The Forrester Augmented BI-Platforms Report: How Microsoft’s Power BI Got The Top Spot

The recent Forrester report investigated the 15 major providers of augmented business intelligence (BI) platforms. The providers were evaluated against 15 criteria which can be grouped into three high-level categories; Current Offering, Strategy and, Market presence. Forrester identified Microsoft’s Power BI as the market-leading Artificial Intelligence-infused BI platform, where Oracle Analytics Cloud and, Sisense followed. This article will summarise the report’s findings and the criteria which informed the report, as well as provide an explanation as to why Microsoft’s Power BI came out on top.

Forrester are one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world. Working with leading companies to provide insight and strategies on becoming consumer-obsessed. Forrester’s philosophy on how companies should operate involves, bringing a business’s consumers to the forefront of its strategy, leadership, and operations. Forrester’s main activities consist of market research, consulting, and engaging in public events.


Criteria That Informed The Report:

15 criteria were used to evaluate the report’s findings, they can be grouped into three high-level categories:

  • Current Offering: Based on core and augmented BI capabilities, architecture, DevOps and enterprise features i.e. governance and collaboration capabilities.
  • Strategy: Based on the strength of each vendor’s strategy, informed on execution, performance, planned enhancements, innovation, and partnership ecosystem.
  • Market Presence: Based on the revenue from the augmented BI product licenses and subscriptions.


What Should An Augmented BI Provider Prioritise:

Due to major advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Augmented BI platforms have to incorporate features that go beyond reporting, querying, data visualizations, and basic descriptive and diagnostic analytics.

As a result, Forrester found that customers of Augmented BI platforms should look for providers that invest in:

Machine Learning for Deeper Insights and Conversational UI for Broader Access

  • Two-thirds of data and analytics decision-makers reported that their organization was actively recruiting talent with advanced data and analysis skills. Professional data scientists are scarce and expensive, so Augmented BI platforms that offer ML and conversational UI (to empower business insight professionals to become citizen data scientists as well as offer natural language query (NLQ) or natural language generation (NLG) to make it easier for users to understand the platform) are prioritized.

Core Enterprise BI to Strengthen the Insights-Driven Foundation

  • AI-infused BI remains a relatively new capability and remains somewhat untested for success – over a third of the customers of vendors stated they had not used the AI functionalities and those who did report a lower level of satisfaction than the platform’s other capabilities. Therefore, platforms need to offer core enterprise capabilities (i.e. reports and dashboards with interactive slicing/dicing capabilities to perform descriptive and diagnostic analysis).

The Operations Part of DevOps to Scale Augmented BI Applications Across the Enterprise

  • AI-infused BI platforms must cater to and support the needs of DevOps, as they are required when you need to scale out BI applications across your business or organisation. Whilst being ‘business-user-focused’ remains important, catering to the needs of DevOps is core to remain competitive within the AI-BI platform space.


Leader From the Report:

Microsoft Power BI:

Taking the top spot is Microsoft’s Power BI, both in the strategy and current offering categories.

Forrester identified Power BI as a clear choice for businesses that utilise Azure and/or O365 products for their business’s productivity, and even businesses that don’t, noting that “it is hard not to consider Power BI as your top choice for an enterprise BI platform”.

In terms of Power BI’s capabilities, the platform features 32 out-of-the-box (OOTB) ML models for business users, guided ML (Azure AutoML) for citizen data scientists, and integration with Jupyter notebooks for data science pros. In terms of the platform’s unique features, its ‘Data Prep By Example’ functionality – ingesting non-row-/column-based data sets as part of its AI data preparation function (Power Query), and graph analytics (Forced Directed Graph) – was noted as a rarity among the traditional SQL-/OLAP-based BI platforms.

Out of the 15 vendors, Microsoft Power BI has the most core enterprise functionality, including enterprise reporting (modern version of SQLServer Reporting Services (SSRS)) as well as robust Q&A features. Microsoft Power BI is a fantastic AI-infused BI tool for businesses of all sizes. Being a part of the Microsoft brand, it can be integrated with the suite of Microsoft’s other business tools such as O365, Azure, the SQL Server, and Excel, a distinctive capability that other providers do not offer.

In addition to the Forrester report, Gartner, another world-leading research and advisory company, also identified Power BI as the leading platform for the 14th consecutive year in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms report. In particular, Gartner identified the strengths of the platform in terms of its alignment to O365 and teams, the Price/Power combination, and the Scope of the ambition of the product.