Microsoft BI Reviews

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Hrishikesh Kardile profile photo
November 20, 2019

Microsoft BI review

Score 10 out of 10
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Microsoft BI has transformed the reporting process at JCT. It is being used across the whole organization due to ease of access to data and drilldowns. The company has created tools to give visibility of detailed level data to folks working at corporate as well as in the field.
  • Ability to drill down.
  • Automated refresh of data.
  • Ability to visualize data on charts and maps.
  • Need access to detailed map visuals.
  • Use Python or R scripts.
  • Need ability to input data.
BI is well suited where organizations want to automate the reporting process. Less suited where organizations want advanced analytics to supplement their BI.
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Score 8 out of 10
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We implement Microsoft BI solutions to clients across North America. Clients are constantly coming to us having issues gathering their data from disparate sources in order to make meaningful decisions with their information. Depending on the client and their licensing agreements, we will then evaluate options, and the Microsoft BI stack tends to be a leader of the pack to solve many client data issues.
  • Great traditional ETL data gathering tools.
  • Large technical user community.
  • Excellent data visualization tools.
  • The race to perfect gathering of Non-Traditional datasets is on-going; with Microsoft arguably not the leader of the pack in this category.
  • Licensing options for PowerBI visualizations may be a factor. I.e. if you need to implement B2C PowerBI visualizations, the cost is considerably high especially for startups.
  • Some clients are still resistant putting their data on the cloud, which restricts lots of functionality to Power BI.
If the client you are dealing with already has existing Microsoft licensing agreements, selecting the Microsoft Stack may be a no-brainer. However, truly understanding the client's needs is the most important place to start versus selecting the technology stack. B2C clients that need a visualization tool may need to look elsewhere if you are looking for a data visualization tool, as costs for licensing are high at the time of writing.
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Thomas Young profile photo
Score 8 out of 10
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Microsoft BI is used across many departments within the organization. Due to the availability of other software tools, Microsoft BI is only used in certain parts of the business. Microsoft Power BI is used for automated data reporting and interactive visualizations. The software is also used for some analytics processes.
  • As with most every other Microsoft product, Microsoft BI makes setting up and analyzing data about as easy as it gets.
  • Creating graphics is very easy.
  • Connecting to multiple data sources works just fine.
  • Simple reporting and integration with other Microsoft products is great.
  • Microsoft BI is not top of the for advanced analysis and modeling.
  • Reshaping and restructuring data is doable, but not super simple.
  • Customizing visualizations is sometimes difficult to impossible.
Microsoft BI is great if you and your team have used Microsoft products for a long time. Connecting Microsoft BI to your current processes will be a breeze. The software also makes it easy to create executive dashboards and automated data reporting. For simple financial reporting, Microsoft BI is as easy as they come.
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Shelby Bowden profile photo
Score 7 out of 10
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We use Microsoft BI primarily just within our lab group and department due to its very specific and powerful data visualization capabilities. While it is applicable to almost any work involving data analytics, it might seem like overkill for some people. We have found that it does an excellent job in preparing and displaying the more complex data that we deal with.
  • Data display in graphs and tables
  • Compatibility with other Microsoft products
  • User-friendly and informative reporting
  • Data compatibility with non-Microsoft products
  • Data sourcing functionality is poor
  • Offline server functionality impedes out of country work
For large and complex datasets, Microsoft BI excels in presenting the data in a manageable and informative way. Its graphical interface does a great job of quickly and easily displaying data, and the reporting tools are well above average for analytical software. It is also great when used in conjunction with other Microsoft products, but does not do well when paired with alternate programs.
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Michael Timms profile photo
Score 10 out of 10
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Several people that I know use Microsoft PowerBI. It is mainly used for reporting for several teams, then I am able to access those reports for my own use. When I use it I import Excel sheets in, and use PowerBI to make them more visually appealing and easier to filter. It works like a charm. I have not seen any issues other than the occasional drag with data sets.
  • Makes reports more visually appealing
  • Very good variety of formats for charting information
  • Good cloud connectivity (most of the time)
  • Need to be proficient with Excel before diving into PowerBI
  • Only available with a monthly subscription
  • Steep learning curve for many users (including me)
If you are part of an enterprise that is running daily reports to many users, and you want to up your game by making visually stunning, easy to follow reports, PowerBI is the tool for you and well worth the cost. If you are in an environment that runs one report a month, the cost might not be worth it just for some bells and whistles.
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Ivan Leung profile photo
Score 7 out of 10
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Data modeling, visualization, and analytics.

