Big Changes in Top Microsoft Business Intelligence Leadership

Posted by  Jen Underwood   in       7 months ago     5114 Views     1 Comment  

MSBI Change

Big changes are happening within Microsoft Business Intelligence these days. The latest scoop is a new Business Intelligence General Manager, James Phillips, has taken over the reigns to lead Microsoft engineering into the future. I believe this role was previously held by popular Kamal Hathi and before him Tom Casey. (7/1/2014 Quick clarification: Kamal was not replaced. He leads up BI Program Management and rolls up under James. That is good news. I really like Kamal.) The typical Microsoft blog leadership change announcement, vision messaging and introduction of Phillips has not yet been published but I do expect that it is likely coming soon. It is confirmed that Phillips will be attending Microsoft WPC in mid-July. He is actively seeking feedback on the Microsoft Business Intelligence and Cloud Power BI offerings.

According to his LinkedIn profile, YouTube interviews and a few articles, James Phillips began his career writing software for the Apple II, TRS-80 and IBM PC platforms. He calls himself a typical nerd, the classic high school geek growing up in Louisiana that bought his first computer with his savings from work bagging groceries. He taught himself to code and at the early age of 17 he co-founded his first software company, Fifth Generation Systems, which was later acquired by Symantec. Phillips continues on with an amazing career starting, building and selling technology businesses. In 2009, he co-founded Couchbase. Couchbase is a well-known, NoSQL database software company where as CEO Phillips led strategy, initial product offerings, drove early wins and successfully launched the solution to become a leader in the disruptive NoSQL market.

Phillips most likely brings a brilliant, genuinely fresh, fast-moving, “Silicon Valley” start-up perspective to traditionally, slower moving Redmond. In a December 2013 Bloomberg article, the author mentions Microsoft’s Satya Nadella has been known for bringing in Silicon Valley executives like James Phillips, to meet with his team so they could learn what people are doing outside of Redmond and remember how big things begin. This change in top business intelligence engineering leadership is another sign of Microsoft’s new CEO continuing to evolve the company. It will be exciting to see where Phillips takes Microsoft Business Intelligence next and what comes out of his group over the upcoming months. Will they stay the course of Excel focused Power BI? Cloud First and Cloud Only? Will the Microsoft Cloud Services and Devices mission shift direction? Stay tuned for upcoming news announcements on the Official Microsoft Business Intelligence blogs.


Jen is a Microsoft Sr. Program Manager of Business Intelligence & Analytics. She works with external groups, customers, channel partners, MVPs, BI professionals and application developers to better connect the outside world to engineering. Previously she was a Microsoft Business Intelligence Sr. Technical Product Manager for offerings spanning across Microsoft SQL Server, Excel and SharePoint. She also held roles as an Enterprise Data Platform Specialist and a Business Intelligence Consultant for Big 4 Systems Integration firms. Throughout most of her ~20 year career she has been researching, designing and implementing data warehousing, business intelligence and predictive analytics solutions across a variety of open source, niche and enterprise vendor landscapes including Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, and SAP. Jen is quite active in the global technical community as a presenter, author, blogger and volunteer. Jen was previously honored with a Boulder BI Brain Trust (BBBT) advisory membership, a 2013 Tableau Zen Master (MVP) award and a Dun & Bradstreet MVP. She writes articles for TechTarget's BeyeNetwork, SQL Server Pro magazine and other industry media channels. Jen holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and a post graduate certificate in Computer Science - Data Mining from the University of California, San Diego.


  1.   January 16, 2015, 12:22 PM

    Great post Jen,

    are you planning on doing something with tableau + R (I see on your bio that you are interested in tableau as well). The integration between both is pretty simple (I played around for a while and documented my simple test here: if you want to see) but I think the community is lacking more advanced examples.


    •   January 16, 2015, 12:26 PM

      Hi Jen please ignore and delete this comment, I just found a post about it on your blog :)

  2.   January 15, 2015, 10:51 AM

    Thanks for the post, I thought I’d jump in to add some detail.

    Shiny is an open source R package that provides an elegant and powerful web framework for building web applications using R. Shiny helps you turn your analyses into interactive web applications without requiring HTML, CSS, or JavaScript knowledge. While the Shiny package itself includes a basic web server, it’s only designed to serve one application at a time. (

    If you want to put your Shiny application on the web, you need Shiny Server. Shiny Server is designed to serve up multiple applications on the same server. Shiny Server provides a platform on which you can host multiple Shiny applications on a single server, each with their own URL or port. It enables you to support non-websocket-enabled browsers like Internet Explorer 8 and 9, and is available under an AGPLv3 license or an RStudio license. Folks are provided pre-compiled binaries for Linux Only – Ubuntu 12.04 (or later) and RedHat/CentOS 5 and 6. Enterprise/Professional data science teams choose Shiny Server Pro over the open source version to secure user access, tune application performance, monitor resource utilization and get the direct support they need to create the best interactive data experiences for their customers and colleagues. Which version you use depends on your requirements. (

    We realized that some folks can’t stand up a Linux server so we decided to do it for them with – currently in beta. Now people can deploy their Shiny applications on the web (hosted by RStudio) in minutes in an easy to use, scalable and secure way. The free tier is currently limited to 50 active hours per month and 10 apps. We’d love to get feedback on the pricing model since we haven’t launched yet. (


    •   January 15, 2015, 11:58 AM

      Thanks for the fantastic detail Bill. I have been playing with the – currently in beta.

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