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Colin White

I like the various blogs associated with my many hobbies and even those to do with work. I find them very useful and I was excited when the Business Intelligence Network invited me to write my very own blog. At last I now have somewhere to park all the various tidbits that I know are useful, but I am not sure what to do with. I am interested in a wide range of information technologies and so you might find my thoughts will bounce around a bit. I hope these thoughts will provoke some interesting discussions.

About the author >

Colin White is the founder of BI Research and president of DataBase Associates Inc. As an analyst, educator and writer, he is well known for his in-depth knowledge of data management, information integration, and business intelligence technologies and how they can be used for building the smart and agile business. With many years of IT experience, he has consulted for dozens of companies throughout the world and is a frequent speaker at leading IT events. Colin has written numerous articles and papers on deploying new and evolving information technologies for business benefit and is a regular contributor to several leading print- and web-based industry journals. For ten years he was the conference chair of the Shared Insights Portals, Content Management, and Collaboration conference. He was also the conference director of the DB/EXPO trade show and conference.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Colin's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

Microsoft today announced major changes to its PerformancePoint BI product. The current version of the product, PerformancePoint 2007, provides three BI related capabilities: business performance management (BPM), BI analytics, and business planning.

The BPM component evolved from the Microsoft Business Scorecard Manager, whereas the analytics component is based on a subset of the functionality acquired from ProClarity. The planning component was a new component developed by the Microsoft BI group aimed specifically at financial planning and budgeting.

Today's announcement breaks out the BPM and analytics components from PerformancePoint and merges them into the Enterprise Edition of Microsoft SharePoint Server. Existing SharePoint Enterprise Edition users (with Software Assurance) will now get these components as a part of their licensing agreement. These customers will be able to download the PerformancePoint components starting April 1.

In the summer, Microsoft will release Service Pack 3 of PerformancePoint 2007. This will be the final release of the product, which will be supported for ten years.

Microsoft's strategy is to move the responsibility for financial planning and budgeting to the Microsoft Dynamics FRX and Forecaster products. However, horizontal planning capabilities will continue be added to Microsoft SQL Server, Excel, and SharePoint over future releases.

This new direction makes sense for Microsoft. Although Microsoft was emphasizing the BPM and planning capabilities of PerformancePoint, it was achieving limited success in these areas. Instead, the majority of customers were buying the product for its analytics capabilities. This was especially true for ProClarity users.

Another reason why this makes sense is that Microsoft SharePoint is a very successful product, and this is leading to companies purchasing related Microsoft solutions. Over 80 percent of PerformancePoint customers, for example, are also SharePoint Server users. The penetration of SharePoint in the market is also a key factor in the success of SQL Server and its BI components.

Given that Microsoft Office is also increasingly being integrated with Microsoft SharePoint, it means that customers will now be motivated to purchase Microsoft Office, SQL Server, and SharePoint Server as a product set in order to deploy business intelligence and related collaborative tools to a mass business user audience.

Posted January 23, 2009 9:00 AM
Permalink | 2 Comments |


You are ignoring a major fact that MSFT will NOT bring to SharePoint the Proclarity client. this means that MSFT is GIVING UP the Advanced BI functionality that competes with BOBJ, Cognos and others and will limit itself to a more basic set of features that might be interesting for a broad set of users but WILL NOT replace pure play BI solutions.

Here is our view on the move:

Thanks for the feedback.

I think it has been apparent for some time that Microsoft never intended to integrate the ProClarity Client into its BI product set, but instead selectively add ProClarity functionality to its existing tools. Microsoft indicated to me yesterday they will continue to add this functionality to both Microsoft Excel and SharePoint.

Although PerformancePoint was not a great success, many ProClarity customers purchased it for its analytics capabilities. I have interviewed several of those customers and they were happy with the product. The component of PerformancePoint that had less success was the financial planning component, and this is why Microsoft has now decided to consolidate its financial planning assets in the Microsoft Dynamics Group.

I agree with you that Microsoft is not interested in being a pure-play BI vendor. However, I would also argue that neither are IBM (who acquired Cognos) or SAP (who acquired Business Objects) interested in being pure-play BI vendors.

BI vendors are struggling to gain more than a 10 percent business user penetration in organizations. Complexity and usability are key factors here. Microsoft has decided to offer BI and related collaborative solutions that appeal to a wider user audience that don't need the depth of functionality offered by many pure-play BI vendors. The combination of Microsoft SharePoint, SQL Server, Excel and the upcoming Gemini product offer an attractive package for these types of user. Excel, rightly or wrongly, is still the number one BI tool.

For those organizations that need more advanced BI features, Microsoft is happy to let the pure-play BI vendors, SAP Business Objects and IBM Cognos fight it out. This part of the marketplace is crowded and as I have already pointed out is struggling to grow. From where I sit Microsoft's strategy makes sense.

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