Microsoft BI is currently only used for dashboarding (descriptive analytics), where data relationship is simple, while most of the predictive analytics are done in other tools.
  • Easy integration with other Microsoft products.
  • Great integration with R/Python.
  • Map visualization limit on data count
  • Inability to model data relationship with multiple non unique keys
Dashboarding with simple data relationship.

In the oil and gas industry, it's common to be analyzing geospatial items along with cross-sectional data, and this can easily go over the row limit that Microsoft BI has for its map visualization; this is a shortfall.

For high-level dashboarding, say, aggregated data for management reporting, Microsoft BI is perfectly suited due to its professional layout and ease of deployment. The data modeling aspect in Microsoft BI leaves much to be desired as it doesn't allow for many relationships which are rather common in the data used in our industry; this forces users to create a unique key by having to concatenate columns of interest, which tend to result in untidy data and make maintenance difficult.
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Jean Franco profile photo
Score 10 out of 10
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Microsoft BI is being used by specific departments, providing analysis of different types of data, how resources are being used and even showing how well Support Departments are doing, responding to tickets that are eventually fed to Microsoft BI. There are many problems being addressed, including allowing several types of connections to our data.
  • Allow many types of connections to our data
  • Makes impressive graphics from the data collected
  • Provides interactive resources and dashboards
  • Should have support for other operating systems
  • Prices could be a bit better for organizations with more users
You can have Microsoft BI in any scenario since it can gather information from many different sources. You also need to take into consideration that Microsoft BI provides a lot of resources to developers allowing you to customize and do much more with this tool. In some circumstances where you need to build graphics in real time from sources where you need a task to import the data, it can be cumbersome.
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Jason Shaw profile photo
December 06, 2018

Power BI just works!

Score 9 out of 10
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We currently have limited use of Power BI within our IT and accounting departments for relaying reporting information. We use Power BI to create an efficient interface for our executive team to gain access to vital sales information from our restaurants in a concise, detailed manner as opposed to our traditional Excel spreadsheets. IT uses Power BI to track purchasing as well as within our help desk department.
  • Great for translating numbers in graphics that are easy to understand and manipulate for anyone with no technical expertise
  • Additional training and tutorials that exist with Power BI as users are working with it would be beneficial.
Well Suited:
Reporting numbers for accounting to an executive team that can be displayed and referenced frequently.
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Lakhan Suri profile photo
Score 8 out of 10
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In my organization, we are using MSBI to create, maintain and deploy reposts. We use all three component of MSBI like SSIS, SSRS, SSAS. We use ETL packages to maintain Dataware hosts using SSIS. We create reports using SSRS and analyze the data using the SSAS tool
  • Create packages to move data and perform different data related tasks using SSIS
  • Create reports to summarize the data in an understandable form using SSRS
  • Analyze the data provided by teams and create data cubes and reports to understand the data properly using SSAS.
  • It should be an open source tool for a vast variety of implementation.
  • You need to buy a licensed server to maintain MSBI
  • Need a proper course or content to learn concepts, which sometimes creates difficulty.
The interface is good, and even we can use drag and drop functionality to create packages and reports and other tasks.
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Score 7 out of 10
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Microsoft BI is used by a few data teams in my organisation in conjunction with other business intelligence tools. One of the primary reasons for using Microsoft BI is its simplicity, user friendliness, and good palate of visualisation options. Unlike most other standard BI tools in the market, Microsoft BI does provide a good array of graphical representations - thereby making it a good choice for reporting purposes.
  • Good range of visualisation features.
  • Very easy to setup and get onboard.
  • Handles data integration from multiple sources decently well.
  • Not advisable to use Microsoft BI as a standalone primary tool for data management.
  • The process of moulding or repurposing data is not easy.
  • Integrating Microsoft BI with non-Microsoft tools is a huge pain.
If your primary use case requires the use of several visualisation options and graphical representations, then Microsoft BI might be a good option to use. However, if your data management needs do not revolve around reporting, then it is better to go with other standard business intelligence tools available in the market like Oracle BI or Tableau.
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February 05, 2019

