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Managing Director at Streamline Strategies
Reseller
Easy to use, integrates well, and gives us the ability to collaborate and keep track of everything
Pros and Cons
  • "It is easy to use. It has got a desktop where people can develop their own dashboards. Basically, we have figured out how to connect finance contracts and all programs for the government agency. So, they can see everything in a dashboard. So, it is very easy to use from a technical standpoint of view."
  • "Its desktop tool is a little bit memory CPU intensive, and it can be improved, but the machines nowadays come with a lot of memory. For the desktop users who are using it on the desktop, we recommend that they do an upgrade. It is a minor issue. We can fix it on the desktop."

What is our primary use case?

We are using it for financial analytics and reporting. We are using it to keep a track of projects and being able to degrade the projects. We are also using it for contract closeout.

My technical guy has been using the first version of it since it came out, but we are getting ready to upgrade to the newer version. It comes along in a bundle with the 365 Enterprise version.

It is on the cloud. We're probably going to run a hybrid because we want to be able to move around. If anything happens or if needed, we can move from platform to platform.

How has it helped my organization?

We can see things from a bird's eye view. We can do predictive analytics. I can tell who's capable, who's doing what, when and how much money they're spending, and how fast they're burning. So, it gives us a bird's eye view over the financials and the money. It basically gives us the ability to collaborate and keep track of everything that's going on in an organization. We were able to bring all the collaboration and tasks right into Power BI.

What is most valuable?

It is easy to use. It has got a desktop where people can develop their own dashboards. Basically, we have figured out how to connect finance contracts and all programs for the government agency. So, they can see everything in a dashboard. So, it is very easy to use from a technical standpoint of view. We publish a report every morning for the government, and we got all the data into one place. The data can be refreshed. We are using the API to connect to various systems, such as the financial system, contract writing system, and workflow. We are able to bring things from NIPA, which is their budget and where they keep all their money. There are a lot of features, but the most important thing is it is very easy to use. It is not like Tableau. With Tableau, you've almost got to be a rocket scientist.

On the user side, it is quite simple. If you know how to run a pivot table, and then you can do almost anything. All the data is right there in the database. So, if you understand pivot tables and know how they are run, and you know the reports that you are looking for, then everything becomes very easy to run in your organization.

What needs improvement?

Its desktop tool is a little bit memory CPU intensive, and it can be improved, but the machines nowadays come with a lot of memory. For the desktop users who are using it on the desktop, we recommend that they do an upgrade. It is a minor issue. We can fix it on the desktop.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using Microsoft BI for about four and a half years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Its stability is pretty good. It is pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I would rate it an eight out of 10 in terms of scalability. Currently, we are running a pilot. We're doing a pilot for army headquarters. They dictate what happens and what they use. Currently, there are 10 users, but I'm looking to go up to at least a hundred. 

We got an architect and an assistant administrator. We got a staff of three and a half people because people take vacations or sick leaves. The good part about it is that these people can work from anywhere.

How are customer service and technical support?

We are a Microsoft reseller. We have partnered with Microsoft. We have developed a relationship with their technical folks over the years. So, we kind of go directly to them. My partner came from Microsoft, so he has a very good relationship with a few technical folks. So, we, kind of, have some special privileges that a couple of other vendors don't have.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

As a matter of fact, we had built a tool, but it took so long to get it vetted and get it through to ATOs. That's when we decided to convert to Microsoft Power BI. It has already been vetted and approved in the army environment. It is an approved government site for cloud services. We were looking for the easiest path, and that's why we worked with Microsoft BI. They've already been embedded into the government. It is bundled with Office 365.

How was the initial setup?

If my technical person had to rate it, he would say very easy. All we need is to have the software.

What about the implementation team?

It was done in-house.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

They are charging us by users in storage, and there is a license fee. My financial people handle all that. The client has already worked out a contract with Microsoft, and basically, we're getting government prices.

What other advice do I have?

The backend is the most important part. We understand its backend. We implemented the on-time system for an airport. We don't find its modeling complicated. We set up the back offices and get all the modeling done and everything connected. The customer doesn't even see that. They only see the part where they're running their reports and doing the analytics or whatever they need to do. We give them all the information at their fingertips.

