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Power BI – The Winner Takes it All?

Robert Tischler Rüdiger SpiesFebruary 2023: BARC Research Fellow Rüdiger Spies and Senior Analyst Robert Tischler examine the impact Microsoft Power BI has had on the BI & analytics market. Microsoft has gained a large market share in a relatively short amount of time with Power BI. But can it succeed in becoming to BI & analytics what SAP is to ERP?

The trigger

Recently, many of our customers have been asking whether it will be enough to focus only on Microsoft’s Power BI for dashboards, reports and BI in general in the future.

Microsoft’s success

It looks as if Microsoft has succeeded in pushing many of its competitors to the edge of (or even out of) the BI & analytics market, thus generating a lot of business for its own data & analytics offering.

Simply put, Power BI is an entry portal for analyzing, distributing and, above all, visualizing business data, and is also designed to put a stop to the rampant, uncoordinated proliferation of Excel spreadsheets. IT strategists and IT architects have liked the solution from the get-go and it has also become very popular among users. It has even been widely adopted in financial departments because the initial visible cost of using Power BI is comparatively low. Microsoft has thus succeeded in gaining a large market share in a relatively short amount of time. According to the BARC study The BI & Analytics Survey 23, almost 30 percent of companies currently opt for Power BI and almost 60 percent evaluate it.

Will Power BI become to BI & analytics what SAP is to ERP?

Although the functions and areas of application are very different, there are significant parallels between Microsoft and SAP, as well as some revealing conclusions.

One similarity lies in the respective technical and organizational complexity of ERP and BI & analytics. The new introduction of an ERP system is often about harmonizing a heterogeneous application landscape, while the introduction of BI & analytics software often aims to bring about a uniform view of the data available in the company. The initial motivation is therefore comparable. However, the markets for ERP and BI & analytics are still very diverse and, conservatively speaking, there are at least 100 providers in each market segment. Another common factor is the complexity of the business problems these market segments address. Depending on the individual company and the vertical concerned, they are tasked with solving a very specific set of issues.

Introducing complex analytics solutions is rarely straightforward. Even for larger midsize companies (with 1,000 – 5,000 employees), this is still a complex project (e.g., due to cost and lack of skills). Such users have often relied on reports integrated into business applications in the era of enterprise BI platforms, or they simply use Excel. This situation has changed with the introduction of self-service products (e.g., Qlik, Tableau) and, to a lesser extent, Power BI, which place a strong emphasis on visualization. Nevertheless, the introduction of such BI products requires preparation and potentially the harmonization of data from different data sources and a common data management system (data warehouse) independent of the operational systems and data quality management. At this point, the limits of the current version of Power BI are reached. Other products are required within more complex analytics solutions, especially in larger enterprises with lots of users. It is barely conceivable that Power BI can currently replace highly complex analytics solutions such as those from Teradata and SAS Institute. This would also mean that the specific advantages of Power BI (e.g., ease of use) are lost.

This returns us to the question posed above: As complexity continues to increase, there will continue to be a need for BI & analytics capabilities that go beyond the functionality of simple reporting, dashboards and especially visualization.

Although the importance of Power BI will continue to increase, we assume it will not be the only dominant solution in the overall market for BI & analytics because the range of requirements will continue to be too broad to map in just one tool. According to systems theory, it can be argued that complex tasks can only very rarely be meaningfully addressed with simple solutions. Complex tasks demand a complex response. In relation to the question above, this means that we do not expect a single tool from a single vendor – not even Power BI – will be sufficient to get complete answers from existing data and, increasingly importantly, also for business planning. Power BI remains a good starting option for simple data analysis, and also to build awareness of data across the business.

Conclusion and recommendation

Rather than using just one tool “because others do it too”, companies are still well advised to keep up to date with the ever-changing range of BI & analytics tools on the market. This is because the requirements of one company may differ significantly from those of others. To successfully implement BI & analytics, it remains important to focus on a broad skill set for in-house teams and not to depend on just one tool landscape. Ultimately, the selection of suitable tools and their use should lead to improved exploitation of the potential of enterprise data in order to keep ahead of the competition.

