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Intelligent big boy Microsoft BIMicrosoft Business Intelligence (MS BI) is integral part of our technology eco-system across whole organization. Various tools of the MS BI stack are used to Extract Transform and Load (ETL) data from various data sources and provide and platform to do analytics using pivot tables, pivot charts, power BI, SharePoint, SSRS reports, BI Semantic Model (BISM) reports etc.,Wide variety of tools : Microsoft BI possesses a wide variety of tools to cater needs of presentation, performance caching, integration and ease of use. Popular online and location communities : Online and local communities around Microsoft BI is very popular. You can find a lot of resources and helpful information online and within your communities more efficiently and effectively. Tighter and broad integration options : Microsoft BI tools are very well integrated with other Microsoft products (Office 365, SharePoint, .NET Apps, Project Server etc...) and Line of Business (LOB) applications. Being a large player in BI domain, there are various third party components available which compliment MS BI.,Visualization and presentation is an area that may need some improvement. I have used a competitive tool Tableau which has better visualization capabilities against Pivot Charts/Power BI. For ultra large organizations, certain BI solutions require more volume of data to be processed. Although Microsoft Windows Azure, HDInsight and various other big data mechanism can cater to this need, other MS BI tools like Power Pivot, SharePoint etc... need to be more performance oriented. Licensing is one aspect which is relatively more complex as compared to its competitors. Microsoft is now following subscription-model approach in a lot of areas but still there is a scope of improvement in providing more clarity and simplicity when purchasing MS BI tools.,10,Tableau, Spotfire and Apptio Technology Business Management,Tableau Server, Apptio Technology Business Management, TIBCO Spotfire Cloud Unpublished,8,7Great value for money with Microsoft's BISQL Server Management Studio provides a nice interface to view, query, and modify the database tables. The interface is user friendly and logical. Microsoft, in general, has fantastic educational pricing. This allowed the TCO to be much lower for our university. Microsoft tools integrate nicely with one another. We are also in the process of implementing SharePoint. We plan to use SSRS (.rdl) reports which will integrate with SharePoint - and also will have the ability to experiment with PowerView (.rdlx) dashboards and PowerPivot (Microsoft's in-memory BI tool).,The end-user reporting tool, Report Builder, is not that flexible. We feel that the Cognos Report Studio tool is more robust in this area.,9,,10,Firstly, reduction in cost from the three previous vendors which we were supporting. Just by replacing these legacy pieces of software, we have saved money. We are working to quantify the cost savings achieved in business improvement from the reporting that we have provided. We don't have a specific figure as of yet, but the reports that are now available 'on-the-fly' have saved many man hours. Previously, data needed to be consolidated across multiple systems which could have taken weeks of manual manipulation. Now, this data is available in one platform and we have cross-functional reporting capability.,3000,8,We use the database platform to warehouse the data from our disparate admissions, student information, human resources, finance, and advancement systems. SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) is used to move the data from these ERPs into staging - then onto our dimension model and SSAS cubes. SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is used to report on this dimensional data and provide parameterized, drill-through reporting. SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) is used to build cubes for specific functional areas. These cubes can then connect back to the dimensional data as required for drill-through analysis.,Using the enterprise version, we leveraged data-driven subscriptions. This feature allows you to publish reports to specific individuals or groups based upon data events. This has become useful for a wide variety of things. In a previous company, I used this feature to drive process improvements by notifying teams of early task completion. In some cases, we were able to drive a process that typically took 4 weeks down to a process that only took 2.5 weeks. That led to revenue gains. Since Microsoft BI contains an out-of-the-box ETL tool (SSIS), we've been able to leverage this functionality to help support other projects. Recently, we created a SalesForce integration to Workday. We have been able to setup nightly data feeds using SSIS which extract known sets of data for our statisticians. While the data isn't formatted in SAS dataset, it outputs the data in a common format that is easy for the statisticians to consume and transform into a useful SAS dataset.,,Implemented in-house Professional services company,8,Self-taught,We had Microsoft SQL BI specialists on staff. We would advise to have training on the platform otherwise.,10,No,8,10,7,Ellucian Banner. Workday HCM. Workday Financials. PeopleSoft Admissions. Apply Yourself. Sage Millennium.,We will continue to support systems that are key pillars to our business units.,Utilize Microsoft's Higher Education EES (Enrollment for Education Soulutions) licensing. This is a great value.Microsoft BI platform good for Reporting but always changing for the rest of the toolset so use caution for your needs.Our entire organization, W.B. Mason, uses Microsoft BI for reporting. Putting critical and up to date data in the hands of our sales people and managers making decisions is critical in the changing market place of Office Supplies.,SSRS Reports allows browser based access on multiple mobile devices to reports and dashboards quickly,Focus their strategy on what is offered for the toolset. I believe they are starting to clarify this. Creation of and deployment of new reports is difficult for your average end user who doesn't use Visual Studio.,7,,10,9Microsoft BI ReviewMicrosoft BI is used mainly for visualizations and dashboards,Pivot tables Charts Dashboards,Interactive mapping Web publishing of dashboards USer access,8,Tibco Spotfire Platform,TIBCO Spotfire,8,8Microsoft BI provides the best bang for your buck, now and into the future.Neudesic is a Microsoft Gold-Certified partner. One of our practices is Business Productivity, which includes SharePoint and SQL BI. The Microsoft Business Intelligence "stack" includes SQL Server for data management, including ETL (Integration Services), storage (SQL Server RDBMS engine) and a business semantic model (Analysis Services)Office 2013 and higher, specifically Excel 2013, for data presentation, management and analyticsPowerBI Developer for data presentationPowerBI for Office 365 provides a nice open security repository for Excel and Power BI data views.SharePoint 2013, as a shared portal platform, using included Reporting and Analytics site templates.SharePoint includes PerformancePoint, which is a very useful data analysis tool for Analysis Services cubes.,One Stop Shopping: Single solution provider provides tight integration between data storage, data manipulation, data processing and presentation. Instead of buying an RDBMS from one provider, data processing tools from another vendor, and presentation tools from yet another, the entire application stack is provided by Microsoft. Value: Compared to other RDBMS vendors, Microsoft BI tools are more cost-effective because all the tools needed are included in the purchase of Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint and Office. SQL Server even has a Business Intelligence Edition! Performance: The SQL Server RDBMS is a top-tier data management solution. Ancillary tools like Integration Services (SSIS), Analysis Services (SSAS), Reporting Services (SSRS), PerformancePoint are mature, full featured and include lots of performance monitoring and high availability options. The newer Power BI tools have made tremendous strides in stability and usability since their introduction last year. HDInsight and Azure BLOB storage offer a new paradigm for storing and querying data sets of all sizes. Flat files are stored in inexpensive storage, and HDInsight Hive allows "schema over file" table structures and near-ANSI SQL queries. This provides an inexpensive, very fast way to process data from web logs, large call center logs, and other large data volume data sets without importing into a database. Once the processing is complete, the HDInsight cluster (up to 64 nodes) is dropped, leaving the data intact. Azure Hybrid Scenarios: Microsoft is rapidly migrating their business offerings to Azure. Business Intelligence is no exception. Many new features in SQL Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 are designed to allow seamless management of both on-premise and cloud-based data,From Infrastructure As a Service (IaaS) options like virtual servers for development and test to Power BI for Office 365 sites that revolutionize how data is shared and accessed, Microsoft is making significant investments in the next generation of cloud-based solutions.,Power BI maturity: Power BI is a combination of add-ons for Microsoft Excel and a special Office365 hosting site. However, the primary presentation tool, Power View, has a long way to go to catch up with such competitors as Tableau and even Microsoft's current analytics platform, PerformancePoint. To address these concerns, Power BI releases are being scheduled out-of-band from normal version upgrades in order to address requirements of the user community. Office 365: There are currently size limitations, like a 250GB max for PowerPivot worksheets, which might cause issues with organizations who want to utilize very large data sets with Power BI. Messaging: Some of the marketing and best practices around the new cloud-based solutions are unclear, making it difficult for someone who doesn't work in the BI world to understand the benefits and the architecture for such solutions. Multiple data manipulation languages: Currently there are four or five distinct query languages in the Microsoft BI stack: T-SQL for SQL Server, MDX and DAX for Analysis Services, and the Power Query Formula Language for Power Query. In Integration Services, there is yet another language used in some of the tasks. That seems to be a lot to keep abreast of!,10,,10
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Microsoft BI
617 Ratings
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Ved Mishra profile photo
February 19, 2016

