A sense of Wonder… reflecting on the #PowerBI amazing journey
August 26, 2016 Leave a comment
Few hours left in the day, been an amazing day for a lot of reasons… better late than never, they usually say right?
So… finally dumping a blog pots that formed on my mind going back several months (cof, years…) now… Anyway, today is even more relevant than then, so…
Warning: there won’t be fancy templates, crazy ideas, strange tools, insights, snippets or new downloads on this post. in fact it will be a completely useless post for anyone reading I guess, I just need to get it out. Don’t have a clear objective, or clear picture of what will come up. Also I won’t be slightly concerned if it’s too short, or too long, I won’t massively edit it (ok, slightly…). Fellow reader, I’m not writing for you today, I’m sorry.
So, how to start? How did we get here so fast? