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As the last Magic Quadrant Gartner confirms, Microsoft has already done a great job in bridging the gap and reaching the Business Intelligence leaders Tableau and Qlik. The spearhead of the Microsoft BI stack is obviously Power BI, that gives to the Redmond Company, together with other BI software SSRS and Datazen, the most complete suite of any vendor in the BI market today.
But let’s see which are some key features and concepts behind Microsoft Power BI success:
A point of strength of Power BI is the community of users, that is strictly in touch with the Developers’ Team.
On the portal ideas.powerbi.com hundreds of users open new topics suggesting new implementations: the topics most voted by the community are taken in charge by the Power BI Developers Team, that updates constantly the progress of the tasks, marking them as “Under review”, “Planned”, “Started” or “Completed”.
But maybe almost more powerful is the ability for users to develop their own charts and visualizations and to submit them to powerbi.com: the Power BI Team analyzes, tests and eventually approves the visuals: the contents are then published in a Custom Visual Gallery, letting everybody to import and use them in their own dashboards, in addition to the traditional charts. This gives to dashboards a great variety of insights and improves the visualization experience.
With the last February release, Microsoft gave on free preview the capability to share on public websites the dashboards created. This is a revolution for Microsoft BI, until this moment limited inside organizations and companies: now it is possible to share data, reports and stories to everyone, embedding in a web page one row of simple HTML code.
It is possible to understand how this is revolutionary, comparing it for example with the competitor Qlikview, where the dashboard sharing has several constraints based on the (expensive) licenses purchased by users.
At the moment available just on powerbi.com, the Q&A (“Questions&Answers”) functionality is an extraordinary feature that lets the users to create a dashboard just typing a search based on natural language, as everybody does every day on Google (you can see an example in the printscreen below), or, after the recent integration between Power BI and Cortana, speaking into the device microphone. In real time Power BI queries the available datasets and automatically shows the results in charts and visualizations, that can be pinned with one click to our dashboard and then shared with colleagues or on the web. This functionality, that has no corrispective on any competitor, makes Power BI the most democratic BI tool because enables also non-technical personnel to create their own dashboard without requesting ICT department’s help.
These are just some of the new stunning features of Microsoft Power BI but the sensation is that the best has yet to come.