User Review: "Intelligent big boy Microsoft BI"

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
Microsoft Business Intelligence (MS BI) is integral part of our technology eco-system across whole organization. Various tools of the MS BI stack are used to Extract Transform and Load (ETL) data from various data sources and provide and platform to do analytics using pivot tables, pivot charts, power BI, SharePoint, SSRS reports, BI Semantic Model (BISM) reports etc.
  • Wide variety of tools : Microsoft BI possesses a wide variety of tools to cater needs of presentation, performance caching, integration and ease of use.
  • Popular online and location communities : Online and local communities around Microsoft BI is very popular. You can find a lot of resources and helpful information online and within your communities more efficiently and effectively.
  • Tighter and broad integration options : Microsoft BI tools are very well integrated with other Microsoft products (Office 365, SharePoint, .NET Apps, Project Server etc...) and Line of Business (LOB) applications. Being a large player in BI domain, there are various third party components available which compliment MS BI.
  • Visualization and presentation is an area that may need some improvement. I have used a competitive tool Tableau which has better visualization capabilities against Pivot Charts/Power BI.
  • For ultra large organizations, certain BI solutions require more volume of data to be processed. Although Microsoft Windows Azure, HDInsight and various other big data mechanism can cater to this need, other MS BI tools like Power Pivot, SharePoint etc... need to be more performance oriented.
  • Licensing is one aspect which is relatively more complex as compared to its competitors. Microsoft is now following subscription-model approach in a lot of areas but still there is a scope of improvement in providing more clarity and simplicity when purchasing MS BI tools.
I found that Tableau is more efficient in providing options to calculate measures, percentages as compared to MS BI Power Pivot. Also, Tableau is more web-friendly. However, analytic capability is well suited in Microsoft BI. Microsoft BI is well suited in larger organization setup which requires various integration with external line of business applications. Sometimes, the cost impact can be bigger for smaller organizations as they look for savings while shopping for minimum viable product.
Read Ved Mishra's full review
Robert Goodman profile photo
January 15, 2016

Microsoft BI Review: "Great value for money with Microsoft's BI"

Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • SQL Server Management Studio provides a nice interface to view, query, and modify the database tables. The interface is user friendly and logical.
  • Microsoft, in general, has fantastic educational pricing. This allowed the TCO to be much lower for our university.
  • Microsoft tools integrate nicely with one another. We are also in the process of implementing SharePoint. We plan to use SSRS (.rdl) reports which will integrate with SharePoint - and also will have the ability to experiment with PowerView (.rdlx) dashboards and PowerPivot (Microsoft's in-memory BI tool).
  • The end-user reporting tool, Report Builder, is not that flexible. We feel that the Cognos Report Studio tool is more robust in this area.
Read Robert Goodman's full review
Deanne Damato profile photo
February 12, 2016

Review: "Microsoft BI platform good for Reporting but always changing for the rest of the toolset so use caution for your needs."

Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
Our entire organization, W.B. Mason, uses Microsoft BI for reporting. Putting critical and up to date data in the hands of our sales people and managers making decisions is critical in the changing market place of Office Supplies.
  • SSRS Reports allows browser based access on multiple mobile devices to reports and dashboards quickly
  • Focus their strategy on what is offered for the toolset. I believe they are starting to clarify this.
  • Creation of and deployment of new reports is difficult for your average end user who doesn't use Visual Studio.
For companies who have developers on hand and a huge investment in SQL as a database platform, the BI stack makes the most sense.
Read Deanne Damato's full review
Alain Quesnel profile photo
February 10, 2016

"Microsoft BI Review"

Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
Microsoft BI is used mainly for visualizations and dashboards
  • Pivot tables
  • Charts
  • Dashboards
  • Interactive mapping
  • Web publishing of dashboards
  • USer access
Microsoft BI integrates seamlessly with MSSQL tables and cubes. The mobile app is also very easy to use and set up, This makes it very easy to access data from anywhere, using a phone or tablet.
Read Alain Quesnel's full review
Chris Utter profile photo
March 21, 2015

Review: "Microsoft BI provides the best bang for your buck, now and into the future."

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Neudesic is a Microsoft Gold-Certified partner. One of our practices is Business Productivity, which includes SharePoint and SQL BI. The Microsoft Business Intelligence "stack" includes

  1. SQL Server for data management, including ETL (Integration Services), storage (SQL Server RDBMS engine) and a business semantic model (Analysis Services)
  2. Office 2013 and higher, specifically Excel 2013, for data presentation, management and analytics
  3. PowerBI Developer for data presentation
  4. PowerBI for Office 365 provides a nice open security repository for Excel and Power BI data views.
  5. SharePoint 2013, as a shared portal platform, using included Reporting and Analytics site templates.
  6. SharePoint includes PerformancePoint, which is a very useful data analysis tool for Analysis Services cubes.
  • One Stop Shopping: Single solution provider provides tight integration between data storage, data manipulation, data processing and presentation. Instead of buying an RDBMS from one provider, data processing tools from another vendor, and presentation tools from yet another, the entire application stack is provided by Microsoft.
  • Value: Compared to other RDBMS vendors, Microsoft BI tools are more cost-effective because all the tools needed are included in the purchase of Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint and Office. SQL Server even has a Business Intelligence Edition!
  • Performance: The SQL Server RDBMS is a top-tier data management solution. Ancillary tools like Integration Services (SSIS), Analysis Services (SSAS), Reporting Services (SSRS), PerformancePoint are mature, full featured and include lots of performance monitoring and high availability options. The newer Power BI tools have made tremendous strides in stability and usability since their introduction last year.
  • HDInsight and Azure BLOB storage offer a new paradigm for storing and querying data sets of all sizes. Flat files are stored in inexpensive storage, and HDInsight Hive allows "schema over file" table structures and near-ANSI SQL queries. This provides an inexpensive, very fast way to process data from web logs, large call center logs, and other large data volume data sets without importing into a database. Once the processing is complete, the HDInsight cluster (up to 64 nodes) is dropped, leaving the data intact.
  • Azure Hybrid Scenarios: Microsoft is rapidly migrating their business offerings to Azure. Business Intelligence is no exception.
  • Many new features in SQL Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 are designed to allow seamless management of both on-premise and cloud-based data,From Infrastructure As a Service (IaaS) options like virtual servers for development and test to Power BI for Office 365 sites that revolutionize how data is shared and accessed, Microsoft is making significant investments in the next generation of cloud-based solutions.
  • Power BI maturity: Power BI is a combination of add-ons for Microsoft Excel and a special Office365 hosting site. However, the primary presentation tool, Power View, has a long way to go to catch up with such competitors as Tableau and even Microsoft's current analytics platform, PerformancePoint. To address these concerns, Power BI releases are being scheduled out-of-band from normal version upgrades in order to address requirements of the user community.
  • Office 365: There are currently size limitations, like a 250GB max for PowerPivot worksheets, which might cause issues with organizations who want to utilize very large data sets with Power BI.
  • Messaging: Some of the marketing and best practices around the new cloud-based solutions are unclear, making it difficult for someone who doesn't work in the BI world to understand the benefits and the architecture for such solutions.
  • Multiple data manipulation languages: Currently there are four or five distinct query languages in the Microsoft BI stack: T-SQL for SQL Server, MDX and DAX for Analysis Services, and the Power Query Formula Language for Power Query. In Integration Services, there is yet another language used in some of the tasks. That seems to be a lot to keep abreast of!
Any organization that requires a full-featured, high performance data storage and analytics platform should consider the Microsoft BI stack. However, many organizations are tied to another RDBMS system because of critical business applications like SAP or Oracle EBS, and their internal development and support teams are experts in a different stack. In those cases, integrating the Microsoft Business Intelligence stack can require a steeper learning curve than "Microsoft shops".
Read Chris Utter's full review
Senthil Vallinayagam profile photo
June 10, 2015

Microsoft BI Review: ""MS BI" = $$$"

Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
Microsoft BI is used intensely by Engineering department. The whole product is built around with Microsoft BI stack. The database is built using SQL Server 2008 R2 and cubes built using SSAS. Delivers the SaaS model of the company.
  • Some of the rolling metrics calculations are performed using SSAS cubes. Eg: YoY, YTD, etc
  • Slicing and Dicing of reports becomes increasingly simple with the SSAS cubes.
  • ETL operations are made nimble with SQL server 2008 R2
  • Some of the newer aggregation functions that are used in advanced analytics are missing. Eg: lastNonEmpty ()
  • SSAS (from the BI Stack) adapters to interact with MPP are not entirely nimble
Small scale cubes (SSAS) where the size is in the order of few 100 Gigs are suitable for MS SSAS. For higher volume, the aggregation and processing is a lot longer.
Read Senthil Vallinayagam's full review
Steve Wake profile photo
February 04, 2015

User Review: "Why is Microsoft BI Right for Me?"

