The world of Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics is changing rapidly as users change the manner in which they interact with systems to generate graphs and visualizations like using natural language queries, voice or conversational analytics. There are a number of BI tools and platforms available in the market like Tableau, Qlikview, SAS, Looker etc. We will take a look at two main BI tools, Microstrategy and Power BI that are seeing widespread adoption in the industry today.
Microsoft Power BI is positioned as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms whereas Microstrategy is placed in the Challenger’s quadrant.
Microstrategy is a modern analytics and Business intelligence platform offered by Microstrategy Inc. The latest platform release, Microstrategy 2019 offers federated analytics, mobility, predefined contextual insights within existing applications like Microsoft Outlook desktop, web and mobile applications.
Microstrategy Desktop offers user-friendly intuitive tools right from data discovery to advanced big data analytics. It offers an extensive library using a drag and drop interface to visualize data. Users can organize the dashboards and visualizations into chapters and pages dossiers. Microstrategy can connect to more than 200+ data sources including RDBMS, OLAP, Big data, cloud data, Enterprise BI and ETL. A user can also connect to other self-service tools like Tableau, Power BI, and Qlik. The set of data transformation functions help in data cleaning and preparation. There are over 350 analytical functions, data mining algorithms, predictive models and integrations with third party statistical programs like R, PMML (Predictive Model Markup Language). Microstrategy is also available on AWS and Azure through a web based console. A user can deploy the Microstrategy projects into existing AWS and Azure accounts.
Microstrategy 2019 offers new features through which users can get access to answers without having to look for them with a single click or called Zero click intelligence or HyperIntelligence. The advanced machine learning capabilities offer proactive recommendations and provides relevant content to the user as and when required. The user can hover on highlighted words or identified attributes and receive a Hypercard of information. In this manner, users can induce intelligence in web browsers, email clients, Salesforce.com, Office365 apps and other BI tools. These features can be accessed on mobile through Hypermobile, which is a new app for Android and iOS.
With Hyperscreen, user can turn a screen or wall into an intelligent display to present insights enabling data driven collaboration. Users can also integrate Microstrategy with voice assistants like Alexa or Google Home and turn the applications into voice-enabled guide. Users can use image recognition through Hypervision to scan products, inventory etc. and get instant insights. The latest version also supports Natural Language Processing (NLP) and enables integration with voice technology and chatbots. Users can type in questions like ‘what is my revenue?’ through NLQ (Natural Language Query) and the tool will display the relevant results. Microstrategy 2019 also offers Enterprise Semantic Graph for federated analytics or crowdsourced content recommendations. Microstrategy is suited for large-scale reporting and data discovery for large and complex datasets. Microstrategy Enterprise platform comes with 30-day free trial period. The pricing model is quote based.
Power BI is an analytics service from Microsoft. Power BI service is offered as Power BI Desktop, online SaaS (Software as a Service) running in Azure Cloud, on premise version running on Power BI Report Server or Power BI mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows.
Power BI is easy to set up with simple dashboards and data connectors to on-premise and cloud based sources like Salesforce, Azure SQL DB or Dynamics 365, real time and streaming data sources. Power Query is used to connect to data, ingest it, and transform it before it lands in the dataset. Power BI also provides NLP functionality where user can ask business questions on dashboards and get the graphs or charts as the answer.
It also allows creating curated content through content packs that include reports, dashboards and datasets personalized as per the user. The open framework allows creation of custom visuals. Predictive patterns in data can also be uncovered using Quick insights feature. Users can create mobile optimized reports on the go and can easily embed reports created in PowerBI Desktop into existing apps or websites. If an enterprise is already using Microsoft products, PowerBI provides easy integrations with these existing solutions and helps lower infrastructure costs.
Apart from their global version, PowerBI is also available in three national clouds for US Government, Germany and China that combines local regulations on data residency, service delivery and access control. Power BI REST API through Power BI Embedded is used to build custom dashboards and reports to serve non Power BI users too. Power BI Desktop version is free for a single user. PowerBI Pro is included with Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise E5 and licensed per user. Whereas Power BI Premium comes at a monthly price as per dedicated cloud compute and storage resource.
A number of developments are also under way on the cloud front in AWS and Google as they expand their analytics capabilities.
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