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Home / Latest / Why not Power BI?

Why not Power BI?

May 12, 2021
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Power BI peerless in Gartner Magic Quadrant

Since March, Gartner has released their full report. It is clear that Power BI is peerless in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant leaving most clients asking ‘Why not Power BI?’. Our Director of Professional Service, John Gamble, explains why.

In March 2021, our Data and Analytics Team discussed the announcement that Microsoft’s principal tool for analytics and BI, had been confirmed as the outright leader for the 3rd consecutive year and included in the “Leaders” quadrant for the 14th consecutive year.

You can read the blog that investigates what this means for Analytics & Business Intelligence tools and how our customers can benefit, here.

Gartner 2021: Analytics & Business Intelligence

Strengths

Gartner has highlighted three items below which it considers to be strengths of the tool in respect of the current Magic Quadrant which make it really stand out. It’s important to recognise that these build on the mature data loading, modelling, and visualisation capabilities, all of which are provided in a low-code environment which give you flexibility to ensure you get the right answers from your data.

Alignment with Office 365 & Teams

The inclusion of Power BI in the Office 365 E5 SKU has provided an enormous channel for the platform’s spread, making it “self-seeding” in many organisations.

The increasing integration of Power BI into Microsoft Teams, with its tens of millions of daily active users, will further increase Power BI’s reach in the world of remote working.

Power BI is now often the option that organisations have in mind when using Gartner’s client inquiry service to ask about ABI platform selection — “why not Power BI?” is effectively the question most are asking.

Price/power combination

The influence of Power BI has drastically reduced the price of tools in the ABI platform market since its launch. In this case, though, low price does not equate to limited functionality.

The Power BI cloud service is extremely rich in its capabilities, which include an enlarged set of augmented analytics and automated ML capabilities.

AI-powered services, such as text, sentiment, and image analytics, are available within Power BI Premium and draw on Azure capabilities.

Scope of product ambition

Microsoft continues to invest in a broad set of visionary capabilities and to integrate them with Power BI.

It now claims to have 80,000 customers using AI services in Power BI deployments.

It continues to encourage usage at scale by, for example, applying ML-driven automatic optimisation of materialised views on Azure Synapse (and soon other data sources, including Snowflake and Redshift) to autotune query performance.

Cautions

Microsoft have long pursued a “Cloud First” strategy and the cautions highlighted by Gartner below are related to that. This is not because, “Cloud First” is a bad strategy, far from it, more that new features of Power BI get developed into the Cloud service first taking advantage of the massive compute features of Azure; and then, where appropriate, engineered into the on-premises version.

The Cloud services version therefore provides many advanced features including AI-based tooling features such as the Natural Language Processing (NLP) querying engine.

Lastly, the ability to manage development pipelines is improving all the time.

Functional gaps in on-premises version

Compared with the Power BI cloud service, Microsoft’s on-premises offering has significant functional gaps, including in relation to dashboards, streaming analytics, prebuilt content, natural language question and answer, augmentation (what Microsoft calls Quick Insights) and alerting.

None of these functions are supported in Power BI Report Server, its on-premises offering.

Azure only

Microsoft does not give customers the flexibility to choose a cloud IaaS offering. Its Power BI service runs only in Azure. However, customers that utilise Azure can take advantage of the global reach offered by Microsoft’s cloud platform.

Power BI Premium enables customers to enable multi-geography capabilities in their Power BI tenant, and they can deploy their capacity to one of 42 globally available data centres.

Content promotion & publication process

The way in which Power BI handles the promotion and publication of content can lead to a significant administrative overhead for customers.

The fact that there is a one-to-one relationship between published Power BI apps and Workspaces (Power BI’s collaborative “development” environment) means that organisations may face a situation in which they are manually managing many hundreds of Workspaces. Retroactively fixing this issue is a complex task.

How to govern self-service usage is perhaps the most common question asked about Power BI by users of Gartner’s inquiry service. The Power BI team is, however, investing in governance capabilities to help customers manage their Power BI environments better.

Conclusion

For a product that is less than 7 years old, Power BI continues to go from strength to strength and with the visual Data Flows and Data Quality profiling components is a complete data eco-system in its own right.

At the heart of the offering, driving all the new features, is the vision of creating a Data Culture in an organisation. Power BI is aimed at being used by everyone, to assist in every decision people need to make in their roles.

The tooling is intelligent and familiar pulling in features from Excel & PowerPoint that people will recognise but also incorporating AI features such as Natural Language querying to make data easy to work with.

Power BI provides the high levels of governance meeting needs of both business users and IT. Moving away from EUC applications and on a per user basis the licence is highly attractive at a fraction of the price of competitors with less visual and reporting capability. Also not forgetting Power BI Desktop is free!

The integration with M365 and particularly Teams is seamless enabling great collaboration on decisions and the ability to certify published datasets helps users know they can trust the data shown. AT C5 we rely on it internally to help run our business.

For information about how we can help you utilise the benefits of Power BI Premium without the increased costs, email us at enquiries@c5alliance.com or call +441534 633 733.