For as long as companies have been capturing data about their business processes in ERP and CRM platforms, it has been almost as important to extract and summarize it. Reporting software is a huge segment of the industry. Data flowing through ERP and CRM systems facilitates efficient workflow, while exporting and summarizing it facilitates business insight and decision making. In the past few years we have observed the emergence of powerful analytics tools and platforms that enable users to visualize data, slice and dice, and interpret in ways that were previously in the realm of sophisticated data science.
Microsoft was an early leader in business analytics and visualization software, and it should be no surprise since Excel has, for many decades, been the weapon of choice for number-crunching, tabulation, and analysis. Power BI represents a significant extension of the Excel story with a powerful set of tools for tapping into islands of data to identify patterns, trends, and insights and visually monitor key performance indicators in any business context. Dynamics 365 customers benefit from the bundling of PowerBI with Business Central and Customer Engagement platforms.
Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence platforms confirms Microsoft’s leadership. We think Microsoft started something significant in the enterprise business software industry as Salesforce announced its acquisition this week of data visualization software company Tableau. The tech giant acquired Tableau for a whopping $15.7 billion, a huge leap from their last market cap where they were valued at $10.79 billion. This acquisition empowers Microsoft’s CRM rival to broaden their offering to business analytics. Salesforce are to make Seattle the home of Tableau, and their official second headquarters after the infamous Salesforce tower in San Francisco. With Seattle being home to the headquarters of Microsoft and Amazon, we think it clearly signifies their desire to become a key industry player in business analytics.
But why has this happened now? It is interesting that Salesforce have chosen to make this acquisition public one week after Google acquire Looker and the same day that Microsoft announced their expansion plans for their Power Platform. Could it be in response to this? With Microsoft establishing such a clear lead in business analytics attached to their business app platforms, it is clear that Salesforce needed to be in the game also. Salesforce Wave Analytics, a business intelligence platform from Salesforce, was not as successful as they had once hoped. This recent acquisition of Tableau now aims to help Salesforce show their clients the value of their data, something that they have not been able to previously do.
It is no secret that Salesforce and Microsoft have had an ongoing rivalry over CRM, with a tug of war to acquire LinkedIn that ultimately resulted in a win for Microsoft in 2016. Since then, Salesforce have persisted with their efforts to widen its products and services for enterprises by attempting to offer deeper levels of analytics.
Microsoft, Salesforce and the Analytics Market
Microsoft has been an industry innovator in business intelligence and analytics for 12 consecutive years. The Power BI investment will continue to grow and expand its reach via the Power Platform. In February 2019 Gartner rated Microsoft number one leader and visionaries in their magic quadrant for analytics and business intelligence platforms.
This graph illustrates the value that corporations are putting on analytics and business intelligence, making it clear that Microsoft are winning the game on access to big data. Microsoft have tied purchases like LinkedIn to Dynamics 365 Talent and Power BI and have shown Fortune 500 companies’ valuable data on corporate employees and hiring practices. Their approach to big data has shown huge value and is forcing other technology giants to jump into the game, like Google with its recent acquisition of Looker and Salesforce with Tableau.
What does this mean for Dynamics 365 customers?
The leadership position that Microsoft holds in business intelligence and analytics is a clear indication that there is value in investing in Office 365 and Power Platforms. Microsoft have always put data analytics at the heart of their business and understood that insights are an essential part of the overall product offering. There is a clear return on investment with subscription packages as these will keep paying off as Microsoft continue to make enhancements and superior products. Microsoft has been able to offer lower prices for business intelligence and analytics as part of these packages, and clients have been able to implement cutting technology at a fraction of what the cost used to be.