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
Microsoft BI that is part of SQL Server 2014 is very easy to install and configure in either a department or enterprise setting. I have experience in both scenarios with multiple different clients in various industries. There is also a lot flexibility in how you install/configure the Microsoft BI tools, depending on what type of solutions you are looking to implement. If you need just an ETL (Extract, Transform & Load) solution to get a data mart up and running using data from multiple sources or if you need a quick web based reporting solution. You have the options to put each of the Microsoft BI tools on separate servers (virtual or physical) or one server and you can then scale out or up on each of these options as needed over time. All of the tools use a standard set of development tools provided either with SQL Server or available for free from Microsoft's website. These tools are all using the Visual Studio engine and provide a very easy to learn environment, especially for those that have done any development in Visual Studio in the past. The end users will be able to easily interact with the solutions you build either through the web or in tools they are most familiar with like Excel.
  • SSIS is by far the easiest and most efficient ETL (Extract, Transform & Load) tool available, after trying many different tools over the years there is no tool that is more flexible and easier to develop solutions with. What takes days/weeks or longer to setup in other tools can be done in at least half the time and perform better.
  • SSRS is one of the best web reporting tools available for companies of any size that doesn't require you to re-architect your entire existing database structure. SSRS can connect to all of the major databases and work with data from multiple of them all in the same report. For web reporting that needs to be up and running fast, but be secure and easy to develop on there is no better tool available today.
  • SSAS is for more in depth analysis of your data and it has the same capabilities as all other Microsoft tools to connect to multiple data sources and present the data to the user in standardized format. Most users will love that they can access so much of the companies data in Excel using the PivotTables that they probably already use today, but now you are controlling the data and know that it is the correct data. With the new Tabular capabilities in SQL Server 2012 and up it allows end users to help build the initial version of these complex data structures which can then be migrated over to IT to add security, automation and quality control to the final solution.
  • The development tools for Microsoft BI in SQL Server 2012 and up are in a bit of flux at the moment. Initially with SQL Server 2012 they were all fully integrated and available with the installer, but now they have moved to it being a separate web download that you have know which version you need to get it working correctly with the version of SQL Server you are working on. Thankfully all of these tools still use Visual Studio as the starting point, but it would be nice to see the tools better integrated going forward and still able to be updated on a regular basis.
  • SSRS has not seen any major updates in the last couple of versions of SQL Server and it could really benefit from some of the new advancements that Microsoft has made with the Power BI line of products that are only available if you use the cloud based Office 365 service. It would be really nice to see some of the features that are available in Power BI added to SSRS to make it a more complete web based reporting tool and more accessible to end users as well as IT.
Microsoft BI works across many different scenarios and solutions, so it is an ideal tool for small department roll outs that may grow to full enterprise solutions or even starting at the enterprise level. The biggest thing to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to use SSRS is are you going to be able to support all of the group's reporting needs as it does not have a good end-user report development tool at this point (Report Builder is no longer being supported by Microsoft). SSRS is meant to be an IT driven reporting environment where the report formats are very rigid and the reports need to be delivered to a set of users by a specific time every hour/week/day/month. SSRS is NOT an ad-hoc reporting tool and should never be thought of that way. If you are looking for ad-hoc analysis of data then you should consider setting up either Multi-Dimensional or Tabular structures in SSAS and then the users can access those structures in Excel and create "reports" in Excel to show it. If you are looking for a way to get control of your data and end the Excel "spreadmarts" then the tools provided in SQL Server Microsoft BI will help with that given that you have the time and resources to develop that solution.
Read Steve Wake's full review
Lee Cullom profile photo
February 03, 2015

Review: "Microsoft BI -- Say GoodBI to the Competition for the Moment."

Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Northcraft Analytics use Microsoft BI for IT Performance Management analysis, along with other visualization and analysis technologies such as Tableau, Microstrategy and Qlikview (to a limited extent). Northcraft Analytics is a provider of BI platform independent applications, so we support our customers across a wide range of verticals leveraging Microsoft Analysis Services/XML/A as the core of our Hybrid Olap (HOLAP) architecture, along with the data warehouse. Some key use cases for analysis would include:

- Incident Assignment Bottleneck Analysis

- Service Level Agreement Breach Identification and Probabilistic Prediction

- Configuration Management Analysis - Aging, Mean Time Between Incident and Adoption Analysis

Northcraft Analytics helps our customer base leverage their existing technology investments to analyze and improve IT performance.