Great BI tool

Score 8 out of 10
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We have been using a number of Microsoft products in our company and decided to go with the Microsoft BI platform due to its easy integration with Microsoft Office suite. We wanted to incorporate a business intelligence tool into our enterprise to get a full 360 view of our mission-critical data. Microsoft BI helped fill that role.
  • Report generation from our back end data warehouse has become way more streamlined using this tool.
  • By using the Power Pivot and Power View it has enabled us to access and mash up data from a variety of sources. Plus it can easily be shared with other users through simple Office applications.
  • The implementation time for Microsoft BI can be fairly lengthy. It's definitely longer than some of the other products we evaluated.
  • The upfront investment in terms of capital and time is fairly large with this tool. It requires a compliant Microsoft SQL server in the back end to leverage most of its functionality.
It's a great tool that offers full benefits of self-service BI with very little need for interaction with the IT department. The Power BI Desktop and Mobile application, in particular, has added a lot of value for our business objectives.
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Score 8 out of 10
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We use it in various pockets across our organization. We use trend analytics, reports, and interactive dashboards all the time, but the real workhorse is the Marketing cost data aggregation toolkit. We also connect PowerBI with SQL integrated OLAP databases, enabling us to leverage data housed within SAP with extracted data to create visual dashboards to track various KPI metrics on a daily basis.
  • Microsoft BI allows us to combine data from multiple sources, build data models, create visualizations, and share the results.
  • Cloud Interactive charts in a cloud that can be easily shared
  • Connectors to popular data sources, allowing us to integrate with almost any system
  • More authentication methods to allow power users to connect directly to Web APIs.
  • It can be quite difficult to setup without guided assistance from experienced users
  • Limits on dataset size.
Microsoft BI is a terrific tool to use when you need to pull data from various sources, and especially powerful in its ability to display the actionable information on a single dashboard. It is the "go-to" solution for the company that wants to move to the next level of pivot tables, dynamic charting and business intelligence reporting.
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Score 10 out of 10
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My company deals with a lot of data, and it is extremely important that we have an efficient, easy to use program with visually appealing outputs. Microsoft BI can do it all. We collect a lot of data in the field and have to look at trends in that data through time. After our own analysis, that all has to be presented to our clients who generally need self-explanatory figures. Microsoft BI has been a great program for us.
  • It is a very user-friendly interface! Doesn't take long to learn and be able to make some great graphs.
  • The accessibility and sharing capabilities are beyond wonderful-- it has made it easy to share between employees before sending out final reports and it is easy to share with clients who need something to look at before the full report is finished.
  • There are a lot of options for data display and they can be as complex or simple as you want and still look amazing.
  • They have a great online resource for help and tutorials. If you don't catch on quickly on your own, it is quite easy to do some reading online and teach yourself.
  • The Microsoft BI app can be finicky at times and it would be great for that to be more streamlined. We sometimes require data to be shown during fieldwork, and a functional app makes a big difference.
  • The program doesn't always remember my settings. This may just be a glitch with the program on my computer, but it would be a huge timesaver if I didn't have to reset my preferences every week.
It is extremely well suited for companies (of any size) dealing with large data quantities who have to compile and analyze the data in a short amount of time. I have found it very efficient for my company, as it allows a lot of flexibility for data display and is so user-friendly.
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Score 9 out of 10
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Microsoft BI is currently being used across the organization by all departments who have staff interested in tapping the hidden value of their data. It allows users to create their own queries and visualize them without a large time investment to learn the software. Ad hoc reporting is easier to accomplish using MS BI than some of the other data mining software out there.
  • Easy to learn the software.
  • Allows complex queries to be created ad hoc and ran against databases quickly.
  • Gives the users the ability to empower their departments by setting up easy to implement visualizations.
  • Understanding the full scope of the software takes a lot of time.
  • It doesn't handle very large datasets well, importing can take a while.
  • I have not found a way to build scheduled reports.
Very affordable, well suited for anyone who wants to try out business intelligence and data visualization without a large time investment up front to get it going.

