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Microsoft’s Announcement of BI Road Map – a Public Relations Nightmare

Questions in regards to where Microsoft partners fit in Microsoft’s grand plans for the BI space.

During Microsoft’s PASS Summit 2010, Microsoft announced their strategic plans for their Analysis Services business intelligence platform. But as intriguing as Microsoft’s announcement was from a technological perspective, it also had another less desired effect – it presented Microsoft’s long time business partners, namely BI consultants and service providers, with big questions in regards to where they fit in Microsoft’s grand plans for the BI space.

There are two main reasons for this:

1. While Microsoft heavily relies on its partner network for selling more SQL Server licenses, they have been heavily marketing PowerPivot which is positioned as self-service BI. Neither the partners, nor Microsoft, have yet to figure out how to position the two offerings in a way that makes sense to a typical customer.

2. Microsoft’s road map clearly shows a shift away from OLAP architecture and to a new paradigm they call the BI Semantic Model that doesn’t coincide with their partners’ existing and hard earned training and expertise in implementing/selling Microsoft BI solutions. Microsoft partners would need to re-align their entire business based on a product that isn’t even released yet, let alone implemented anywhere.

Following this announcements, high profile evangelists of Microsoft BI solutions have openly expressed their concern regarding this radical move. See examples here

and here. Ever since, Microsoft has been working overtime on some major damage control, trying to explain itself and reassure its partner network that OLAP is not going anywhere and that these new plans are complementary to the existing Analysis Services offering (i.e. "bla bla").

Regardless of Microsoft’s post factum attempt to re-establish calm amongst its partner community from a PR perspective, that cat is already out of the bag.  And honestly, Microsoft’s move was not unexpected. Check out the article published two months ago titled ‘Business Intelligence Vendors and their Partners – Rough Seas Ahead’ which specifically discusses what PowerPivot (and similar technologies) would mean for the BI implementation and consulting business.

Whether Microsoft’s ideas are practical or just pipe dreams remains to be seen.  However, one thing is certain – considering the fact Microsoft rely so heavily on its dedicated partners for sales and marketing, I would have expected this to be handled with much more finesse. This announcement was a very poor display of handling public relations.

More Stories By Elad Israeli

Elad Israeli is co-founder of business intelligence software company, SiSense. SiSense has developed Prism, a next-generation business intelligence platform based on its own, unique ElastiCube BI technology. Elad is responsible for driving the vision and strategy of SiSense’s unique BI products. Before co-founding SiSense, Elad served as a Product Manager at global IT services firm Ness Technologies (NASDAQ: NSTC). Previously, Elad was a Product Manager at Anysoft and, before that, he co-founded and led technology development at BiSense, a BI technology company.

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