Formatting capabilities (52)
Report sharing and collaboration (52)
Customizable dashboards (52)
Report Formatting Templates (50)
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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.
While my review may seem at times critical its the familiarity of the tools (Excel), ease of use, and price that make Microsoft BI the recommended tool for the small to medium size company looking for BI.
These are low risk and very proven traditional BI tools. However, while they are a very good fit for a wide variety of scenarios, other vendors are now offering features and approaches that are worth considering. If an organization does not already use some other Microsoft products like SQL Server, Office, and SharePoint then they might want to consider some of the other competing products. Simply put, if you are already using SQL Server and/or Microsoft Office and/or SharePoint then Microsoft BI makes a lot of sense
- Low cost of ownership
- Depth and range of solutions deployed
- Future developments, such as PowerView, show an evolving platform that we can grow with.