Not appropriate for very large databases, it can take large datasets a while to load into BI. Not a lot of granularity provided out of the box, though there are many add ons to provide further functionality available.
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Brian Caulfield profile photo
Score 4 out of 10
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Microsoft BI is a great tool to allow for the visualization and communication of data to my whole team. Microsoft BI is being used in conjunction with many operational KPI's to better drive action and responses to improve or address issues that arise. The main problem solved by BI is the ability to gather and bring together information from multiple sources and unify this data.
  • Bringing data together from multiple sources
  • Allows for graphical representation of data to improve communication up and down the management chain.
  • Tracking of data for use in the future
  • Could be more user friendly
  • Improve the learning curve for new users
  • Allow for better integration with mobile app.
Microsoft BI is well suited for a data landscape that traverses multiple business units. its ability to bring different type of information together and communicate it in a more concise manner is great. Scenarios that required continuous monitoring and team communication, Microsoft BI is perfect. The ability to access the information on the fly through the mobile app is outstanding.
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Jason Leidig profile photo
Score 10 out of 10
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It is currently being used at a program level by project controls to provide project performance data to the project team. Engagement with Power BI allows the different stakeholders for the project to engage with performance data providing them the opportunity to be more responsive to issues and opportunities. It keeps everyone that is a part of the project on course and helps drive collaboration with the team members.
  • The layout of Power BI is very intuitive. Someone that is familiar with Excel and working with Charts and Graphs in that environment will find the learning curve a rather short one to start using Power BI.
  • I like the way Power BI fits an assortment of users and how the functionality that you engage is replicated in Excel, that being Power Query and Power Pivot. So what you learn in one tool can be readily applied towards the other which allows you to more effectively apply your training.
  • I appreciate how Microsoft is working to develop tools that go a long ways to empowering the end user. Prior to Power BI I would have had to consult with a "BI" professional to develop a dashboard. With Power BI I don't have to consult with anyone, I can work to put together the dash board I want and using a tool set that is really robust and allows me to engage an enormous amount of data. It's provides a great deal of flexibility and the types of data I can connect to.
  • Updates...Microsoft is working diligently to keep Power BI current with monthly updates. They do a really good job of listening to the end user, if there is functionality not currently present just give them a month or so.
  • Just to be clear, even though it's easy to get going right out of the gate with Power BI it provides plenty of opportunities to create some really sophisticated reporting solutions. With DAX in Power Pivot and M language in Power Query, you are provided with plenty of head room to do some really amazing things in Power BI.
  • Training...there are resources across the web for learning and growing your skills and Power BI. And what's even better is the majority of those resources are free.
  • Data engagement, when presenting the data to the end user Power BI goes a long way to allowing that end user to engage the data and begin to identify root cause by simply interacting with the graph/chart/data set. It allows for really fluid engagement. Prior to Power BI so many times during the presentation of data we often times ended the engagement with that data with more questions than what were answered. With Power BI, more often than not, the end user is able to get answers to the questions by simply clicking on the data in the graph/chart/dataset to see the details. This tool really does have the capacity to make you look like a rock star.
  • The desktop version is free, monthly updates, free training resources...what's not to love. I'm sure that someone with a higher degree of technical learning will be able to better articulate some negatives for Power BI, I'm just not that guy. I have nothing but appreciation for Power BI.
Flexibility, engagement, training resources, updates, cost, implementation, ease of use, support; these are the reasons why I would recommend Power BI. Power BI is best suited for situations where collaboration is needed among several different groups who are working concurrently on different activities. Where there are multiple levels of data that need to be parsed through. It's difficult to think of a scenario where it wouldn't be beneficial other than the obvious.