Everybody is going to Business Analytics. A lot of people don't understand the difference between analytics and coding, but that's something for me to teach and educate them on.

I would advise doing your testing and environment setup. You should evaluate your product very well and figure out what platform your organization is running on. You should be careful and look at how well it integrates with other products. If you're not in a Microsoft environment, it is going to be quite difficult. Oracle and Microsoft are competitive. So, you go with one or the other. The reason why I like Microsoft is that they integrate with all applications. Microsoft controls 99% of the desktops.

I would rate Microsoft BI a nine out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer:
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Okay Akdeniz
Business Application Group Manager at OBASE
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Scalable with various licensing options and offers good technical support
Pros and Cons
  • "Technical support is quite good."
  • "The licensing needs improvement. There needs to be a middle option between Pro and Premium versions."

What is our primary use case?

We primarily sell Power BI licenses. 

Mostly, we focus on the retail industry. Usually, we are using the Power BI reports for dashboards. We are also providing our customers with some data warehouse reporting. Basically, we do long-term categorization of stock and inventory numbers and sales figures so that they can compare the sales and stocks to the inventory numbers.

We tend to deal with physical inventory reports. We tend not to deal with the solution for financial operations.

What is most valuable?

The solution has different licensing tiers.

The product can scale if you need it to.

Technical support is quite good.

With the cloud deployment, there's no setup required.

The product works well for small or mid-level organizations.

What needs improvement?

The solution's stability could be improved. In the retail industry, due to issues with information updating and data uploading. Clients may end up pricing items wrong as they could accidentally base their choices on old or wrong data.

The licensing needs improvement. There needs to be a middle option between Pro and Premium versions. It could also be less expensive.

For how long have I used the solution?

While we have experience with Microsoft tools for the past ten years, I personally have had experience with Microsoft BI for the past two or so years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is not really stable. I've faced a lot of limitations especially in terms of some data flows updates. We have faced some exceptions. Right now, we have created a case for Microsoft in order to solve some problems we've been having as, right now, there's some sort of system fault.

While the platform is a little more stable, the big problem is the latency issues around customer updates.

In a recent project, in Sweden, we faced an exception in Power BI from the update path. Whenever we refresh the animations and the fact tables, we faced something that said we couldn't upload the data. After 20 minutes we tried to refresh again. We didn't change anything with our reports or platform or anything related to infrastructure or schema. We didn't touch anything. An yet, the data is updated successfully. That leads us to ask the question: what was the problem 20 minutes ago? We still don't know the answer.

That is why we need some stability for the update service. We are deciding some business decisions based on this data. If this data is not updated, we may decide to take the wrong path. 

This is very important in the retail industry. For example in the grocery field, sometimes with vegetables or fruits or other products, customers need to decide to change the prices within lock days. They need to decide, based on demand, if they should increase or lower prices. They can't make the correct decisions if the numbers don't update.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability potential actually depends on your licenses. Microsoft provides three licenses. One of them is absolutely free. Another is called Pro. Yet another is per user or Premium. There is a huge difference between the Pro license and the Premium license. There is no need to scale the Pro license or other license models.

When you put the on-premise reports, you can scale out or scale up. It depends on your existing resources. However, in the services as a software (SaaS) version, it actually comes with Microsoft's units or Microsoft resources. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We have an ASFP agreement with Microsoft. As a Gold Partner, Microsoft is pretty good and responding automatically and helping us resolve issues.

If a partner does not have an ASFP agreement, they tend to have to go to forums or try to Google answers to their problems.

We are aware that sometimes when we make changes to BI, the solutions might be complex. There might be SQL involved, which needs to be taken into account, for example. We may have to look into other resources and other tools to see if there are interactions that are the issue. However, Microsoft is quite helpful as we work through issues. We're quite satisfied with their level of support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also work with and sell MicroStrategy in Turkey. 95% of the MicroStrategy projects have been completed with our company. It is a direct competitor with Power BI. My company commonly does consulting for some small and medium markets and for that we recommend Power BI. Whenever we talk about enterprise-level solutions, the company we will use is MicroStrategy.

How was the initial setup?

