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.