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Celil ÇİYNEKLİ profile photo
Score 10 out of 10
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Power BI is a dashboard, data query and, data modeling tool. You can report your data as quickly and easily as with other competitors. With machine learning ability you can easily query, model and report your data. With the AI supported insight ability, you can drill down to the problems. If you want more analyzing tools, you can do it with the R scripts in Power BI.
  • User experience (UX) is the top priority for Microsoft in Power BI. It has incredible abilities to query data from the source, such as machine learning. Query, design, and reporting is in one tool. There is no need for additional tools.
  • It can get data from all resources, even in the reporting frame structure. There is no need for a table structure anymore. If you have unstructured data in any resource, machine learning can recognize/learn how to capture it and get data as you wish. If a data requires editing with some Excel operator (mid, left, find, etc), you no longer need to write any command. Power BI is doing it for you with machine learning technology. You just give some example about what you need in data and it recognizes/ learns how to get it and then populate it.
  • Power BI has a lot of dashboard charts, very different range, very different purpose and you can find what you need. Charts look so pretty and configuration is so easy too. If you want to create a report (using a chart), you can type what you need while you are talking to a friend. Power BI creates it simultaneously as you are writing.
  • Actually, there is one thing I can say. If you are working with huge data, depending on your computer configuration and only with the desktop (free) version, it is a little bit slow.
Microsoft BI is well suitable for Data Mining, Data Analyzing, Reporting, Data Visualizing, Prediction, Data Insight, Distributed Dashboards, Private Dashboards, Complex Data Analysis and Data gathering from any resource (Web, Excel, SQL, Access, Oracle, Text, Google Analytics, MailChimp, many more) projects.
Microsoft BI is less suitable for Big Data, especially if data is larger than a TB.
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Zee Gimon profile photo
Score 8 out of 10
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We use Microsoft Power BI for one of our client's project data management. He has a database of mobile app users who sign up for the premium account and Power BI is used to analyze the data and build a graphical representation of the given data, which is very convenient when you need to create a presentation or something (or simply want to see your data presented visually.)
  • Data analytics features - you can filter the data according to a billion (it feels like) ways and make sure your data is just what you need.
  • Graphs, charts, and everything else visual - not only you can analyze your data according to filters and everything, you can also make it look good and understandable without having to look through a ton of numbers.
  • It can handle quite large amounts of data input, so this makes it a good addition for the projects that require big data.
  • Works well with other Microsoft products (including .NET projects).
  • It's not very user-friendly (at least, not if you use it every single day and can tell where a feature is located when you wake up in the middle of the night). It takes some time to get the hang of it.
  • Sometimes it feels like there is just a bit TOO MANY features. I mean, they are all awesome, but it's easy to get lost.
If you want Excel on steroids in terms of graphs and data analysis - this is your beast. It has all kinds of visualizations available and you can filter the data to make it as precise as you want. We use it for managing the data from the mobile app and to create visual reports of the users' actions.
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Gonzalo Angeleri profile photo
Score 8 out of 10
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Microsoft BI is being used as part of a departmental implementation, especially for self-service capabilities. We build our solutions using different Microsoft BI components or tools such as Reporting Services, Integration Services, and Power BI Report Server.
  • Self Service Capabilities
  • Easy to use
  • Integration with MS Office
  • Data Quality Capabilities
  • Performance issues in Power BI with some source systems
  • Data Governance features
Well suited for:
- Customers with a Microsoft landscape who use MS Office or Office 365, SQL Server and Active Directory a lot.
- Departmental deployments.
- Self-Service Capabilities
- Small Budgets
- Mobile Capabilities