There isn't much of an installation process, as the solution is on the cloud.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

There is a free license, however, it is limited. The Premium license and the Pro license functionalities are very different. Whenever we talk with our customers, they ask "Should we chose the Premium?" We say that "No, you don't need to, as it's too expensive. It is much more expensive than the Pro license." However, the Pro license functionality is not enough for some customers. There is no middle between Pro and the Premium. We need something in between.

The Pro license is maybe suitable for SMBs, small and medium-sized businesses. The premium version is ideal for companies that need to scale up and out.  

There also may be some additional costs that can drive up the price.

What other advice do I have?

I prefer this product and I suggest Power BI to all customers, however, we know that if Power BI is a new idea, we make sure to show company-specific data or analytics for analyzing the data and how this solution can analyze everything quickly. That said, it's not for everybody. If all companies tried to put all their reporting expectations in the Power BI, it would not fit their expectations.

It's not a standalone solution. You need other items in your toolbelt. You need, for example, something that can handle raw data, you need warehousing, et cetera.

In general, I would rate the solution eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller
Learn what your peers think about Microsoft BI. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: January 2022.
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Irving Ginzburg
President & Owner at Altrim Systems
Reseller
Good visibility, graphic visuals, and easy to install
Pros and Cons
  • "It gives us, the ability to do a lot of analysis quickly, similar to ad hoc analysis."
  • "One of the more difficult things to do is to export some of the data from Power BI to Excel."

What is our primary use case?

We are Microsoft resellers.

We use it for clients to extract and analyze data from ERP systems. Then, we basically put it in on-premise Power BI, and once we have the reports and visuals that we want, we publish it to different members of whoever has access to see the reports. Basically, we publish it to their Power BI in the Cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

For one client, it gives all sales reps across all geographic regions access to sales data, so they know who's purchasing what product in what part of the country, and that sort of thing. It shows them overtime when sales are high and low, as well as what types of customers are buying. We occasionally connect it to external data. We link it to some demographic data, such as population figures in different provinces in Canada, to see how sales are doing.

It is beneficial. It's one of the applications we use for a client's sales reps all over the country to get all kinds of sales data. It also benefits them. They can ask, "Why isn't this customer purchasing this specific product?" So they know which customers are genuine or who are purchasing and may try to push a different line with them. It provides a wealth of useful information to the salespeople.

What is most valuable?

It gives us, the ability to do a lot of analysis quickly, similar to ad hoc analysis. People want to know, for example, which customers are purchasing which products over what time period. It's very simple to make visuals for them. We create a matrix that resembles a spreadsheet and then link it to various graphic visuals, pie charts, and other types of charts. They also get a visual sense of what's going on. Those features are fantastic.

What needs improvement?

One of the more difficult things to do is to export some of the data from Power BI to Excel. It is getting better. It's better than it was six, eight, or nine months ago, but it's still not quite there. They could probably improve that a little bit. 

The only disadvantage of how we're using it is that it can be difficult to get the data into Excel at times. A lot of users are very familiar with Excel, so having a seamless interface into Excel would be a big plus for a lot of people, in my opinion. Otherwise, it's an excellent product.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been selling Microsoft BI for two years.

I am using the most recent version.

It can be deployed both on the cloud and on-premises.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

For us, the stability has been great. We have no issues with the stability of Microsoft BI.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I believe it is a scalable product. I'm aware that they have other products on the market, but I haven't tried them. To analyze data, it appears to be scalable to fairly large businesses. Scalability is quite good.

It is not a single organization. It's amongst a few clients of mine. I would estimate the number of users to be about 20, 25, or something along those lines. Their roles vary a lot. Several users are salespeople and people in purchasing. There are also people in management who use it and people in the accounting area as well. There are also one or two more technical users who use it to export data to Excel PivotTables. These are the people who make use of it.

For one client, it's very extensively used. Others, I wouldn't say that it is used as extensively. They could use it a lot more.

How are customer service and support?

I have not had any interaction with technical support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Before using Power BI, we used a lot of Excel, Power Pivot, and other similar tools. We transitioned a lot of our data models from Excel and Power Pivot to Power BI, including the PivotTables. It was a Microsoft solution. It was Excel, from Excel and Power Pivot to Power BI.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup went quite well. It was a fairly straightforward process. There were no major hiccups.

It took approximately four to five hours to configure.

I have one client who has an administrator who updates the system. He updates the product and his data on a regular basis. I believe the data must be updated once a month. Other clients' updates are handled by me.

What about the implementation team?

We did not need assistance, we completed it in-house.

What was our ROI?

Yes, I believe so. I haven't actually measured it, but based on one particular client, I believe their company is expanding at a rapid pace. I believe a large portion of it is or a good deal of it is based on the information they receive. I believe there will be a return.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's straightforward licensing. I would guess we pay $300 to $400 per month for everyone or something along those lines.

What other advice do I have?

Depending on where they're coming from, one thing is that if you want to get deeply involved in it, you have to learn the programming language, which I believe is DAX. It is not difficult to become involved in and learn. Microsoft, in my opinion, has done a good job of making it simple. That's one area I believe people should look into if they want to learn more than just the fundamentals of the DAX programming language. Which we have done in part. Again, we are not experts, but we have looked into it.

I would rate Microsoft BI a nine out of ten. It does almost everything we require.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer:
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CFO at Travel Food Services ltd
Real User
Top 10
Very scalable and stable with a fluid interface
Pros and Cons
  • "The interface is very fluid."
  • "The challenge of this product is in truncating the table data."

What is our primary use case?

We're a retail hospitality chain spread throughout India, operating over 330 outlets across the country in various formats, ranging from a coffee chain to fast food restaurants through our in-house bespoke brands. All these brands run out of travel hubs like airports, railway stations, and highways stops. We needed a solution to manage both the multiple SKU levels and in terms of individual dynamics, the profitability of each store. We constantly track the various types of back-end raw materials, specifically on our prediction modeling where we use Power BI. We also use Power BI analytics to drive those results with regard to the day-to-day dashboarding, reporting in terms of collection, on sales trends per hour, manpower and the like. We are customers of Microsoft and I'm the CIO. 

What is most valuable?

I like that the interface is very fluid in the sense that you can upload via Excel or you can attach via connectors, any software you like.

What needs improvement?

The challenge of this product is in truncating the table data. It would be great if Microsoft would include a naming convention which has the advantage of enabling a VLOOKUP on top of it, so two tables can be merged more seamlessly. Currently, the time it takes to merge two tables in Power BI makes the entire analysis quite complex because it requires common numbering in one table and then creating another common indicator in another table in order to merge the two. It wastes precious time. 

Secondly, while they talk about visual analytics, sometimes the challenge is when you're looking for more in terms of geovisual analytics, such as city maps which requires a functionality whereby you can upload transactions. For example, if I want to visually present my data on an airport map, showing which stores are generating what revenue dependent on the traffic heat map, I am unable to do that because I cannot upload drawings. Ideally, I'd like to show each store as a bar map with waves explaining the sales in each location. It allows me to pinpoint which locations are more profitable. 

I'd like to see a degree of variability so I have the flexibility of putting those variable components in my predictive modeling, and I can get a feel for the trends. It requires a common input database. You can do it in Excel, but you can't do it in Power BI, which I find surprising.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using this solution for nine months. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is fairly stable, it doesn't get too many upgrades or updates from that perspective so it's fairly straightforward in terms of implementation and our entire ecosystem was on Microsoft which helped us. The only area that can be problematic is when you're trying to create relationships between two databases and you're trying to link it with your Power BI solution, sometimes that mapping takes considerable time.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is scalable. We are a cluster of eight legal entities and we've been able to expand to all of them. We started with 20 outlets and today we have 350 outlets. We are more granular and today Power BI allows us to drill down to the last voucher. We have around 14 users from the finance and operations teams.

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't needed to call Microsoft, because we worked with one of their gold partners in India. So we are on an AMC model with them in terms of manpower. If there are any problems or upgrades we need, we reach out to the partner. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward for the simple reason that our entire ecosystem was on Microsoft and we use Azure Web Services in terms of hosting. We split the entire project into two parts to simplify things. The first part was more about the granular analysis of sales and various other elements, which took considerable time due to the many external stakeholders involved. Phase two was relatively simple, because it was department specific and we created a split team, which led to the creation of a better platform.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Licensing is on an annual basis. We have a complete Microsoft Ecosystem license. I think there is room for improvement with the licensing, specifically during the pandemic when it would have been reasonable to offer a discount. Many other companies, SAP and Oracle, for example, gave waivers to the MSME sector. Microsoft traditionally is used by smaller or medium-sized companies so I was expecting some sort of discount on the pricing, but unfortunately that didn't happen. We managed to avoid an escalation in cost, but frankly speaking, a discount would have been much appreciated.

What other advice do I have?

It's important to understand your entire ecosystem in terms of your tables; the kinds of tables your back-end database has and the elements of analysis that you are looking at. If you are looking at predictive modeling, you need to have at least two to three years of data, because that allows you to define the trajectory of the predictive modeling. Otherwise, it doesn't serve any purpose. Secondly, be very specific with your implementation partner, as to how you'd like a particular visualization tool to look, otherwise you may not get what you want. Finally, it's important to invest in people and create a center of excellence made up of people who know Power BI well, or who will get trained and certified on it. You'll need an in-house team which can do the small tweaks and changes as you require, otherwise you'll get stuck each time you need to do something.

I rate this solution an eight out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Sai-Krishna
Manager, BI & Analytics at Perceptive Analytics
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
User-friendly, offers a flexible measure creation capability, scalable to large datasets, and has good community support
Pros and Cons
  • "Two valuable most features are the ability to create columns and create measures."
  • "In my opinion, the software is a little bit limited in terms of the flexibility it offers, with regard to the design of the visualization."

What is our primary use case?

I am currently a management consultant and, before my current employment, I was a management consultant as well. I also had a stint with an online retailer in India. My usage with Power BI has been in the area of practical day-to-day operations, web host operations, and equipment status monitoring.

What is most valuable?

Two valuable most features are the ability to create columns and create measures.

The create measures feature offers you a little bit more flexibility. You can define what kind of measure you need using a formula, and the way Power BI works is very similar to Excel. In fact, most of the functions that you use in Excel are present in Power BI as well. When you create measures or columns, you just write the formula as you would in Excel, which will allow you to visualize that data in the way that you want.

What needs improvement?

In my opinion, the software is a little bit limited in terms of the flexibility it offers, with regard to the design of the visualization. By comparison, if you look at some other visualization tools, such as Tableau, for instance, the range of designs, or the range of graphics that you can create with Tableau is far greater than what you can do with Power BI. 

Of course, they do provide an option to download templates and use them, but every time, you have to go to the Power BI store, search for those templates, download them and then use them. I think it's a growing universe of visualizers that they have, so probably, they are also working on the same thing. I believe, in terms of the designs of the visualizations that the tool can create, there is some room for improvement.

One more aspect that needs improvement is the formatting of visualizations that we create. Formatting in this context is the colors or the font style or font sizes. The formatting options, I believe, could be made a bit more user-friendly than the way things are right now. It's a little hard to figure out where to go and how to change the formatting of a particular chart or graph. So, I think the formatting options could be made a little bit more user-friendly.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Power BI for more than three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Microsoft BI is definitely stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This product is scalable and in fact, I have worked on it with fairly large datasets. It also gives you the option of publishing onto a server. When the dashboard/report is published to the Power BI server, we get a link that can be shared with others in the organization. At the enterprise level, it is possible to give access to a list of users who will have a need to look at the report frequently. These users can just click on the link and view the report whenever they want to. It is also possible for them to use filters and interact with the report.

How are customer service and technical support?

I am fairly comfortable with the tool and to this point, I really haven't felt the need to reach out to Microsoft with regard to the specific features of the tool. In case I do need some help on a particular feature, what I usually do is Google what I am trying to find and I get some links to the Microsoft community, or something similar, which answers my question.

To that extent, it has been very convenient to find help in whatever we are required to do with the software. The simple things are taken care of automatically. In case there is some trouble with the visualizations, you can always find help or assistance on the Microsoft community pages.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have also worked with Tableau and I think that each of these tools has its advantages.

I believe the cost of the software plays a deciding factor in a company's decision to implement either of the two. While each product has its pros and cons, if you're looking for something that's more value for money, then I think Power BI is the better choice.