BARC analyst Timm Grosser

The Big Data Catalog Market Comparison – Part 3

Timm Grosser, BARC Senior Analyst, discusses BARC’s recent webinar ‘Portals to Enterprise Data Knowledge – 6 Data Catalog Products in Direct Comparison’ in which data catalog providers Alation, Collibra, Informatica, Synabi, dataspot and Zeenea went head to head.

BARC analyst Timm Grosser

The Big Data Catalog Market Comparison – Part 2

Timm Grosser, BARC Senior Analyst, discusses BARC’s recent webinar ‘Portals to Enterprise Data Knowledge – 6 Data Catalog Products in Direct Comparison’ in which data catalog products Synabi, dataspot and Zeenea went head to head

BARC analyst Timm Grosser

The Big Data Catalog Market Comparison – Part 1

Timm Grosser, BARC Senior Analyst, discusses BARC’s recent webinar ‘Portals to Enterprise Data Knowledge – 6 Data Catalog Products in Direct Comparison’

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Prophix to Acquire Sigma Conso

Prophix today announced its acquisition of Sigma Conso, a Belgian-based CPM software and service provider, from Fortino Capital Partners

Authors: Dr. Christian Fuchs and Larissa Baier

Published: 27 October 2021

Today, Prophix, the Canadian CPM software vendor announced it will be acquiring Sigma Conso, the Belgian financial performance management (FPM) specialist. Prophix itself was acquired by Hg, one of the largest specialist tech investors in Europe in January 2021, valuing the company at around $500-$600m. Hg is now accelerating and scaling Prophix’s growth through the acquisition of Sigma Conso, which itself only received a growth investment from Fortino Capital Partners in June 2020. This is the first instance of inorganic growth in Prophix’s corporate history.

From a use case perspective, Prophix and Sigma Conso’s offerings fit together nicely. Whereas Prophix is strongly focused on CPM use cases such as planning, budgeting and forecasting, reporting and analysis, Sigma Conso has its strengths in FPM, offering software for financial consolidation and close, management reporting, intercompany reconciliation as well as specialty solutions for IFRS 16 and iXBRL. Sigma Conso is a cloud-native product that matches Prophix’s future cloud strategy.

The acquisition adds 70 employees and 600 customers to Prophix’s workforce and customer base. With its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and local offices in Europe and Asia, Sigma Conso has customers in 20 countries. Its main presence, however, is currently across Europe with the majority of customers in the Benelux region and France, but also in Italy, Spain and other countries.

With the addition of Sigma Conso’s technology and resources, Prophix strengthens its capabilities for consolidation and close, while also extending its global reach with key geographic access to sell Prophix into Europe and Asia. Moreover, Sigma Conso’s solutions could be a valuable addition for Prophix’s existing customer base of over 1,600 active customers of all company sizes and industries in more than 100 countries, mainly in North America. Sigma Conso’s existing customers may also find Prophix to be a valuable extension for CPM, which until now has been addressed with a partner product (Unit4 FP&A).

Overall, we believe the acquisition makes sense and creates various market opportunities for Prophix (new regions, new use cases, etc.), but also potential benefits for Sigma Conso’s customers. By broadening its portfolio, Prophix is closing the gap on competitors such as Board, Jedox, Unit4 and Workday, who also offer integrated financial consolidation and close solutions in their CPM portfolios.

BARC will continue to observe with interest Sigma Conso’s integration into Prophix. At first glance, the two company cultures, company sizes and technological approaches seem to fit very well together for further expansion.

Further Reading

Prophix press release announcing the acquisition of Sigma Conso

BARC analyst Timm Grosser

Briefing Insights: The Talend Business User Offensive

Timm Grosser, BARC’s Senior Analyst for Data Management, offers some takeaways from his recent briefing with Talend, creators of the Data Fabric platform.

BARC analyst Timm Grosser

Briefing Insights: Zeenea – The Adaptive Data Catalog

Timm Grosser, BARC’s Senior Analyst for Data Management, looks at Zeenea, the young and growing French data catalog software provider.