Some issues with:
- non-Microsoft environments
- Complex data sources like SAP.
- Complex calculations in Power BI

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Yemsi Pino profile photo
Score 7 out of 10
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The software is being used as a way to develop different outputs graphics for different analysis and solves problems that I and my collaborators take from field surveys for planning new strategies in order to preserve nature and biodiversity in our territory. The people that use this software are me with the data being stored in Excel sheets.
  • The customized colors and presentation
  • Introduces Excel data for graphics
  • Innovate the way we used the data and new elements for analysis
  • Printable graphics is a must
  • The whole concept of the presentation for a company is missing
  • Is not easy make changes to the graphics
The software is really well designed to make presentations and graphics once the data in the sheets are complete and there are no more corrections. Instead, if you feel that you need corrections you will have to start the process over again. It's frustrating. I think this software requires more capabilities than others, network knowledge and how the Microsoft software is connected.
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Reinaldo André Muralha profile photo
Score 9 out of 10
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Microsoft BI is being used in a department to manage Advanced Surveys. It served as a gateway to developing the reporting system for the administrators of the department doing the said surveys.
  • Easy to use.
  • Integration with other systems.
  • Quick development.
  • More advanced reporting options.
  • Reporting tools interface update.
  • Drag and drop functionalities improved.
Integrations with SQL Server or Azure databases - there is a lot of documentation online that supports this implementation, and it has very accessible pricing options.
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Haibo Yang profile photo
September 26, 2016

Think hard on your BI goals

Score 10 out of 10
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We have been using a Microsoft BI stack (SSIS SSRS and SSAS) to support our SaaS solution for almost a decade. Over sixty client organisations are now using our SaaS solution to manage their operational risks and related activities. With Microsoft BI, clients can use Report Builder to access our data sources to design, develop, publish and distribute their own reports. On the other hand, we as a service provider can use Visual Studio Data Tool to create and maintain data sources/models. I mostly get called in to design and develop sophisticated dashboards and smart KPI reports (often programming-intensive in nature) for clients when the complexity goes beyond dragging and dropping plus simple VBA expressions. Overall, our clients are happy with the reporting flexibility delivered by Microsoft BI and we ourselves are very positive with the future of this product.
  • Point 1. User defined automation of report execution and distribution. Microsoft SSRS so far is one of the most user friendly report scheduling and distribution platforms available. Our client users, often non-technical business people, can subscribe to any reports they have access to on the report server and make a customised execution by setting up parameter values, export formats, receipients, etc. etc. Many users use this feature to monitor their action lists and risk profiles on a regular basis. They absolutely love it!
  • Point 2. Extensive programmability. Programmability has always been a great strength of many Microsoft products. Adding to my point 1, take Microsoft SSRS for example, it comes with a great deal of programmability. This means what client users need do in point 1 to set up the report execution and distribution by themselves, can now be programmed and completed automatically. One trick we often do is to program on SSRS for automatically executing and distributing a report using different parameter values to generate different results and then send to the email boxes of tens, if not hundreds of line managers within client organisations. Every line manager will only receive the results relevant to his/her own business unit(s). Once set up, a client organisation can save hundreds hours of work on Excel spreadsheets each month. Clients are willing to pay you a fortune for such a level of automation in reporting process!
  • Point 3. Flexible integration with SSAS. Instead of praising the more techinical features such as partitions and actions shipped with SSAS, I'd make my point 3 to be more business user friendly by emphasising the integration options of SSAS. Excel, Power BI, SharePoint, and third party tools such as Tableau, can all be easily and nicely integrated with SSAS objects. Not to mention since MSSQL 2012 you also have got the choice between Tabular models and Multidimensional models. Your business analysts will love the flexibility SSAS can provide!
  • Point 4. Stability of the IDE. Of course this one is to me when I'm in a BI developer mode. Using Visual Studio to develop SSAS, SSIS, and SSRS objects is a relaxing experience and will be good to the longevity of your developers. Why? Because VS is stable enough to not crash your developers' computers. As a matter of fact, VS has never crashed my OS since 2008...I mean it.. though a few times before 2008...Unlike some other seemingly simpler IDEs which may freeze or overpower your OS while processing your design changes... VS is a powerful yet stable tool and your developers will love it.
  • Report Builder 3.0 shipped with MSSQL 2012 is a nice free tool but our client users sometimes encounter problems such as the tool automatically shut down without saving the changes being made. We haven't implemented the new RB with MSSQL 2016 yet thus cannot comment on the latest version.
Most suitable scenarios:
-Large scale report automation and distribution.
-Self service BI for internal and external users.
-Relational databases and multidimensional models.
-Comprehensive security & access control.

Less appropriate scenarios:
-Non-relational databases
-Low budget
-Tight timeframe

I'd invite anyone reading this far to think hard on his/her goals with BI. Are you trying to build a solid and endurable BI service for your clients or your own organisation? Or do you just need to have some quick visualisation of the data you have to make strategic or operational decisions in a few weeks time?