  • Connecting andJoining Multiple Data Sources Together - Multi-Dimensional SSAS
  • Usability in Report Creation for Business Analysts (Excel via Analysis Services specifically), Executives (Performance Point and Power BI) and Power Users (Report Builder)
  • Collaboration (via SharePoint only, before the release of Power BI Designer)
  • Speed of Analysis - Specifically when leveraging SSAS on databases up to 5 TB
  • Speed of ETL processing - Multiple Parallel Sequential Jobs with SSIS/DTS
  • Parallel Sequential job Processing within the SSIS GUI, not using DTS
  • More Options for non-SharePoint portal Integration
  • Reporting Services performance browser rendering time for reports

Appropriate:

  • SSAS - Cross-Process Area Analysis - On the server side, tying multiple data sources together for a single analyst view
  • Enabling Collaboration via the SharePoint Portal for enhanced communication across a large organization
  • Analyst Usability and Report Sharing- Breaking beyond the traditional Excel limitations associated with static spreadsheets and record limits (with SSAS only, Server stored data sources and Excel Services)
  • Simple Data Mining and Predictive Analysis - Introduce the organization to more advanced Analysis without having to hire a Math Department

Not Appropriate:

  • Non-SharePoint portals - This review was written before the full release of Power BI with HTML5 capability. While reporting services can publish to other portals via iframes, it's best to stay within the Microsoft technology stack for simple & quick wins.
  • Mobile Device Access - Performance Point only works on an iPad. That is being addressed by PowerBI, but Tableau has had superior mobile device access for some time. Report Builder reports can render in HTML5 with SQL 2012, but the performance could be stronger.
Read Lee Cullom's full review
Stephanie Grice profile photo
November 13, 2014

Microsoft BI Review: "Thoughts on MS BI"

Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Overall it is a robust BI platform that is not difficult for a technically-oriented person to learn and use.
  • I am a huge fan of Analysis Services and actively try to find ways to get data into cubes for reporting. While learning MDX may be one of the more difficult aspects of MS BI, it is powerful and anyone who has prior experience using T-SQL alone to build complex reports can appreciate its power.
  • I have been disappointed in how all the front-end delivery tools have been centered around Excel and SharePoint. I understand it from a business sense but I much preferred the ProClarity interface as a stand-alone ad-hoc reporting tool. Many end-users are intimidated by merely mentioning pivot tables and therefore do not even try to create their own queries.
Read Stephanie Grice's full review
Sean Warren profile photo
November 04, 2014

Microsoft BI Review: "Microsoft Power BI - Excel Lovers Dream"

Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
We use Microsoft Power BI across all departments in our company. Power BI is used in reporting and data mining. This allows us to see trends and to identify areas of concern with in our hospital systems that we currently serve. The distribution through Microsoft SharePoint allows for a high adoption rate.
  • Ease of use: For end user Microsoft Power BI is incredibly easy to use. Excel is simple for most people. The presentation through SharePoint gives users with any medium the ability to instantly use the dashboards. End users are able to use mobile, local and just about anyway they would choose.
  • High Adoption Rate: We had a very high adoption rate causing many of our users to be incredibly engaged. The adoption of is due to many users already familiar with the tools they grew up on. If you grew up on Excel, then you will instantly feel at home in the tools. The new add ons are rarely a challenge even for novice users.
  • Mapping functions: The mapping functions are one of the cooler features. Power Maps automatically recognizes zip codes and other addresses much like other packages. The one item I really liked was the ability to create a movie file that would play over time showing the growth across a map through the different areas. Saved as a MP4 then blended with music made this function particularly delicious for many of our end users.
  • The Gateway: MS has provided a really cool little trick. The Gateway. I will explain this part later in my review.
  • On the occasion some of the plug ins run unusually slow. I don't know if it's because they run in Silver Light or what. :) The plug ins have locked up more than once (once a week). My installation got so slow that I had to actually reinstall a couple of times over the past year. Is this a show stopper? For me, it was not. There are other features that keep me glued in. The office repair utility makes the re install a snap and if you are a realistic Microsoft fan, then you almost come to expect it.
  • The natural Language selection: We are a MS SQL house and we love MS. We have the skills for high end SQL statements with a full development staff but we still wanted to try the natural language selection tool. To no avail. We tried redoing the data and that did not work either. I'd call this beta still.
  • I would like to see them improve their visualizations. They are Microsoft and can easily compete with some of the visualizations of Micro Strategy, Tableau and Domo. They simply choose not to.
Microsoft has pulled a great trick. The trick is getting you into the pricing for only $20 to $50 dollars a month. They then made it very easy to push to the SharePoint site and keep it updated with free gateway product that will keep your reports live and consistently updated. Now here is a gotcha....IF you use the Data modeling tool (Power Query) for example that is then connected to a large database, you will have no issues. The issues begin at publishing information to SharePoint. There is a size limitation to how large the excel sheet can be. I would point out that we are not making large spread sheets with Pivot tables and millions of rows of data. We are simply connecting through Power Query. The sheet is still very small but the issue is the data model size. This is tapped at a gig on SharePoint. To be considered a true enterprise product, this size limitation will have to be overcome.