On the other hand, if you are willing to choose an expensive option that gives you a lot more flexibility, then I think that Tableau would be a better choice.

It ultimately depends on what you are going to use it for. If you're using it for a variety of visualizations that you want to create, Tableau will be a better choice. On the other hand, if people have budget constraints then Power BI will provide a good value for the money.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. You just download the software from their website, install it, and sign in.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

This product offers good value for the money.

What other advice do I have?

In a nutshell, I recommend this product and I would suggest implementing it. It has a very good range of features that it offers. For organizations starting on their business intelligence journey, I believe Power BI is a very good tool to start with. It's very user-friendly and it provides a graphical user interface where users can just drag and drop their required fields into particular templates of visualizations. It means that you get the charts quickly. There's no complex learning curve involved. From that perspective, I would say that it's definitely worth a try.

My biggest complaint is that it's a bit limited right now, in terms of the choice of visualizations it offers.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Solution Architect
Real User
Top 20
Provides great container data flow and status related paginated reports
Pros and Cons
  • "Provides good data flow related to the container and control flow."
  • "There are some connector-related issues in their MSBA solution."

What is our primary use case?

One of our primary use cases is to build an MSBA-based business intelligence solution for  collection agents, so that they can receive daily information relating to bills in the form of ledgers. I've built several packages to import the data from where it has been dumped. I then created the data mask for data analysis to showcase all the outputs and conclusions. As a result, there is a clear breakdown of total collections, the different parameters, customer-based information, and other essential information. We are partners of Microsoft BI and I'm a solutions architect.

How has it helped my organization?

The solution has helped increase the client's total sales revenue for their collection agent. It's basically MSBA, plus an AIML kind of solution and it helps the client to increase the overall efficiency of their collection agents, increasing total revenue for the company. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the data flow related to the container and the control flow. Microsoft has recently introduced paginated reports in the status part. These are web-based and also mobile-based, depending upon the layout of the report. It can be easily printed in Word format as well as in layout format, regardless of size. 

What needs improvement?

There are some connector-related issues in their MSBA solution and there are certain features that Microsoft should include in the MSBA solution. One is the connective level problem that we currently face from the different data sources. It provides about 80% connectivity to all the data sources, but there is the remaining 20%. They could provide some kind of additional functionality which would make it a great solution. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for about 18 months. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is pretty stable in its current form, and we are working on the same platform to optimize and incorporate everything. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This solution is fully configurable and totally scalable. We are currently expanding the solution to include the area collections managers, the territory collection managers, and the regional collection managers. There are currently close to 3,000 users who are field collection agents. There is a maintenance cost but it's pretty low because it's an on-premise solution, so there is no cost attached to the server-based maintenance. Our support team is responsible for maintenance.

The solution is currently used throughout the company although there are geographical restrictions. They plan to extend usage to a pan-country level. It will take some time to implement but we are at the end stages of deployment on the pan-country level. Once completed, we expect there will be around 15,000 users. 

How are customer service and technical support?

We provide technical support as required by our clients. Urgent issues can be resolved within two or three hours. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Microsoft BI is similar to Talent and Pentaho BI but Microsoft is more competitive and flexible over the other BI solutions. We can cover up or build our end-to-end solution from scratch and that includes reporting and we don't need to go to any kind of a visualization tool for that.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex because the data vault was not totally structured and we needed to create some kind of a data lake, dump the data, then analyze it and create the data mask. We require certain validations and checks before importing or exporting the data as well as the application of the cubes to SSRS before reporting services. Deployment time can be dependent on the server and we have designed the system to optimize the process. We have a deployment team which can include two to three developers. Deployment takes about 10 minutes. The client decides on the deployment plan because they have applications that hang on the production server and don't want deployment to hamper other applications. 

What was our ROI?

Microsoft BI is provided as a BI solution to incorporate or implement all data in a single platform. It enables you to build a data mart for your company and analyze it on a single platform. Even data analysis techniques can be carried out on this platform, and output of data can be visualized from the SSRS reporting tool. In this solution, the ROI is quite high because collection has increased up to 25% in one month compared to the same month last year.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We have used a client-based service in the pricing. As yet, there are no additional costs. 

What other advice do I have?