Implementing a MicrosoftS BI stack takes time, knowledge, and skills, none of these comes cheaply these days. If your answer to my first question is "yes", go ahead and study Microsoft BI a bit more then make your decision on your own. If you see my second question is most relevant to you, go and grab a web-based BI tool such as SiSense, Tableau, Splunk, and so on. Take the free trial option and see if you can test your ideas fast and at a lower cost. Good luck!
Read Haibo Yang's full review
Charles Saulnier profile photo
Score 8 out of 10
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We build BI solutions on our source systems through Microsoft BI. We use most of SQL Server Enterprise tools, more specifically SSRS, SSIS, SSAS; our end-users mostly work with SS Management Studio, Reporting Services and Excel. Our BI department is for external clients only, we have no internal BI infrastructure.
  • Relative ease of use of SSAS cubes for end-users
  • Versatility of SSRS for creating reports and automating their executions
  • Integration with Office 365
  • SSRS Report Builder requires more IT skills than other reporting tools
  • No SSAS actions available in Report Builder
  • Integrated security tools are not readily available; Management Studio works well for SSAS, but no way to keep track of global security attributions unless you build a report on the DB
Microsoft BI is a no-brainer for departments or enterprises who already work with MS Office or in a Windows environment, since users can easily make connections with actions they already know.

The added functionalities in Excel to connect to data sources, build tables and relationships through PowerPivot makes it a powerful tool that 99% of people already have access to. When linked with SQL Server and Power BI, you have a complete solution for analysing and visualizing data that is easy to use, but at the same time scalable to work with complex DBs and datasets.
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Alexander Lubyansky profile photo
Score 10 out of 10
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Microsoft BI is, and seemingly shall be, the "BI Tool Of Tomorrow" forever. There are few people using it at my organization. In general, whenever I tell technically savvy people in the analytics/consulting space that there's a free visualization tool in Microsoft Excel that's 90-95% as good as Tableau, they are like "What?!" Then, they forget all about it in favor of expensive clunky tools and straight up coding.

Microsoft BI is a many-times-relabelled tool for visualization and lite analytics. It's like super duper Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts that let you work with big data. As an analytics tool per se, it's as good as Excel since it is Excel. I wouldn't do any analytics heavy lifting with it personally, but you can easily do algebra stuff and make derived variables. The real business benefit is visualization. It's just very easy and powerful.
  • EASY visualization of business data. Excel is the killer app so anybody remotely good at basic office tools knows how to make PivotTables and PivotCharts. If you don't, it's really easy to learn; give it a try... People think big data visualization is hard but it's not for most business use cases.
  • FAST visualization of business data. There are BI/Analytics tools out there, some of them beginning with the letter S, that are slooow. I do my taxes waiting for them to run basic queries/filters/charts. Microsoft BI (and Tableau, etc.) create compact data models to allow for pretty fast data loading and slicery.
  • FREE or at least REALLY CHEAP visualization of business data. Who has MS Office on their business computer? Oh, everybody. If you don't have Office Pro, pony up for that or get the monthly license. The bigness of data you can run on your own machine is fairly big; don't use cloud if you don't need it. By comparison, who enjoys throwing thousands of dollars away on bloated legacy BI software? Well, too many companies, apparently.
  • More than two dimensions. Yes, I know that 2D is the core of Excel's DNA. However, we're starting to deal with higher-dimensional arrays here in analytics land so better visualization support would be cool.
  • UI weirdness. By default, you are flipping back between regular Excel tabs and super-top-secret BI tabs. You create charts in one place, but look at them in the other. That kind of stuff. I know there are a couple of other ways to interact with Microsoft BI, but please figure out the main way.
  • Better hookups to other analytics tools including Microsoft's. Microsoft BI has a good variety of data connections, and I don't expect it to bloom into a full-fledged analytics tool, but it may be a good idea to keep hammering at connectivity with "hardcore" analytics. In my case, Python stuff.

Visualization of business data: it's good, fast, and cheap. What more can you ask? With more specialized visualization needs, use Tableau or write code. For complex scientific visualizations, write code.

