This past week, Gartner released their Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Business Intelligence (BI) solutions – and it has seemingly set the business world abuzz. More specifically, Microsoft Power BI showed up in a major way in its first year on the MQ, so people are taking notice, consumers and vendors alike. I decided that it would probably be helpful to get some perspective on what it means for Microsoft fans, non-Microsoft fans, independent software vendors, and the business world in general. I sat down with the CEO of Solver EMEA, Johan Magnusson, to discuss Gartner’s BI MQ, and he had a lot to say about the MQ in general and how consumers should interpret the latest edition in order to make the best decisions regarding a BI solution investment.
Let’s talk about Gartner’s Magic Quadrants, the most recent release being focused on Business Intelligence solution providers. As an independent software vendor (ISV) CEO, why are these important for consumers – and the marketplace?
Johan Magnusson: When a corporation chooses a specific application, I think it is important for them to look at the environment around that specific application. If you have made a strategic decision to go with a Microsoft Business Intelligence platform, you want your applications to run well in that environment. BI360, as a Corporate Performance Management (CPM) suite, is uniquely positioned to have the best fit possible with the Microsoft Business Intelligence products. As Microsoft strengthens its position in the marketplace around BI, the demand for BI360’s budgeting, reporting and data warehouse modules increases.
You guys produce BI360 as a solution for data management and analytics. BI360 has been on the Gartner Magic Quadrant two consecutive years in a row for Corporate Performance Management (CPM). What is the different between BI and CPM? Where do they overlap?
JM: Again, it’s very important that you look at BI and CPM as two environments working closely together when data needs to be shared. The recently released Gartner BI-quadrant where Microsoft is the leader, is focused around Advanced Analytics, while the CPM quadrant is more focused around financial reporting, consolidations and budgeting. Previously, both quadrants had an overlap regarding reporting (operational), but from 2016 on, that will be covered in a third Reporting quadrant expected soon.
What can you say about these technology marketplaces and the role that solutions like BI360 play in business today?
JM: BI360 is part of a new generation of CPM tools that have had the full advantage of using all the developments tools in the marketplace today versus an older tool that has been re-written and patched for years and years. It’s pretty obvious that this is a great advantage for tools like BI360. I also think that many of the larger companies with CPM tools from IBM, SAP, Oracle and SAS Institute have in the past been in a position to sell their software at a high premium price, due to the fact that there hasn’t been any other options in the marketplace. This has completely changed today when customer are choosing tools like B360 because it is user-friendly and flexible instead of the many legacy tools that were born in the 1990’s when it was normal with heavy support from IT.
What is Solver’s relationship to Microsoft? Where do Microsoft products and BI360 intersect?
JM: Solver is closer to Microsoft than ever before. We have a tight collaboration around customer and partner opportunities worldwide. BI360 is entirely developed based on Microsoft technology and is made to fit 100% with all the other tools in the Microsoft Business Intelligence stack as well as with all the Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems.
How can consumers, specifically finance, accounting, and IT folks, leverage products like BI360 with Microsoft to build a best-of-breed solution for financial and analytical processes?
JM: When BI360 is built to “talk” with all of the Microsoft tools in the marketplace, we can start by ensuring a smooth and cost effective implementation. For example, BI360 has pre-built integrations to most of the tables in the Microsoft Dynamics ERP systems, which make it user friendly for the accounting team for their development of financial reports and budgets. Also, you can deploy Power BI for visualization and dashboard functionality for sales managers and executive teams and have it integrated with BI360 for the finance and accounting teams.
What kind of developments can consumers look forward to in terms of technology in the BI and CPM space?
JM: Cloud solutions and web and mobile interfaces are on the top of the list at the moment. The driving motivation behind this is to be able to offer the customers easy access to information and even more cost effective solutions in the future. Another hot topic is collaboration around various processes. A couple of examples could include the CEO collaborating with the management team or during a budgeting process where the budget contributors are collaborating with the budget approvers.
Microsoft is making a lot of waves at the start of this year. From Convergence being rebranded to Envision, with a wider scope and focus, to some critical conversation surrounding Management Reporter, and now Power BI making such a strong showing in its first year on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence, consumers have had a lot to discuss. The Microsoft community, and specifically, the Microsoft Dynamics consumer base has had a lot to think about as 2016 gets started with a bang. Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s web-powered, easy-to-use Excel and mobile BI tools with both real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis, budgeting and dashboards as a way to accelerate company performance management with Microsoft Dynamics.