What are the advantages and disadvantages of the MS-BI suite?

Business Intelligence (BI) is the catalyst that transforms raw data into valuable information, enabling organisations to uncover patterns, optimise operations, improve decision-making, and gain a competitive edge in a world increasingly data-driven world. 

No one can deny that MS-BI has quickly established itself as a major player. This suite of tools covers all BI activities, from data collection to ETL (extraction, transformation, loading), and reporting. 
This historic position is explained by its early entry into the BI market as a complete solution. Microsoft’s investments in BI tools such as SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS), SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), and SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) have laid the foundations for a complete BI solution. 

Why has it been so successful?

An important factor that contributed to this success story is the compatibility of the MS-BI suite with SQL Server, the third most widely used relational database in the world after Oracle and MySQL. 

 The success and popularity of SSIS and SSAS can vary depending on several factors, such as specific use cases, industry requirements, and evolving technological trends. 

  •  SSIS rapidly established itself as a leader in ETL. 
  • SSAS, on the other hand, has been very successful in multidimensional and tabular data analysis, offering users advanced features for creating OLAP cubes, dimensions, and measures. 

Conversely, some believe that SSRS has failed in this suite due to its complexity and lack of clarity, especially in comparison to Power BI, which is considered the perfect reporting tool to complete the suite. 

So why are we seeing a decline in MS-BI's presence on the market?

Several reasons can explain this drop. In my opinion, the main reason remains changing trends: The BI landscape is evolving rapidly with the emergence of new technologies and approaches. Companies often seek more agile, self-service-oriented, and cloud-based solutions.  

But that’s not the case everywhere! Before arriving in Switzerland in January 2023, I thought that MS-BI was living out its final years in the BI market, but I was surprised to see how widespread this technology is still being used. Many multinational companies, financial institutions, and organisations with complex data integration and reporting needs continue to prefer MS-BI for its robust features. Moreover, a large number of Swiss companies place great importance on confidentiality and trust in their business operations, which leads them to prioritise on-premise solutions that allow them to retain complete control over their systems and data. 

All in all, the MS-BI suite remains a major player in the BI market in various countries, and continues to make commercial progress despite the presence of new, more intuitive, and low-code players. 

So should CDOs and BI managers continue to use the MS-BI suite, or is it time to converge towards cloud solutions with more self-BI?

The decision to trust the MS-BI suite or converge towards cloud solutions with more self-BI will depend on each organisation’s specific needs and technology strategy. 
Factors such as scalability, flexibility, cost, team skills, and the organisation’s technological ecosystem must all be taken into account. 

 In conclusion, I believe that the MS-BI suite remains a solid player in BI and that won’t change for some time to come. Its historical position, Microsoft’s support, and the trust placed by many companies make MS-BI, combined with Power BI, a comprehensive set of BI tools that combine robustness and user-friendliness to meet market needs. 

However, it is essential to remain open to adopting low-code and self-BI solutions such as Tableau, Dataiku, and Alteryx, which now hold a leading position in the BI market. 

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