There is a (not sure if beta or not) version of some of the power views that can be done in Power BI. These views when rendered locally are wonderful. When they are rendered from the web, they can take a little longer. The part that can be agonizing is the showing views through HTML5. This is almost unworkable when using power maps or maps through power view. The response is so jittery that it is almost unusable.
Read Sean Warren's full review
Jacob Saunders profile photo
November 04, 2014

Microsoft BI Review: "Best TCO of any comprehensive database and analytics platform"

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • The Microsoft Business Intelligence stack has come a very long way since its inception. For value and TCO there's really no comparison. Where other vendors charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for database systems, ETL tools, MDM solutions, reporting portals, etc. Microsoft ties all this functionality and more together for the price of just one of those components. Developers that know the toolset well are readily available worldwide and at a lower cost than those with expertise in competing platforms. In partnership with both Dell and HP, Microsoft has recommended reference architectures running on commodity hardware to create highly performant, highly available warehousing and OLTP systems. The SharePoint layer adds a rich user interface and collaboration platform for analytics, data discovery, reporting (both ad-hoc and scheduled) and data driven subscriptions.
  • The Microsoft platform - today - comes up short in cross-platform delivery. While efforts are being made to port the Power BI tools to HTML5, so far these tools are only available with this rendering engine in the online (O365) version of the platform. Silverlight is a dying technology, and it can be frustrating to explain the design and interop limitations of the end user facing dashboard tools. For true styled enterprise dashboarding where the look and feel of the artifacts is important (external audiences), it's often necessary to turn to a Microsoft partner tool such as Dundas to augment the stack. These problems will resolve themselves over time, but right now Microsoft comes up short in this area.
  • The MDM solution in the Microsoft toolset, Master Data Services, is effectively a blank slate. This is both a strength and a weakness, in that you can model any data domain imaginable without being pushed in a particular direction but having some basic customer or other key domains available either via Codeplex or otherwise would be helpful. Additionally, record lineage isn't handled well OOTB in MDS and this key function shouldn't require a custom implementation.
Read Jacob Saunders's full review
Julia Gusman profile photo
September 25, 2014

Microsoft BI Review: "Microsoft - Your Old Trusted Friend?"

Score 1 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
We see Microsoft BI used at many organisations and it seems to be just another obvious answer when it comes to decisions about technology - Microsoft is very firmly embedded in many companies. Reminds me a bit of my parents who still think "Microsoft" is synonymous with "Computer". What I would really like to know is how much Microsoft BI as a set of tools is a conscious choice rather than historical decision or a habit?
  • Users might complain about products and technologies but somehow it seems Microsoft is an accepted standard. The brand is very strong, people just don't question it and forgive 'bugs' more readily than they might with other products.
  • It is an easy choice to buy a Microsoft product - people are less likely to challenge this decision. Again, simply due to strong brand recognition users often feel comfortable with the tools.
  • SQL Server Data Integration (also knows as SSIS) seems to provide most functionality you would expect from an ETL tool. However, when you start using it you quickly find out that most transformations perform slower than equivalent functionality when coded directly in SQL. So you go ahead with creating joins, using case statements and data type conversions directly in SQL input statements and potentially end up with a huge piece of code that performs nicely but is hardly maintainable in the future.
  • The development environment takes quite a while to get used to. Once you are all set up and doing your development work it is all fine but if you accidentally close some window or 'pane' just figuring out how to get it back can take quite some time.
Many companies consider SSIS as 'free' since it comes included with the SQL server database. It seems an obvious choice if your data resides in SQL server to go ahead and utilize Microsoft BI tools. Notice, this is not the only option you have but one that many people would consider convenient. However, if most of your data does not reside in SQL server already, consider a wider choice of options for your BI. Another factor is the availability of skilled resources to maintain your BI environment. Due to its popularity on the market you will find most of people in the BI world are able to work with Microsoft BI.
Read Julia Gusman's full review
Mashhood Syed profile photo
September 14, 2014

Review: "Microsoft BI - A good all around suite of products for the traditional data environment"

Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
The reports I put together in SSRS were used by multiple departments totaling over 50 business users. SSIS was used by 3 individuals in the IT department including myself. I deployed reports to the SSRS Report Server which were viewed in a browser on the company's intranet. The reports could be viewed, downloaded in multiple formats (PDF, XLS, CSV, TIFF), subscribed to via email, scheduled to be received on a interval of the user's choosing.

The business problems that it addresses are:
1. How do our customers feel about us (based on customer satisfaction surveys)
2. How well are we managing our operations?
3. How well are we utilizing our resources?
4. How well are the salespeople doing (based on daily rankings)
5. How profitable were we last week, month, quarter, year...
The list goes on...
  • The interfaces of the products are familiar to most people that currently use Microsoft products so its comfortable in that respect
  • Creating a report is easy to do with drag/drop functionality. You also have alot of dropdowns. You can use formulas the same way you do in Excel. They have "expressions" which are like formulas with a mix of SQL.
  • Publishing a report to the server is simple as well. You go to the server and upload the file from your file directory.
  • Setting up subscriptions is simple as well. Anyone can do it with minimal knowledge. Its sort of like creating a recurring calendar event.
  • The hierarchy within SSRS is intuitive. A Project is the top level item. You can add as many reports as you want to a project. Similar to any other IDE where you keep all your files in one project (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JSP, Servlet) except in the case of SSRS its all reports.
  • Whether you choose to use 2008 or 2012 the interface is layed pretty much the same. So if you start of in 2008 and then upgrade, you dont have to re-learn anything. Their are slight differences in the two versions but it wont hinder your ability to build a report.
  • Its not a web based application yet. So you have to install the client application on your local machine. In addition, you pretty much have to install a the full SSMS package. Its a heavy weighted suite of products
  • Compared to Tableau you are limited in your dashboard building ability. In SSRS you have to build a master report along with a subreport where these two items have to have a key that links them together. From there you can break up the screen into multiple quadratics with your visualization.
  • If someone wants to view the report on their iPad, you have to make sure that the subscription for their report is in PDF or CSV format. If its in Excel and they dont have Excel on their iPad, they cant view it. If its in CSV, I believe the report will open up in the iPads native spreadsheet app.
  • When you are stuck while building a report, the forums for Microsoft pretty much suck. Their technical articles suck also. Microsoft support is pretty much non-existent.
I think that Microsoft BI products are suited well for companies that have traditional data needs. To be more specific, if your data is organized nicely into a RDBMS (SQL Server, Oracle) and you want a way to distribute it easily across your organization, then SSRS can get the job done very well for you. The best situation is where you are purely a Microsoft shop. In that instance, all these products work seamlessly with SQL Server. If you have really specific needs like real time visualization, dashboarding, ability to blend data from multiple data sources then Microsoft BI may not be the right product for you as of yet.
Read Mashhood Syed's full review
Asif Paracha profile photo
March 30, 2015

User Review: "Why I Love Microsoft BI."

Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
Microsoft BI is used in our organization for data analysis and reporting. It Is used in IT department that supports business. It is really a great tool for BI and makes complex analysis very easy.
  • User Friendly
  • Fast
  • Reliable
  • Improve Data Visualization
Microsoft BI is not suited for real time large data analysis.
Read Asif Paracha's full review
Jerome Lambert, PhD profile photo
November 06, 2014

Review: "Microsoft BI entering 21st century for its analytical capabilities"

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
Microsoft BI allows us to blend the data exactly the way we want. Using the various add-ins provided (PowerPivot, PowerQuery, PowerView), we can design clean and scalable reports to take actionable decisions. Business problems addressed? Represent into a single chart 6 different data sources!
  • Create relationships between data sources
  • Automatic updates when new data are fetched
  • Ease of use, especially for non-technical people like me.
Microsoft BI is perfect for this type of scenario (even if lots of other scenarios can be envisioned): I need the last 2 weeks of data from the data source X and the previous weeks from the data source Y. PowerQuery will allow to reach such challenges and will be updated automatically every week.
Read Jerome Lambert, PhD's full review
Shawn Lee profile photo
November 04, 2014

Microsoft BI Review: "Tools and Integration"

Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • ETL and Cube reporting through Excel are the two main functions where Microsoft BI excels.
  • Without Sharepoint, web reporting is not very robust. SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) provides limited functionality but, without Sharepoint integration, Microsoft BI doesn't match up well against other products.
Microsoft was able to assist us in building dynamic row level security into the SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) cubes. This is, typically, a difficult thing to accomplish at a database level.
Read Shawn Lee's full review
Michał Becker profile photo
September 19, 2014

User Review: "Microsoft BI"

Score 4 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
Microsoft BI is used by everyone in my organisation as a back-end solution. We use different tools which use SQL Server and SSIS as an ETL platform and SSAS only to store Cubes for further processing with Excel or any other tool supporting SSAS.
  • Quite nice ETL options in SSIS that enable a lot of flexibility.
  • Powerful user rights management.
  • Ease of use - this tool is difficult to use.
  • Native visualization tool - Excel is too unstable.
Microsoft BI is not recommended if you do not have a specialist already on board because you need one with this tool.
Read Michał Becker's full review
Frederic Freyermuth ☁ profile photo
September 12, 2014

Microsoft BI Review: "Useful but reporting could be more sexy..."

Score 6 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
Microsoft BI is being used by 2 departments: Financial Controlling and Quality. It addresses financial reporting issues on a monthly basis and overall quality reporting in terms of SLA and customer answers.
  • Integration process in IT Architecture
  • Ability to adapt with process
  • Graphical standard reporting
  • Using on premise, could be great to use it in the cloud
How clear is your process? What type of reporting do you need?
What kind of sources do you have?
Read Frederic Freyermuth ☁'s full review
Nathan Patrick Taylor profile photo
April 05, 2014

Review: "Microsoft BI and Parallel Data Warehouse in Ambulatory Healthcare"

Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
We are currently using Microsoft's Parallel Data Warehouse and BI solution across the whole organization. The Alliance hosts an EMR for a network of community health centers. Each health center's data is warehoused on the platform. We also exchange data with organizations outside our network. Like most data warehouse solutions, the problem it addresses is the aggregations and collection of data in a central location. Since the Alliance operates in the healthcare industry we use the tools for patient quality and performance improvement. We have a longer term goal of introducing healthcare analytics.
  • The parallel data warehouse is a massive storage appliance with exceptional speed.
  • The platform is all Microsoft and integrates well with all other Microsoft products and infrastructure.
  • Microsoft's support of the product has been outstanding.
  • Power View is a quick and easy tool to use for developing dynamic dashboards but lacks some very basic features. The color scheme and styles are applied across all views with no method for choosing which colors apply to certain objects. Users cannot rename visual components, you must make sure you cube field have the names you intend end users to see.
  • Report Builder allows for quite a bit of customization but we found it be missing some the features that make other application like Crystal Reports so easy to use. Simple features such as moving columns within a table can be a bit frustrating. Formatting text and writing formulas (expressions) is easier in Crystal Reports.
  • Parallel Data Warehouse is not a true SQL Server 2012 database and is missing much of the SQL Server 2012 feature set.
For PDW, if you keep in mind that it is simply a data store (a really fast and efficient data store) that will help you understand how the other Microsoft tools tools fit in the stack.
Read Nathan Patrick Taylor's full review
Scott Lerner profile photo
July 21, 2014

"Microsoft BI tool provides the visibility into the business that could make strategic decisions at a low cost with ease of implementation."

