Microsoft Needs to Add Apps to BI Toolbox

Ann All

Don't get us wrong -- we generally find surveys to be fairly valuable sources of information. But sometimes the insights are less than earth-shattering. Case in point: a Capgemini survey of attendees at the recent Microsoft Business Intelligence Conference that found that their top IT priority over the next three years will be (gasp) BI.


It was tapped by 61 percent of folks attending the conference, well ahead of second-place service-oriented architecture (32 percent).


Though the results are far from surprising, they do mesh pretty well with surveys of other IT pros, who have been consistently putting BI at or near the tops of their lists of IT priorities.


Microsoft is making every effort to position itself as a force to be reckoned with in BI, based on this Computerworld interview of Jeff Raikes, the Microsoft exec leading the initiative. Raikes' biggest selling point, which he emphasizes a number of times during the interview, is Microsoft's ability to offer users access to BI from within Word, Excel and Office.


Among the Microsoft products he plugs: PerformancePoint Server 2007, which should ship soon and will offer simplified scorecarding functionality and other user-friendly features.


While such technologies are impressive, opines ZDNet blogger Joshua Greenbaum, they reveal a weakness in Microsoft's tool-centric BI strategy: It doesn't help folks zero in on the specific business problems that BI can help them solve and offer an intuitive way of doing so. What folks really need is applications, not just tools, and Microsoft will have to enlist partners that can produce them.

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