Smart Data & Solutions

Challenges of Modern Enterprise BI and Microsoft PowerBI

29.10.2020

Modern Enterprise BI is the new battle cry from Microsoft and there are reasons why Microsoft and Power BI are the leading BI platform for years and continuously help companies to solve their challenges in Analytics and Business Insights.

Modern Enterprise BI brings together two worlds: the traditional generation of business insights and the new opportunities of automation and personalization of advanced analytics.
Reading this article will give you a better understanding of what challenges BI executives and managers currently face with their platforms. Furthermore, we showcase how one of the market leaders in the field, Microsoft, addresses these challenges.

What challenges are you facing with your BI department and is your current provider helping you overcome your challenges?

Definition and trends

The Business Application Research Center (BARC) defines Modern Enterprise BI as follows:

To get a better understanding what Modern Enterprise BI means, it is important to dissect the words modern and enterprise. The word span shows the fundamental meaning of enterprise, as the platform should connect a variety of application, which can be either based on data (such as CRM systems), information (such as dashboard) or operations (such as business workflows). The modern part of the platform reveals itself, when looking closer into analytical, embedded, and standalone. To get a better idea, what applications and features your platform should support, here a small, non-exhaustive list:

  • AI-powered visuals for BI Dashboards
  • Self-Service BI
  • User Personalization of BI Experience
  • Enablement of Data Science Workloads in Backend

Challenges of BI Heads

BI heads face expectations from business departments like the desire to improve productivity or to enable Advanced Analytics– simply a solution for all problems. To establish a well performing BI platform, we see BI departments most often struggling with some of the following business needs:

  • Integrate and align several departments with deviating demands and data structures.
  • Establish a uniform understanding and interpretation of KPIs. 
  • Create comparability with data models and licensed KPIs. 
  • Deal with visualization tools already in place or given interests of stakeholders. 

The architecture of a Modern Enterprise BI platform assures that business needs are met and that the platform can flexibly meet requirements and support new use cases. The architecture consists of three layers:

Data Foundation

The integration and storage layer for all application data providing insights into business operations and internal processes.

Enterprise Data Models

Verified data models, which can be technically provided by the BI department and which are owned by business departments. Unified data transformations provided to the company, including advanced analytics workflows.

Business Use Cases

Value generating solutions for the various departments of the company, usually owned by a business department and developed and operated with the BI department.

Alongside these layers, overarching requirements for data privacy (GDPR), cost efficiency (license management) or IT security needs to be centrally organized and met.

How does the market leader address these challenges?

Microsoft is not only market leader of this year’s Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms”, they are an assigned leader for now 13 consecutive years. As we currently see a widespread migration towards cloud-based solutions and advanced capabilities being added to almost all solution provider. It becomes essential to strategically choose a provider and get the most of your current solutions in-house.

To give you a better idea, why Microsoft is in such a strong position, consider the following arguments with emphasis on toolset and experience:

  • Microsoft is for over 30 years a market leader in data warehouses. With Azure Synapse a new modern DWH solution was released recently. It comes with huge performance benefits for data transfer and data integration, workbench to compute and handle workflows (Synapse Link, Synapse Analytics) and a native integration of PowerBI.
  • Microsoft Azure as one of the leading cloud platforms provides a variety of option in terms of storage, application and AI services, which can be integrated and used within your BI environment. 
  • Microsoft provides a digital workplace solution with Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and other O365 tools, which can be easily combined with PowerBI-based data applications.
  • PowerBI is a powerful visualization tool, capable of competing with any solution on the market such as Tableau or Qlik. It is adding continuously features powered by AI to the tool stack, provide a huge marketplace for buying and providing visualization tools and comes in handy with its built-in data manipulation tool Power Query.
  • PowerBI is part of the PowerPlatform, a no code / low code platform with solutions for workflow automation (PowerAutomate), business applications (PowerApp) and virtual assistants (PowerVirtualAgent).

Each of these arguments stands for its own set of tools, Microsoft provides for its Enterprise BI partner. It is not only important to get a one-size-fits-all solution, but to focus on your specific requirements and strategy to select the right tools and methods for your architectural layers. One aspect to keep in mind, it is not prerequisite to select only one provider for your tools, but as market leader Microsoft provides strong options for all your needs and requirements. The following graph provides a bigger picture of how these services map into your architectural structure.

Outlook

We faced and are still facing the Corona Crisis and it showed that many challenges BI departments are facing remain and are dominant as before. The pressure caused by competition will rise as more and more companies are migrating their BI platforms to the cloud and working hard to gain advantages by using advanced analytics in their data application.

Not only the selection of the right toolset and provider is essential, an underlying BI strategy is crucial. This read is essential for this topic.

Microsoft is continuously progressing and providing new features to its Modern Enterprise BI platform. We stay excited to follow the new features and how they can provide value for the data solutions of our customers. To learn more about the new Enterprise BI features, Microsoft presented on the Ignite, you should have a look on this article.

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