For anyone interested in building a BI solution from scratch, it's important to be aware that the data is not taken at a single platform. I believe that Microsoft BI is the best platform for this because it gives the flexibility to store the data into an SQL Server from different sources, and the ability to first dump your data into those servers. The analysis and reporting is in the same platform. Power BI has a much greater range than SSRS. Microsoft BI is a tool that gives it to you on a single platform, and you can build an end-to-end BI solution. This is not possible in Power BI. 

This solution gives me the total flexibility to use my skill set, in the technical forms and in the analysis form, in one go. I can do several things on a single platform regarding the data science, as well as the data analysis, pulling information, analyzing data, transforming data, creating data lakes, data warehouse, and data masks, all in a single platform. 

I rate this solution a nine out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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VP Cloud Platform
Real User
Intuitive with great visuals and good scalability capabilities
Pros and Cons
  • "Technical support has been great."
  • "Most clients have MacBooks. Therefore, they use Tableau as Power BI Desktop is not available for the MacBook right now."

What is our primary use case?

We have a startup focused on analytics around sports and athletes' performance. The data sits in our platform called Hercules, which is exposed through an ODBC connector or API layer. We're currently building a connector to expose that data in a consumable way, inside Power BI (with one connector for Tableau as well). 

What is most valuable?

I love the fact that it's got a very intuitive user interface. 

I like the fact that you can create aggregations and view measures and metrics on the fly. 

I like the visuals themselves as all of our customers are moving away from Excel and this gives them a very unique way to have their data represented in a more visual manner with active slicing and dicing data right there, with the time dimensions and different dimensions. 

I also like the automatic refresh mechanism that it can do. You can have the data refresh automatically every 30 minutes, for example.

The initial setup is pretty simple. 

The stability has been pretty good.

The solution can scale.

Technical support has been great.

What needs improvement?

Most clients have MacBooks. Therefore, they use Tableau as Power BI Desktop is not available for the MacBook right now.

When you're building, the documentation sucks. It's a painful experience to find out how to do things inside the connector framework. 

I don't like the fact that they need to have a premium excuse to manage larger sets of data. On top of that, there are limitations in building a custom connector. If you want to build a custom connector for your customers, the navigation is flawed. For example, when I build a custom connector to talk to Power BI and report, I want some contextual data of the report, and I want to have what we call incremental refresh. However, incremental refresh right now is only supported in a SQL-based backend. It's not supported for API-based connectors. That's something that we really, really want. We only try to work around it.

Basically, I would love to see that incremental refresh with API-based connectors. I'd also want the report-based contextual information available inside the connector.

The licensing is very confusing.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution since about 2014. I've used it for many years at this point.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We've found the stability to be fine so far. there are no bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's easy to scale if you have the premium model. We just started exploring that right now.

The clients we have that use it are medium-sized businesses. These are basically soccer clubs or sports clubs, who are internally using it. however, we want to give it to a larger audience. We haven't gone there yet, though likely we will in the future.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support has been awesome. they are helpful and responsive and we are more than satisfied with the level of service we receive from them.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I also use Tableau. I've used Power BI to a larger extent than Tableau, however, we have a startup in which we have an audience on BI and we are doing research to see how many of them are on Tableau versus Power BI.

We didn't previously use a different solution. We started with Power BI because that was one of our device partner's tools of choice. However, we are trying to support Tableau and Power BI now.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was pretty straightforward. I mean the setup for the Power BI Desktop. The download is pretty straightforward. Once you get to do more complex things with it, using the gateway and things like that, then it gets a little complex. On top of that, the documentation is difficult. It's there, however, it's difficult to find.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The licensing is a little convoluted, and not easy to take advantage of. You're able to scale it in the premium model. However, they are very different versions. There's a difficulty in understanding which one of them applies to you and what the costs would be eventually, and what the performance and thresholds are for each one. The documentation might be there, however, for a small company, in order to find out all the aspects of licensing it's not that easy.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We've also evaluated Tableau and we use both right now.

What other advice do I have?

We are in the startup program for Microsoft.

I'm on the latest version of the solution. I cannot speak to the exact version number.

It's deployed on the cloud for automatic refreshment service and it's got a gateway on-prem.

