Microsoft Plans to Expand BI to Performance Management
PerformancePoint Server 2007, due in the first half of 2007, expands Microsoft's footprint beyond BI, and brings it into the realm of performance managementan area that uses BI metrics to answer the "what's next" question for businesses.
However, the real mojo behind PerformancePoint Server is its ability to bring together Microsoft "classic" technologies including SQL Server (reporting services, analysis services and data transformation services), Office (Excel and Excel Services in Office 2007), SharePoint Server 2007, and to some degree Microsoft's next generation ERP suite, Dynamics.
"Office and SQL are two distinct entities. That there is now a common mechanism to display their goods [through PerformancePoint] the thing is, they're integrated," said Keith Gile, principal analyst with Forrester Research.
"PerformancePoint gives a branded name to something that isn't specifically SQL or Office and represents applications that will be built on top of it."
In a June 6 Web cast Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft Business Solutions group, stressed that Microsoft is aligning investments across the company to complete an integrated performance management platformone that will support Microsoft's whole strategy around being a "People Ready" business.
"Our goal is to deliver business intelligence value to the worker, to every decision, by evolving BI to performance management and use BI to expand and really be part of Microsoft Office to bring together structured and unstructured information."
The goal is also to build a new category around performance management, competing with the likes of pure play stalwarts Cognos, Hyperion and Cartesis, to name a few.
To do this, Microsoft is building out a huge partner networkdisplacing many of the BI partners it's had in placearound PerformancePoint, from big system integrators to regional implementers.
In recent months Microsoft has trained 500 partners on PerformancePoint, according to Raikes.
Of those partners, 100 are building new BI applications encompassing a dozen separate industries.
At the same time, Microsoft is focusing development inward.
The company built new BI and performance management capabilities into the upcoming SQL Server 2005 and Office 2007, and based a good deal of PerformancePoint functionality on its ProClarity acquisition, which closed in April.
And Microsoft has unified its sales and marketing and go-to-market activities around PerformancePoint, according to Raikes.
But despite the investmenteven from a company with the deep pockets the likes of Microsoftchallenges exist in cracking an already deeply penetrated market, analysts say.
"From one angle, everyone uses Microsoft tools anyway and everyone wants to use Excel, so they're positioned well there," said John Hagerty, vice president of AMR Research, in Boston.
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