I’ve just seen a copy of the PerformancePoint announcement, and it makes interesting reading. Peter Koller’s blog entry that I pointed to in my previous post has all the main points and a very good analysis, but there are some other things I’d like to pick up on…
First of all, a classic bit of PR "let’s put a positive spin on this":
These changes enable customers to deploy a complete BI solution with existing investments in SharePoint Server, SQL Server, and Excel, the most widely used analysis and planning tool in market today.
LOL, after all that time spent telling us we should move away from Excel hell we now find that the death of PerformancePoint Planning means we’re now free to go back to Excel!
Performance management is a critical component of business intelligence and Microsoft will continue marketing and R&D investment in this area in future product releases.
How you interpret this depends on what ‘performance management’ means. Some people have speculated that MS are planning to acquire a replacement for PPS Planning but I doubt this. As I said yesterday, could Gemini be somehow used as a planning tool? Gemini would certainly help make doing planning in Excel faster but you really need a dedicated app to manage the planning process properly surely? I think MS are simply abandoning this space.
The core ProClarity capabilities that made that product successful will migrate to SharePoint and Excel over the coming releases. As for Business Scorecard Manager and ProClarity Desktop Pro, we don’t anticipate any further customer demand for this.
Everyone had already guessed that Microsoft’s BI fat-client consisted solely of Excel, but this confirms it. Personally I think they’re wrong in thinking that there’s no customer demand for a tool like Proclarity Desktop Pro – Excel 2007 is good but has some serious limitations as a high-end client for Analysis Services, and I doubt the next version of Excel will do everything power users want either (and let’s face it it’s going to be years and years before most organisations even think about migrating to Excel 14!).
It would be good to have a clear statement of Microsoft’s future BI strategy now, if only so that partners can work out what they should and shouldn’t invest in. I’ve already talked about how the uncertainty caused by the Proclarity acquisition has actively damaged the third-party client tools market and in turn reduced choice for customers and made the MS BI platform less attractive. The same thing goes for planning: everyone in BI knows that this is a highly lucrative market to be in – if it wasn’t, MS wouldn’t have entered it in the first place. But PerformancePoint Planning killed off most of the ecosystem of planning and budgeting applications that used the MS BI platform, such as tools like Enterprise Reporting that MS had acquired, or Outlooksoft which sold itself to SAP (I assume the product still exists, but I’ve not heard much of it since). And now Planning itself is dead, what’s left? And what partner will want to bet on this area again?