More thoughts on the death of PPS Planning

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?

17 thoughts on “More thoughts on the death of PPS Planning

  1. I guess Bill Baker saw this coming which is why he high-tailed it out of there!To be honest, reducing the number of BI touchpoints makes sense to me – shame it took them so long to realise it!Sharepoint for sharing, Excel for doing the work. Simple.

  2. yeah. I guess we\’ll never know.There\’s another question that always sits out there continually uanswered .. where does MDM (i.e. Stratature) fit in all of this?

  3. Haven;t spoken to those guys in a long while – they\’ve been silent for most of 2008. Last I heard they were going to release with Office 14, integrated wholly into Sharepoint. The fact that it never gets mentioned in regard to strategic BI thinking coming out of Microsoft is worrying tho.

  4. Microsoft has lost its way in the BI world and is going to find itself becoming irrelevant very quickly. They tried to freeze the market with the Proclarity acquisition, but still haven\’t got a feasible vision. We are a Proclarity shop. We\’re moving our dashboard and I guess now we\’ll be looking for a new OLAP analysis tool. Gemini is *not* it, neither is Excel. I might find it useful for analysts in my own (BI) department, but not for the users at large. And even there, Tableau is looking pretty good right now. And for a post 5 year outlook, Open Source is hard to beat. Maybe it\’s time to leave SSAS before there are no tools left.

  5. I am disappointed. Instead of buying a PP M & A book of 100-200 pages I will have to buy a MOSS 2010 unleashed book with at least 1000 pages. to get these 200 pages, that they will probably reduce to 75 pages because workflows and site configuration is much more important. I am afraid that simple and good enough BI-client/publishing solutions will go down the black hole of intranet management, content managment and document managment that Sharepoint/MOSS is all about.

  6. The changes in the MSFT BI strategy are much bigger than the way they are described in the releases today:- MSFT has fired all BI sales people. this means that BI is not just a bunch of features in SPS that will be sold that way.- MSFT is killing Proclarity as a power tool for BI meaning their strategy is to go with "good enough" / Basic functionality. – While this might be a good way to get many users this will NOT replace the need to put a pure-play BI tool. – Microsoft is moving away from competing on the BI front and just trying to add more value to Office (which is what all companies are doing right now – back to the core products) Read more about our view on this move here:

  7. Microsoft already has a very good planning and consolidation tool called Microsoft Enterprise Reporting. This product was taken off the MS pricelist as PPS got on the market. It will now find its revival… Microsoft Enterprise Reporting Strategy AnnouncementMicrosoft announced today a change in our Business Intelligence strategy. Microsoft is moving the dashboarding and analytic functionality in Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server to SharePoint Server. PerformancePoint Server, Service Pack 3 will contain the final budgeting and planning functionality additions. Planning and budgeting products including FRx, Forecaster, Management Reporter, and Enterprise Reporting will be the responsibility of the Dynamics product division. As a result, Microsoft® Enterprise Reporting discontinuation plans are being changed. It will be placed on the Microsoft Dynamics GP price list for new sales in February 2009. Support discontinuation dates previously communicated are no longer valid.Microsoft Dynamics is committed to provided strong planning and budgeting solutions and are currently assessing all products to determine the best strategy. Microsoft Dynamics GP will deliver a detailed product roadmap for Enterprise Reporting in March 2009.Here is a link to the product:

