Microsoft Power BI News from WPC 2014

Posted by  Jen Underwood   in  , ,      6 months ago     6840 Views     4 Comments  

WPC 14

More exciting Microsoft BI news today from WPC 2014 while I was traveling across country. They weren’t kidding at PASS BAC when they said to wait for WPC news. The buzz from partners that are at the event is really upbeat versus last year’s “wait and see” vibe from the Power BI demos. The future outlook is beginning to look bright again for Microsoft BI. You can watch the WPC keynote with the live Power BI demo on the Digital WPC site. The good BI stuff that you probably care about starts at 21:00 into the recording.

If you are totally time-starved like me and just need to know the bottom line, Chris Webb wrote a fantastic summary with the key important points itemized. I won’t re-list the same points here but I will add an alternative perspective.

The “browser-based” BI demo that did not showcase Excel is interesting. I want to know more about that one since we have been hearing a lot about Excel being the center of the universe in Microsoft BI-land for a few years now. My husband, a business analyst, has always griped that he can’t install Excel add-ins or upgrade Excel at work. If what was shown is a stand-alone alternative not requiring latest Excel, that will give Mr. Underwood’s of the world a chance of spinning up Power BI. Has Microsoft chosen to add a stand-alone Power BI option – no Excel? I don’t know! We are indeed heading into a “browser-based” BI future if you look around at the wider BI world including big data visual analytics and cloud BI players. Qlik at one point last year had rumors of vNext being “browser-based” but other unconfirmed reports from industry analysts say Qlik shelved that plan. Donald Farmer is a brilliant BI mind and most likely had a say in Qlik’s ultimate vNext direction.

If you follow me then you know that I am mobile BI obsessed. In a recent conference in Rome, Cindi Howson of BI Scorecard shared an interesting primary research survey finding that customers cited adding mobile BI doubles the rate of BI adoption. In her study she noted that BI adoption typically ranges at about 22% percentage of employees with exception of mobile BI at 42%. The touch-friendly mobile Power BI dashboards shown today at WPC actually look a bit nicer than the native Power BI mobile app and the “browser-based” Office 365/SharePoint Excel Services that I have been pitching as an alternative Microsoft mobile BI option for the past two years.

I also liked seeing the addition of popular connectors like Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter, Google Analytics and the APIs/solutions/marketplace concept. I have to imagine Microsoft field sales reps with Microsoft Dynamics on their quotas/scorecards may have cringed but Salesforce is a market reality. With DOMO and Salesforce working together, I am glad Microsoft added this connection and showed it today. They also showed iPads again today… the new multi-vendor friendly Microsoft is refreshing!

As Chris mentioned in his post, there were gauges and other items shown that data visualization experts will frown upon. Bluntly, there is going to be a lot of data visualization heart ache in the future because I am already seeing infographics being sprinkled into many of the BI vendors including SAP Lumira, Panorama Necto, DOMO, Antivia, and Targit BI. It will be up to us implementers to choose the right data visualizations and also help our clients understand best practices. I have a popular data visualization best practices deck on SlideShare on that hot topic.

To wrap up, I am dying for more details …what is Microsoft actually showing here, when will it be available, etc.? If anyone knows more, please share. I will update this blog if I learn more in the coming days.


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 20, 2015, 8:24 AM

    Hey Jen,

    finally I had some time, to give the RGraphicsDevice within the Reporting Services a try, and have to admit that I’m failed just in the beginning. Maybe you can shed some light on the Visual Studio side what Recompile/Build means. From Visual Studio Beginner point of view means, I would consider myself an BI / R / Visualization expert (sounds much better than veteran) but a total Newbie for the Visual Studio side (even if this may sounds funny. Thanks in advance Tom

  2.   January 13, 2015, 11:01 AM

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Hello Jen,
    I have found your postings most interesting and very informative.

    I would like to hear your perspective on our dilema; we currently use Business Objects(ver 3.1) and have an “inmature BI program”. Tons of master data issues because we use a myriad of systems (SAP, LIMS, Trackwise, Argus………and Excel of course – lol).

    We are trying to select a tool to empower those savy users and at the same time, align us to hopefully phase out a very expensive Business Objects suite.

    We are focussing on Qlik and Tableau, currently leaning to a combination of Qlik view and sense (instead of tableau). Qlik sense for those savy users (they source their data from queries from (SAP-ECC, LIMS, Tackwise, etc) and then clean it up in MSAccess plus Excel.

    For the more enterprise reporting and analytics, thinking that Qlikview will suit the bill.

    Any insights you have will be greatly appreciated.


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