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Microsoft's BI Challenge: Reach the Other 80 Percent

Ted Kummert, senior vice president of the Business Platform Division at Microsoft keynoted the second day of the Microsoft Tech Ed North America 2010 Conference in New Orleans today. Kummert's keynote no doubt was also designed to appeal to attendees of the Microsoft BI Conference 2010, which is co-located with the Tech Ed event.

Kummert didn't come to unveil any exciting new technologies or strategies. In fact, he opened his address by saying: "We are not committing to a future roadmap. We are not talking about specific features."

Instead, he provided a broad overview of Microsoft's value proposition in the BI space, and showed how maturing tools -- specifically Office 2010, SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2 -- are enabling increasingly rich opportunities for effective data visualization, manipulation and analysis. Kummert showed off the rich integration among the applications, showing how data surfaced in a browser via SharePoint could be directly manipulated in Excel.

But his core message boiled down to this: The best kind of BI is the BI that people are actually able to use and manage on their own. Kummert cited analyst figures that found that only 20 percent of potential BI consumers actually are in a position to use BI today. Kummert emphasized familiar application interfaces, intuitive interaction and viable self-service and management as the keys to bringing BI to the other 80 percent.

"We are very, very committed to continue to move forward the technologies and tools we are giving to you, the BI professionals," Kummert told the audience. "But we see a tremendous opportunity to enable the 80 percent. You'll see more impact from your solutions. People will be able to build on them on their own. You'll have [fewer] interruptions. You'll be able to spend your time with strategic applications in your building."

What was your impression of what Microsoft has put in front of the industry? Has Microsoft done enough to really reach the other 80 percent, or does the BI model enabled by SharePoint, Excel, SQL Server and PowerPivot remain too complex and difficult to manage to fulfill Kummert's vision?

Posted by Michael Desmond on 06/08/2010

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