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
Microsoft BI is being utilized throughout the organization. Executive management and sales representatives are looking not only at sales but profitability all the way down to the transaction level. Product Management continues to look and analyze profitability at the product level as well. The company has been “healthier” since implementing Microsoft BI from a profitability and cash standpoint.
  • Easy to use and create KPI's with Dashboards for a wide user base
  • Pulling data from multiple sources via Excel
  • Easily supportive
  • Low cost to maintain
  • More end user friendly Dashboard designer.
We selected Microsoft’s BI tool for the fact that a tool was needed to measure the company above and beyond “just sales”. We also needed a tool that could grow with Graham-Field. While there were many tools to choose from during the section process, having a Microsoft platform from data to portals makes the Microsoft BI tool a much easier choice from both an integration and implementation standpoint.
Read Scott Lerner's full review
Christopher Wagner profile photo
May 30, 2014

User Review: "Microsoft BI- Delivering Power"

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Reseller
Review Source
We use Microsoft BI to build out platforms that allow a wide range of users and audiences to interact with relevant data in near real time. This allows the users to make better business decisions enabling them to increase sales, manage expenses, and avoid risks.
  • Microsoft BI is very easy to use and provides a number of interfaces that allow developers to build out solutions in the manner that is easiest for them. Development can be done nearly entirely through GUI interfaces, or you can do advanced programming and application integration.
  • Microsoft BI provides enterprise class Business Intelligence for a fraction of the price of their competitors while at the same time making it far easier to manage the entire platform.
  • Microsoft BI is already integrated with your entire Office suite and easily integrates with SharePoint, SQL, all Microsoft Products, as well as any third party software or data you use.
  • The latest versions of Microsoft BI has addressed nearly all of my complaints. The only remaining item would be the ability to uniformly color coordinate metrics across the entire reporting platform. Example, automatically Profit should be Green while Loss should be Red in any chart. Or Wisconsin should be Green and Minnesota should be Purple. This is VERY minor to me, but to some customers this can be a bigger deal.
I can no longer envision a reason I would not recommend Microsoft BI to a customer in nearly any situation that they were looking to solve a BI problem.
Read Christopher Wagner's full review
Bryan Simmons profile photo
October 20, 2013

User Review: "Microsoft BI"

Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Great BI solution that is low cost.
  • Integrates very well with other Microsoft Office tools such as Excel so end users do not need extensive training on a new reporting tool.
  • No end user controlled reporting. An analyst with SQL coding knowledge needs to program each report.
Read Bryan Simmons's full review
Sean Brady profile photo
September 06, 2013

Microsoft BI Review: "Build a highly automated and flexible BI solution for your organization!"

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Analysis Services by far outperforms in-memory ROLAP type systems - this allows for very fast ad-hoc drill-down and discovery of huge data sets. Don't believe otherwise - I can assure you it is true. Of course, you have to know what you are doing on the data modeling side in order to get there.
  • Analysis Services's ability to integrate with Reporting Services and Microsoft Excel is extremely attractive to business users, especially analysts who are very familiar with the powerful analysis tools already in Excel. The performance of reports built on Analysis Services is really a stand-out feature as well.
  • Integration Services is hands-down the most flexible and powerful ETL tool you have ever used. Just try it - there is no one else even close. You will be able to pull data from anywhere, push data to anywhere, and build just about any workflow you can think of around those processes. It is also an all-around great automation tool for your BI environment.
  • Reporting Services has both a feature-rich developer-oriented authoring environment (Visual Studio / BI Development Studio) as well as a simplified end-user authoring tool (Report Builder). It has an enormous collection of visualization components built in, as well as an even bigger set of 3rd party controls to allow you to create just about any report you can imagine. The ability to extend Reporting Services with .Net code (if you have the developers) expands your options even further.
  • The report authoring solutions in Reporting Services could be better, especially on the Report Builder (end-user oriented) side.
Although it is technically a different product, you can build a really nice self-service intranet reporting solution by integrating Reporting Services into Microsoft SharePoint (Enterprise). I would highly recommend going in that direction if you are looking to deploy this stack.
Also, remember that Excel is your friend! No, it should never be used to store data, but it is an amazingly flexible and powerful analysis and reporting tool - especially when combined with Power Pivot and SharePoint.
Read Sean Brady's full review
Aidan Henderson profile photo
October 08, 2013

Microsoft BI Review: "MS BI - Good and getting better"

Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Integration is straightforward to a variety of platforms using SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS).
  • SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) is fast, flexible and extensive.
  • Native integration with Excel & Sharepoint provide a rich and familiar user interface for adoption.
  • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is not as extensive as it should or could be.
  • PerformancePoint has some great features such as the decomposition tree (for root cause analysis), but it is way too hard to deploy.
Read Aidan Henderson's full review

Feature Scorecard Summary

Pixel Perfect reports (28)
7.9
Customizable dashboards (34)
7.9
Report Formatting Templates (32)
8.2
Drill-down analysis (30)
8.2
Formatting capabilities (34)
8.4
Integration with R or other statistical packages (27)
8.1
Report sharing and collaboration (34)
8.9
Publish to Web (31)
8.3
Publish to PDF (30)
8.8
Report Versioning (27)
8.1
Report Delivery Scheduling (31)
7.6
Delivery to Remote Servers (12)
8.1
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.) (33)
8.4
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization (30)
7.9
Predictive Analytics (30)
8.0
Multi-User Support (named login) (32)
8.4
Role-Based Security Model (29)
8.1
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete) (32)
8.6
Single Sign-On (SSO) (14)
8.5
Responsive Design for Web Access (24)
8.2
Dedicated iOS Application (19)
8.4
Dedicated Android Application (19)
8.1
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile (25)
8.3
REST API (11)
7.9
Javascript API (12)
8.3
iFrames (11)
7.7
Java API (10)
7.5
Themeable User Interface (UI) (10)
7.8
Customizable Platform (Open Source) (8)
7.4

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

Pricing

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