embedded applications and extend the PowerBI environment. Microsoft PowerBI ranks 11th in capabilities.

Microsoft’s biggest strength is its community for developers. The company identifies developers as a specific group of targeted users and offers good documentation that is specialized for this audience. Overall Microsoft ranks 13th in this Value Index assessment. The product offers strong calculation and data-access capabilities but lags in most of the criteria we evaluate.


Microsoft PowerBI’s collaborative analytic strengths lie in its capabilities to publish analyses and deliver that information to individuals on an ad-hoc or scheduled basis. The product provides good annotation and commenting capabilities as well and the alerting capabilities can help participants more easily communicate and initiate collaboration in the analytic process.

Overall Microsoft ranks 13th in this Value Index assessment and 12th in capabilities. The product integration with the Microsoft Office suite offers good collaboration capabilities for users of those products, but integration with Office is only one of many factors we considered in this assessment. Microsoft could improve its scores with more personalization and better support for converting analysis to action. For example, being able to communicate decisions electronically and track tasks to completion would help organizations more effectively realize the value of their analyses.

The company has frequent new releases and has announced significant new functionality for the product, but the Value Index assessment is based primarily on generally available functionality, not early releases or previews.

The other challenge for BI professionals is that Microsoft has such a large product portfolio, it is difficult to find information specific to PowerBI, such as case studies and services information. Other than the capability category, Microsoft ranks no higher than 12th in any other category we evaluated. 

We also caution organizations to evaluate the functionality provided via native PowerBI capabilities versus those that are provided by third-party products or extensions.

This research-based index is the most comprehensive assessment of the value of analytics and business intelligence 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.

Topics: Data Science, Mobile, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Digital Technology

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Written by Ventana Research

Ventana Research is the most authoritative and respected market research and advisory services firm focused on improving business outcomes through optimal use of people, processes, information and technology. Since our beginning, our goal has been to provide insight and expert guidance on mainstream and disruptive technologies. In short, we want to help you become smarter and find the most relevant technology to accelerate your organization's goals.