Who’s the Gartner Leaders in Analytics and BI?

It appears there’s nothing stopping Microsoft run at being the clear leaders across its cloud and data services.

Just announced, and for the 13th consecutive year, #Microsoft has been positioned as leader in the Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms.

For the 2nd year running Microsoft is positioned furthest to the right for completeness of vision and furthest up in the ability to execute within the leaders’ Quadrant. Beating Salesforce, IBM Tableau, Oracle and SAP to the top right spot buy more than just a bit! #PowerBI #microsoft365

Gartner Quadrant for Analytics and BI

Microsoft and Gartner put this leading position down to the following:

Many of the strengths of Power BI come directly from our customer feedback such as:

  • Power BI insights and Office 365 productivity. Power BI looks and feels exactly like the rest of the familiar Office application making every user instantly productive.
  • Find answers fast with industry-leading AI. Power BI incorporates many of the latest advances in Microsoft AI to help non-data scientists prepare data, build machine learning models, and find insights quickly from both structured and unstructured data, including text and images.
  • Meet the most demanding enterprise needs. Power BI works together with Azure Synapse Analytics to enable fast, interactive analysis across petabytes of data.
  • Comprehensive data protection. Power BI is the only BI product that claims to be able to secures customer data through Microsoft Information Protection and Microsoft Cloud App Security, even when data is exported out of Power BI.
  • Turning insights into action. Users can go straight from data to insights and insights to action with the Microsoft Power Platform, combining Power BI with Power Apps and Power Automate to easily build business applications.
PowerBI dashboard

Click here to get the full Gartner Report

Do you use PowerBI?

New AI capabilities promise to transform the physical retail space

OK so a short blog this time and about something I don’t usually write much about… Dynamics

Microsoft have announced 2 major and significant new features coming to its #Dynamics 365 platform which will essentially bring Dynamics 365 AI into real stores.. Which is actually really really cool..

Aimed at bringing AI driven insights to physical retail stores

These two new retail-focused apps named are called “Dynamics 365 Commerce” and “Dynamics 365 Connected Store”.

  • Dynamics 365 Commerce is a solution that will unifiy back office, in-store, call center and digital experiences all within a single interface with “intelligent” features.
  • Dynamics 365 Connected Store will help companies improve the physical retail experience by analysing data from video cameras and IoT sensors to help show traffic flow, dwell zones, dead areas etc allowing retail spaces to better visualise and plan their store front layouts and adjust based on where people foot fall and grouping occurs.

Dynamics 365 Connected Store will help companies improve the physical retail experience by analysing data from video cameras and IoT sensors to help show traffic flow, dwell zones, dead areas etc allowing retail spaces to better visualise and plan their store front layouts and adjust based on where people foot fall and grouping occurs.

This could add real competitive edge to Dynamics retail customers

This release wave will also see a new Dynamics 365 Product Insights, a new application with Dynamics 365 which will use product telemetry to help companies “build richer relationships and improve engagement.”

Learn More – There is a free Microsoft Business Applications Virtual Launch Event on the 10th October in which the world will learn more.

What are Flow and Power Apps all about ?

I was in a client meeting earlier today and we were talking about process automation, their journey to Microsoft 365 and shifting workloads from on-premise to cloud. During the meeting, the words “Microsoft Flow”, Microsoft PowerApps and “Power Platform” came up a handful of times until one of my customers said “Sorry, don’t mean to sound dumb, but what is Flow and PowerApps?”

Now then…I am not an expert in either of these (well yet anyway), but I have been playing around with these for a little while and just wanted to summarise (in-case there are others that simply don’t know) what these are and why you might/should care.

In Summary, Microsoft’s PowerPlatform is made up of a handful of core services, including Flow, PowerApps, Power BI and Dynamics 365

Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Flow is a cloud based services that can helps you (yes the user not just admins) automate almost any process. Flow is accessed from the Office 365 App Launcher and it does indeed look and feel like it is part of Microsoft Office 365 but actually it is more part of the Business Apps products group and more aligned, in essence to more to Power BI and Dynamics 365.

With Microsoft Flow you can easily build a set of steps that link together to form a process (a bit like If this then that) that start when a certain event happens or is trigger. These events can be a scheduled time, the update or creation of data (for example a file, record or an email) or they can be triggered manually (there’s even Flow buttons you can create). .

All the processes developed in Microsoft Flow use a browser based Flow Designer tool and enable users to create Flows without the need to do any coding (though you can so think “No or Low Code”.

There are loads (hundreds in fact) of template Flows to get you started and i was amazed how quickly it was to set-up a simple “trigger” flow that would detect an email containing a simple string (from a particular sender), send me an alert and add the email body to a Microsoft OneNote page.

Example Flow

I’m not going to go in to “how to create and use” Flows here as the links below will help get you started quickly…definitely worth a play around with one lunchtime!

Power Apps

PowerApps is also part of this “No or Low Code” Power Platform and really they shouldn’t be seen as separate products since they tie in and work really well together.

PowerApps essentially helps people create the interface into the business processes (Flow) that they would like to implement. PowerApps are often used by organisations to replace paper based processes – its similar in nature, if you are familiar with the kinds of apps and forms that Lotus Notes used to offer….

Who’s experts in this space.

There are quite a few dedicated Microsoft Partners in this space, but a couple of good sites and references to learn more (ones i am using anyway) are listed below