  8. Not all…. but many!A step I expected. Like no other Microsoft promoted BI for the mass. Whereas SharePoint is tremendously successful, Microsoft PerformancePoint never reached the BI for the masses stage. Not all organizations who license MOSS throw their non Microsoft BI solution overboard tomorrow, but I do believe that many will consider to replace existing solutions overtime with PerformancePoint. At the same time I think there will be a huge boost in favor of Microsoft for new, to be developed solutions.The upsideMaking PerformancePoint available with MOSS means that Microsoft’s BI platform comes in the hands of 30 to 40 million people (the estimated number of licenses in the market for Enterprise SharePoint) for free! This means a tremendous boost and more organizations than ever before will make a decision to use Microsoft for their BI implementation without evaluating other competitive solutions. Why would you pay for an alternative solution where you can use the Microsoft platform now for free (at least for organizations who licensed SharePoint)? The downturn is that companies, who do not have MOSS, now have to buy it if they want to use Microsoft for their BI solutions.The downsideDiscontinuing the Desktop client seem to be a very bad idea according to many of the Microsoft BI partners we talked to over the last few days. Although Microsoft always intended there should not be any “fat” client other than Excel, 10.000’s of users of the ProClarity Desktop will disagree. The change for Planning was less expected. To build and deliver good CapEx, OpEx or HR planning solutions, the need for a middle tier, importing data from multiple general ledger systems and allowing fast and reliable write back is a must. An unclear strategy will drive Microsoft customers and many prospects in the hands of competitors who do deliver and support Planning solutions.It will be interesting to see how the market reacts on this news. Many end-user organizations and their Microsoft partners have invested a lot to promote, evaluate and implement planning solutions based on PerformancePoint. If you decided over the last year to invest in Microsoft Planning and now you hear there is no future development effort, I believe many organizations who did invest will reconsider their options. Planning is an essential part of CPM/BPM. I don’t think an Enterprise customer can easily be convinced Dynamics GP is the solution for the future. Some companies like Orange Peel Corp. invested (made a gamble..?) Planning would be the next big thing. Microsoft today killed that dream. I am sure if a company like OPC would be able to attract $1 to $2M funding, they can become one of the leaders in Microsoft based planning solutions for the enterprise….. who knows? Discontinuing an essential part of the analytics stack and the complete planning solution does not help Microsoft to become a leader in Enterprise Performance Management. A missed opportunity!

  9. HiI\’m really dissapointed about news about MSFT roadmap on BI products, because even knowing that enterprise reporting and analytics can be an important piece of the colaboration enterprise portal, they are not really the same.It\’s good that enteprise reporting and analytics may be integrated in Sharepoint portals, but the inverse way is not allways true. I agree that actual MOSS users will benefit from new integrated PPS and Proclarity functionallity, but there exists many (and many) customers that has not got MOSS and this change will mean an overhead of (usefull?) investment.Besides, there is a big uncovered gap that neither Report Builder 2.0 or Excel 2007 or even Proclarity web standard can fill and it seems future BI product consolidation will not either. And I\’m talking specially about thin client report authoring and business definitions sharing such as common calculated measures or sets.It\’s very difficult for us to build POCs with MSFT products when customer don\’t want to use Excel, or any other fat client for letting end user to build their own reports, specially in those scenarios where Business Objects is competing too, offering a fully functional thin client authoring tools.Several times I had to face customers that wanted to erradicate Excel as main reporting tools (specially for financial users), because they had very much costs when validating data once joined.Generally the same client wants the BI platform to let user share their own calculations, such as Proclarity is used to do. I don\’t know if MOSS will inherate this feature.I agree that Proclarity was killed the same day it was acquired, mainly because MSFT never let us know a clear product roadmap, and at the same time no other existing tool have integrated really some excellent Proclarity features.

  10. I am also really dissapointed by this. I really think that Microsoft has lost its way in BI. ProClarity is a best of breed product and I was very pleased when MS bought it thinking it would be moved on to new heights instead we get a confused jumbled product in PerformancePoint and an abandonment after a couple of years. This is great news for independent BI software vendors who will benefit from MS dropping the BI ball.

  11. You must be kidding. Bill Baker was literally the Thanatos for PerformancePoint (Thanatos is the greek god of death). First, as Thanatos, he was often cited, but never seen. Anybody that ever saw Bill Baker working and can present proof please stand up! Second: he surrounded himself with a bunch of suckers (let\’s see: a new GPM who would just repeat what Bill Baker just said, a new release manager who was know as "the clown" in SQL and was about to be fired, a new guy who did nothing for 2 years other than think about creating a team for metadata, who has done nothing for the last 2 years, for a total of 4 years doing nothing, etc.). Finally, Bill Baker decided to buy a company from old friends and went around justifying his absence from work saying that he was doing "due diligence for the acquisition. As a GM, he could never have produced sentences like: "I"m doing diligence for this acquisition as never done before in this company!". Wow! Looks like he put the previous acquisitions all under suspicion. Now: what due diligence will be done regarding the ProClarity acquisition? Will Microsoft fire all the morons involved?

  12. We were "at the altar" ready to buy the whole PPS package. Now we\’re left reevaluating pricier solutions like Hyperion, and also looking at MS\’ mothballed solution, which now back on the price sheet, Enterprise Reporting.

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