Platform Convergence at Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2018

Published on May 31, 2018 - by corey m turner under analytics

As we ramp up our excitement for the Microsoft Business Applications summit in July, there’s plenty of banter about BI platforms.  It’s not unlike to the iOS/Android or MacOS/Windows debates, really.  Data nerds can be passionate about their platforms of choice.

Like Keith (and like most dataviz geeks) I cut my teeth on Tableau.  I will always remember the moment when those lights first clicked on, and I suddenly grasped the enormity of what was possible with a set of data and the mindset to build the tools to let that data tell the story it had been aching to tell.

You never forget that first time, do you?  I will always love Tableau.

And yet, in the space of a couple of years, Microsoft has disrupted the BI landscape.  For the first time this year, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report shows Microsoft equal to Tableau in ability to execute.  And substantially ahead in completeness of vision.   In 2018, Microsoft stands alone on the plot.  Besides Tableau, and maybe Qlik:  everyone else is an also-ran.

Having spent the last two years immersed in Power BI based deliveries,  I’ll confess:  I was initially skeptical of Microsoft in this space.  But over time, it’s become apparent that Power BI isn’t just a standalone tool.  It’s a part of a larger platform, and one incredibly central to Microsoft’s vision for their entire Business Application segment.It’s that completeness of vision that’s most excited me as the platform has matured.  Because, let’s be honest here:  once Microsoft devotes their attention to a given sector, there is no other company that has as substantial or as diverse a portfolio of technologies and products to leverage into that space.


 There are plenty of technical sessions I’m excited to attend at the summit.  That will be another blog post entirely.  Focused on the rapidly increasing strength of the platform itself, I’m most excited by these sessions:

The Value of M365 in the Modern Workspace for Business Analysts

Speaker : Yana Terukhova

Why does this one lead my list?  Because Excel is still the most widely used analytic platform in the world.  And in Microsoft’s vision, that market share isn’t going away, no matter how excited any of us are about newer approaches.  Microsoft has continued to extend the strengths of excel with many of the same services that drive Power BI.  Recently, Microsoft announced that Excel would be able to leverage the same open visualization library that Power BI uses.  As these capabilities become available across the enterprise to users of excel, this is only going to increase the quality and quantity of 3rd party interest and contributions to the ecosystem.

Microsoft Flow vision and roadmap

Speaker : Stephen Siciliano

Microsoft Flow is Microsoft’s workflow and business process management platform. It is the connective glue used by end-users and developers alike for digital transformation, no matter what application they are using.  There’s a growing buzz about using Flow and the common data service in conjunction with Power BI to automate data feeds for all manner of reporting requirements.  I can think of limitless applications for this tool, and I’m excited to learn more about where it is going.

PowerApps maker vision and roadmap

Speaker : Ryan Cunningham

Microsoft recently released the ability to embed PowerApps inside PowerBI reporting back in January.  You can also embed PowerBI reporting inside Powerapps themselves.  This extends the platform to include not just reporting, but full-featured applications to take action on the data.  There’s no need to keep the functions in separate silos any longer.  I’m thrilled to see where Microsoft is extending this vision to their customers.

Dynamics 365 Business Central roadmap and overview

Speaker : Errol Schoenfish

Dynamics 365 Business Central is designed for businesses looking for an all-in-one business management solution that’s easy to use and adapt. Connect your finances, sales, service, and operations to streamline business processes, improve customer interactions, and enable growth.  I’m intrigued to hear how Microsoft’s vision for Dynamics is developing, and how it converges with the other pieces of the Business Application platform.

Finally, the closing keynote is to be delivered by Malcom Gladwell.  Enough said, right there.   He’s scheduled to speak on how data and analytics can drive large-scale change, and how business intelligence can help you positively disrupt your org.  If that doesn’t sound like a big picture vision for the platform, I don’t know what does.  I’m really looking forward to finishing the summit on this keynote!

In short, Softcrylic are thrilled to be attending the Business Application Summit this year.  The convergence of Dynamics, Office 365, Power BI, Flow, and PowerApps into a cohesive stack seems to be the big picture for this event.  And we can’t wait to see the expanding possibilities in what I believe is rapidly becoming the most robust BI ecosystem available!

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Corey M. Turner

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Corey M. Turner

Corey leads the practice of Visual Analytics at Softcrylic helping clients with highly consumable, story-telling data visualizations using market leading platforms like Tableau and Microsoft Power BI. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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