It's a very good tool to quickly get started and it does scale, however, as you get into the larger deployments and at a larger scale, it's better to involve a Power BI expert or a partner to help you get there.

I'd rate the solution at an eight out of ten. There's room for improvement from the setup and scale perspective.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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Program Director Education Technology & Data Services at a government with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
It's good for training and teaching, handles Excel data well
Pros and Cons
  • "I like the fact that Power BI lets me use Excel data. At least 90% of my state data is in Excel spreadsheets. Having the ability to just attach a spreadsheet as a data source is very, very important. It's also good for training and teaching. Sometimes you don't always have access to a live production database, so having a spreadsheet with sample data is always nice."
  • "The Microsoft BI interface should be simpler and more user-friendly. I find it very difficult to move between their data sources and their analytics section."

What is our primary use case?

I would describe myself as more of a casual user, only because I have so many other things that I have to get done. I wish I could be more of a user, but it's hard. Right now, I have two different main use cases. I use it for teaching. At another institution, I use it for demonstrating how easy it is to build dashboards. It was really to show to all my users the benefit of business analytics. I use it to demonstrate how easy it is to generate your own analytics versus having a department run reports for you then putting it in Excel and making graphs. 

What is most valuable?

I like the fact that Power BI lets me use Excel data. At least 90% of my state data is in Excel spreadsheets. Having the ability to just attach a spreadsheet as a data source is very, very important. It's also good for training and teaching. Sometimes you don't always have access to a live production database, so having a spreadsheet with sample data is always nice.

What needs improvement?

The Microsoft BI interface should be simpler and more user-friendly. I find it very difficult to move between their data sources and their analytics section. It's probably designed by data analysts that typically get the data from somewhere else. So, one person logs into Power BI, moves the data around and puts it in the proper form then somebody else goes in from the dashboard. What I'm finding more and more is that the person playing with the data is also going to be the person building the dashboard, so the interface needs to be more seamless and dumbed down for the average user. 

Tableau is much better at that, which is probably why it's more expensive. The days where one person works on the data and someone else does the analytics are coming to an end. In the past, larger organizations usually had a dedicated analytics team and a dedicated data team. Now we buy data as a service, so we got rid of our data team and we don't have analysts per se. Instead, we have smart users. So I think Microsoft BI needs to move on to the next iteration of truly user-friendly solutions.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Microsoft BI for about three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Microsoft BI has never crashed on me.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I honestly can't comment on how scalable Microsoft BI is because I've never taken it beyond training or simple use. But I would imagine, if it's on Azure, that it's scalable. I haven't had the pleasure of scaling it, so I don't know, but it doesn't strike me as a solution that would have problems with scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have not had to contact technical support, but I've actually downloaded and taken three Power BI courses for free and they're very good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I was using Tableau but the licensing cost went up when Salesforce required them to raise the price. But if the price hadn't changed, I would've absolutely stuck with Tableau because I like it. I do not know about the cost of the licenses. We buy it from the state and when it went up, our CIO at the time said no more Tableau licenses. I had to scramble to find a replacement, and fortunately, I discovered that Power BI is included in Microsoft 365. However, I prefer Tableau's interface. Microsoft BI's user interface is convoluted in terms of how you attach a data source. You have a separate screen for defining your data and then you have to jump to a different screen to model the results. In other words, there are two separate interfaces for data and analytics. In Tableau, it's more seamless. 

How was the initial setup?

Setup is very easy. You click on the icon, download the MSI, and it loads itself. It takes about a couple of hours to deploy overall.

What other advice do I have?

I'd rate Microsoft BI as an eight out of 10. The biggest drawback is the user interface. From what I'm seeing, Windows 11 is going to have a more user-friendly interface. Even Microsoft Edge is adopting a more user-friendly interface. I'm hoping that Power BI follows this trend as well. 

My advice for anyone who is thinking about adopting Microsoft BI is to understand what you're trying to do with it. If you're trying to do analytics with it, then it depends on the kind of analytics. If you're want to do statistical analytics, it's not the tool for you. It's a tool that's better suited for visual analytics than it is for straight-up analytics. If you're dealing with patterns and data, it's great. If you're working with numbers and data, it's not so good. You're better off with a statistical package.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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