It's Excel for Big Data. So easy, so cheap, so fast, and powerful enough most everything.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.,10,Tableau Desktop, Google Analytics, Google Charts, SAP Crystal Reports, SAS Visual Analytics, SAS Analytics, QlikView and D3.js,Tableau Desktop, Anaconda, Google Drive,8,7,20,,Familiarity. It's Excel. It's a spreadsheet. Come on. Thinking in matrices (PivotTables) takes a little getting used to, but it's not hard. For people without a good high school math background, it may seem unintuitive. Charts and PivotCharts are fairly easy, but Microsoft has a ways to go to make them less ugly.,Data source connections. It's sometimes difficult to replace and update connections. Dropping certain types of fields into the Pivot Table (example: default aggregation type for values). The weird interface. Microsoft tried to have it both ways by using the standard Excel interface for some tasks, and the "Power" interface for others. It's just awkward, cumbersome, and confusing.,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 reviewEasy development tools with ability to support large data.,Features of the predictive analytics are not the best in the industry yet.,9,,10,Rapid report development, simple web-based reporting tools, easy support, common development techniques.,60,5,SQL Server Data Warehouse and Microsoft BI platform allow us to collect data from transactional sources, transform to reportable format, and aggregate to a level that can be used to measure business operational metrics.,,Implemented in-house,9,Self-taught,Yes, it was a simple deployment due to ease of the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) UI.,9,No,8,9,9,7,Microsoft SharePoint,Defined price versus value, and finalized support terms.Microsoft Power BI - Excel Lovers DreamWe 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.,9,,8,7,Mapping: Power Maps and Power Views displayed as Maps are awesome. The drill down ability into those is one of my favorites of showing. The ability to add other plugins from the apps store can be very nice as well. There are several of those visualizations that are very nice. Dashboards can be very easy to create but what is elegant? There is a Power BI app for Windows 8 that was compelling enough run VMWARE inside of a Mac. Very slick presentation of the same data as online but not as slick can be.,Understanding the license model. As an example we found it very hard figure out exactly what constitutes someone needing a license to even read file from SharePoint and not needing one. There were several occasions that we published what we thought was clean data and the end consumer would not need to have a license only to find out that the user would still be required to have a license. Sounds simple enough to understand but it was not. There are a few features that should translate all the way through Power BI from Excel. As an example Power BI can recognize types of data like Zip codes but even dates in Power View, Power Pivot are not able to be 'Grouped by" by qtr or month. If you are going to group on those you have to add it to the dbase. Yet, Excel will easily group on those in a normal pivot table. HTML5 versions of the presentation on the web have the jitters. very difficult to zoom in our out with any browser or versions of browsers. Stick with the regular version and wait for the HTML 5 version to be updated.,Yes,8Review by a Microsoft BI consultantI work for Mariner LLC and they are Microsoft gold certified partners specialized in implementing data warehouse solutions in South East United States. We work with lot of clients in manufacturing, health care, automobile, energy and retail, implementing data warehouse and Business Intelligence solutions in Microsoft tools.,Low cost and easy to learn and use Microsoft user community is very wide and its easy to identify resources to implement the solution in Microsoft technology With the introduction of Self service (in-memory) platform - Office 365 (Powerpivot, Power view, Power maps and Power query) helps end users do their own ad-hoc reports using these easy to learn and implement tools Parallel data warehouse (with polybase connector to connect to hadoop) will be a suitable replacement for expensive enterprise database tools like Teradata and Oracle,Power Pivot is a very good tool to do self service BI but there is no direct way to implement row based security to the model. There has to be a mechanism where the owner of the book can lock the model within the book to be read only or hide the model so that other users will only see the reports and not the underlying data model Many to many functionality is simple in multi dimensional cubes but there is no direct and efficient way available in SSAS Tabular model and Power Pivot Even though Power Pivot is a easy to use and fast to implement BI solution, without proper training, end users can't utilize all the functionality of Power Pivot and common mistakes and misunderstandings will be expensive in long run,9,Business users easily learned self service BI with training and what to do and what not to do with self service BI Learning curve for Powerpivot and other office 365 tools for IT team who already knew about data warehousing concepts is steep,,10,Professional services company,Yes,Change management was minimal,Transitioning to a new tool - From SSRS reports (with sql server tables as source) to power view and power maps (using SSAS cubes),10,7,SSAS 2012 tabular cube got corrupted due to a power outage. Microsoft quickly jumped in to fix the problem (power outage happened when the cube was processsing) and gave a solution why it has corrupted,Integrating various data sources in power pivot Data cleansing and data mashups in Power query Easy visualizations in Power view,From an end user perspective, writing complex measures and debugging the errors in power pivot data refresh when excel source(with vlookups) is used,Yes,9
Microsoft BI
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Score 8.0 out of 101
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677 Ratings
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Alexander Lubyansky profile photo
August 07, 2016

Microsoft BI Review: "It's Excel for Big Data. So easy, so cheap, so fast, and powerful enough most everything."

Score 10 out of 10
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It's a good rating for people willing to learn and get used to it, but it's not inherently user friendly, especially to people who are not Excel power users.
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Sean Warren profile photo
November 04, 2014

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

Score 9 out of 10
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Usability is great. This product will make most feel right at home. I feel like this question should be asked from two points of view:

1. Creator of reports, Data Models, Views etc: Most Advanced users will still rate the usability as very high. Its capabilities are still robust. However when compared to other Enterprise Class products it will not do many of the advanced application queries.

2. End user, Consumer: All end users will feel right at home. Many will be able to create connections to already created data models and other external publicly available sources like twitter, Facebook, World Health order etc... These connections are then in turn very very easily available to publish to SharePoint and Power BI.

It took me a while to understand what I think is Microsoft's strategy. This will handle all but the most of robust needs. Much like many American made cars and my favorite Corvette, Microsoft is fast, has it own break downs from time to time but all of these are really to tolerate when the price is considered and the next one up that can out perform it is three to four times as much money makes this an easy one to still recommend.
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Feature Scorecard Summary

Pixel Perfect reports (30)
Customizable dashboards (36)
Report Formatting Templates (34)
Drill-down analysis (32)
Formatting capabilities (36)
Integration with R or other statistical packages (29)
Report sharing and collaboration (36)
Publish to Web (33)
Publish to PDF (32)
Report Versioning (29)
Report Delivery Scheduling (33)
Delivery to Remote Servers (14)
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.) (35)
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization (32)
Predictive Analytics (31)
Multi-User Support (named login) (34)
Role-Based Security Model (31)
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete) (34)
Single Sign-On (SSO) (15)
Responsive Design for Web Access (25)
Dedicated iOS Application (20)
Dedicated Android Application (20)
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile (26)
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.

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Microsoft BI Technical Details

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