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Microsoft Upsets Cloud Giants: Leads Analytics/BI Race with AI-Powered Copilots

Microsoft Upsets Cloud Giants: Leads Analytics/BI Race with AI-Powered Copilots

A recent Gartner report throws a curveball in the Analytics/Business Intelligence (ABI) space. The leader? Microsoft, surging ahead with its innovative AI-powered Copilots and the phenomenal rise of Power BI.

Microsoft’s AI Advantage

Gartner identifies Microsoft’s strength in Copilots, AI assistants handling diverse tasks from coding web apps to scheduling meetings. These leverage generative AI, a technology Microsoft strategically integrates across its products.

This strategic use is evident in Power BI, where a Copilot streamlines report creation using generative AI. Gartner acknowledges this as a key driver of the platform’s surging adoption.

Beyond Report Creation: Essential ABI Features

While report creation is crucial, Gartner outlines other essential ABI features vendors must offer:

  • Interactive Data Visualization: Highly interactive dashboards and user control over chart manipulation.
  • Robust Governance: Capabilities to track usage, secure information, and manage sharing and promotion.
  • Pixel-Perfect Reporting: Tools to generate paginated reports with scheduling and mass distribution options.
  • Searchable Analytics Catalog: A system for easy discovery and consumption of analytical content, including recommendations for users.
  • Data Preparation: Drag-and-drop functionality for user-driven data combination from various sources and creation of analytical models.
  • Data Science Integration: Features enabling collaborative development and prototyping of machine learning models by both citizen and professional data scientists.

Microsoft Takes the Lead, Cloud Giants Lag Behind

Gartner reports Microsoft dominating user adoption due to the massive growth of their cloud-based Power BI service. This is attributed to strategic bundling with Microsoft 365 and tight integration with Teams, ideal for today’s remote work environments.

In a surprising turn of events, cloud giants AWS and GCP are absent from the Leaders quadrant. While Google joins Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, and others at the top, AWS falls under “Challengers,” and IBM lands in the “Visionary” category.

One interesting takeaway: while cloud usually reigns supreme in AI/analytics, Microsoft’s lack of an on-premises Power BI option (Azure-only) is listed as a potential drawback.

Shifting Landscape: Conversational Interfaces and Openness

Gartner highlights a significant shift towards conversational interfaces in ABI platforms. Users can now simply type their reporting needs, with the platform translating them into queries using natural language processing and generative AI.

Another key trend is the growing importance of open platforms and multi-cloud approaches. Cloud service providers are acknowledging this by prioritizing openness within their software stacks to cater to organizations running applications across multiple cloud environments.

Microsoft’s AI-powered Copilots and the success of Power BI position them as the unexpected leader in the ABI race. As the industry embraces conversational interfaces and open ecosystems, it will be interesting to see how other players adapt and compete.

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