BARC analyst Timm Grosser

The Data Catalog – The “Yellow Pages” for Business-Relevant Data

BARC analyst Timm GrosserAn overview of data catalogs by BARC Analyst Timm Grosser, including tips on how to select the right data cataloging solution for your organization.

Data is essential for companies to keep up with the digital age. Everyone knows that by now. But it’s not so easy to extract the desired value from data and shine with innovative, data-driven business applications. Instead, we often see data chaos that has been growing for years in the form of fragmented data landscapes and distributed expert knowledge.

A hotly discussed technological approach to make knowledge of distributed data available is the data catalog, the “Yellow Pages” for business-relevant data. It stores information about data in the form of metadata and structures, and makes it searchable.

A data catalog tool achieves its usefulness primarily through three essential points:

  1. covering information needs quickly and easily
  2. capturing and curating metadata (knowledge) as efficiently (automated) as possible
  3. providing a platform for the exchange of knowledge for “all”

In addition, functions for data governance and/or data access are valuable.

Finding the right tool can be more complicated than you might expect. The market for data catalogs is anything but transparent. As with other trending areas, the range of products is exploding and we are now aware of more than 90 solutions with data cataloging functions operating worldwide. But not all data cataloging is the same. These offerings vary in focus, content, features and supported use cases. The following table provides an overview of the basic tool types for data cataloging. Basically, there are options for specific use cases (as part of a BI or analytics user tool, as part of an environment) and offerings that provide a comprehensive, independent solution (specialists, as part of a data governance (DG)/data management (DM) platform).

Pay particular attention to interfaces and transparent, open metadata models for metadata exchange with other catalogs and systems when selecting a data catalog. This offers you a number of advantages:

– You avoid vendor lock-in and can use the tool’s capabilities in a targeted manner

– You can more easily transfer catalogs from different areas or environments to a parent catalog

– It allows easier migration or integration with more powerful tools or tools with a different focus

Catalog scenario Characteristics Tool examples
…homemade Rudimentary catalog functions Excel, Confluence, Wiki, …
…as part of a BI/analytics tool Catalog functions related to the data/artifacts in the environment Alteryx, Qlik, Tableau, …
…as part of an environment Catalog functions related to technical data/artifacts in the environment Amazon, Cloudera, Google, …
…as specialist Comprehensive catalog functions related to data and partly artifacts from different tools/environments, added functionality such as data governance Alation, Waterline, Zeenea, …
…as part of a data governance/DM platform Comprehensive catalog functions related to data and partly artifacts from different tools/environments. Additional functionality from the portfolio (e.g., workflows, data quality, etc.) Collibra, Infogix, Informatica, SAP, …

Table 1: Data Cataloging tool types

When selecting a data catalog, its functions should be carefully checked. A checklist should normally include:

– Adapters and functions for metadata integration and exchange

– Supported content (e.g., supported metadata types, openness and extensibility of the metadata model)

– Functions and machine support for the maintenance (curation) of metadata

– Functions and machine support for catalog use and search/navigation/analysis of metadata

– Ease of use

– Support for collaboration

– Further data management functions (e.g., for data governance, data preparation, data quality and data protection)

We are also happy to support you directly – with our best practice experience, established process models and numerous templates – through the entire selection process from requirements gathering to the creation of a shortlist, proof of concept support and deciding which tool to use. This gives you greater decision security, saves you time and resources and provides you with a partner who can help to create a data cataloging roadmap which is both transparent and acceptable to management and relevant stakeholders.

BARC analyst Timm Grosser

Briefing Insights: MariaDB Corporation

Timm Grosser, BARC’s Senior Analyst for Data Management, shares his thoughts on the open source database vendor, MariaDB Corporation.

BARC analyst Timm Grosser

Briefing Insights: Safyr – The Metadata Middleware for Packaged Application Software Like SAP

Impressions of Silwood Technology’s Safyr product – metadata middleware for packaged application software like SAP – by Timm Grosser, Senior Analyst at BARC.