How did Microsoft’s Power BI come to lead the Gartner Magic Quadrant?
Once per year Gartner, a research and advisory firm specialising in the IT sector, release their ‘Magic Quadrant’ for Business Intelligence.
For the second year running, Microsoft has been considered the vendor with the most complete vision, though also notable is that both Microsoft and Tableau have begun to open the gap between themselves and the rest of the market – especially Qlik, with whom they’ve historically been much closer.
So, how did they get here?
Whilst Microsoft have pretty much always featured in the Leaders quadrant (I’ve checked as far back as 2008), it was becoming a very crowded space up there. This particular trend, however, started in 2016, when Gartner began separating Enterprise Reporting into its own category (which covers SSRS/SSAS, Business Objects for example), and left the BI quadrant for self-self, self-deliver type tools.
This played perfectly to tools like Qlik Sense, Tableau – and Microsoft’s then-still-quite-new Power BI.
Fast forward a year, and Microsoft have of course been very busy with PowerBI, developing it aggressively, and its strong integration to the Microsoft-Powered packages, it’s bargain price, yet rich feature set – is proving to be a winning formula.
Gartner recognised the move towards Natural Language searching of data, which, whist not perfect, is an integral part of PowerBI’s offering, and can even be integrated into your Cortana Digital Assistant (yes, you can use Cortana to ask questions about your data!)
Power BI has historically scored low for more advanced analytics. Given Microsoft’s increasing focus on its R offering (following its 2015 takeover of Revolution Analytics), hopefully Microsoft will allow users to further leverage R’s capabilities within Power BI.
More recently, Microsoft have begun previewing its latest version of SSRS – which will, for the first time, allow you to host the ‘cloud’ half of Power BI on-premises – thus removing a major barrier to adoption by larger enterprises.
A couple of years ago, I recall having some conversations with colleagues about Microsoft’s BI & Analytics vision. With SSRS / SSAS the well-established player, Power BI beginning to take shape, the takeover of Revolution Analytics, and even the SandDance project, it was far from clear what exactly Microsoft had planned.
24 months later, and it’s not difficult to see why it is that Gartner felt Microsoft were well ahead of the pack when it comes to vision.