It's also so much easier communicating about the tool and its visuals to other people who don't spend their lives analyzing complex data. "It's Excel for Big Data!" is really quite simple.

Read Alexander Lubyansky's full review
Megan Juell profile photo
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
My company is a Microsoft partner, and we use the Microsoft BI stack throughout the organization. We mainly use it for development and implementation of ETL, database management, analytical processing, and reporting (SSMS, SSIS & SSRS). As consultants, we typically design these processes in our clients' environments (which range from SSMS versions 2008 - 2016), but also do some in-house work for internal product development.
  • Database management: Although learning all the features of Management Studio may initially seem daunting, they provide a intricate system to support the entire database environment.
  • Data flow and process management: SSMS and SSIS work together seamlessly to automate processes, allow users to create jobs to kick off their processes, and provide users a log of runtime variables, errors, and warnings.
  • Data modeling: SSAS provides a feature-rich environment to develop both multidimensional and tabular models.
  • There seems to be a slightly different language for every need: T-SQL, MDX, DAX, Excel formulas, Access DB SQL, C#, etc. While there are a wide variety of needs these meet, it would be helpful to have a more common base-language between languages with similar functionality (SSMS's T-SQL and Access' SQL, Excel formulas and DAX).
  • Reporting Services in Visual Studio tends to be a little buggy, especially when dealing with parameterized reports.
  • It would be helpful to have processing time displayed when processing tables from SSMS. I'm often forced to decide between the detailed error log that the processing dialog box displays (with no start/end times) or scripting out the job to XMLA for the gain of process start/end times but a loss of the detailed errors.
It is well suited for organizations that require a scalable environment, rich with features. Windows integrated security and role configurations also make it especially easy to configure advanced security for a large number of users. It may be less necessary/appropriate for projects with simpler needs or organizations running on operating systems other than Windows.
Read Megan Juell's full review

Feature Scorecard Summary

Pixel Perfect reports (32)
Customizable dashboards (38)
Report Formatting Templates (36)
Drill-down analysis (34)
Formatting capabilities (38)
Integration with R or other statistical packages (31)
Report sharing and collaboration (38)
Publish to Web (35)
Publish to PDF (34)
Report Versioning (31)
Report Delivery Scheduling (35)
Delivery to Remote Servers (16)
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.) (37)
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization (34)
Predictive Analytics (33)
Multi-User Support (named login) (36)
Role-Based Security Model (33)
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete) (36)
Single Sign-On (SSO) (17)
Responsive Design for Web Access (27)
Dedicated iOS Application (22)
Dedicated Android Application (22)
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile (28)
Javascript API (13)
iFrames (12)
Java API (11)
Themeable User Interface (UI) (11)
Customizable Platform (Open Source) (9)

About Microsoft BI

Microsoft BI benefits from the ubiquity of SQL server and the set of tools built around the database, including an ETL layer, master data management, data cleansing, report and reporting.

The reporting engine is SQL Server Reporting Services which does not have the visualization capabilities of visualization tools like Tableau or Qlik. Excel has historically been the platform visualization tool. Power BI for Office 365 has done much to improve the discovery and visualization capabilities of Excel.

Microsoft now offers Power BI cloud as the visualization platform with geospatial 3D, natural-language query generation, and self-service ETL along with charting and other data visualizations that can be uploaded and shared through the Power BI service.

The Power BI platform also provides live access to on-premises Microsoft SQL Server instances, and self-service access to third-party cloud sources including Salesforce, Marketo, Zendesk, and GitHub. Mobility is supported through a native iPad app, an iPhone app.

This new platform is viewed by Microsoft as a visualization layer sitting on top of their earlier generation of installed SQL-based technology.

Microsoft BI Competitors


Does not have featureFree Trial Available?No
Has featureFree or Freemium Version Available?Yes
Does not have featurePremium Consulting/Integration Services Available?No
Entry-level set up fee?No
EditionPricing DetailsTerms
Power BI$0
Power BI Pro$10per user per month

Microsoft BI Technical Details

Deployment Types:SaaS
Operating Systems: Unspecified
Mobile Application:No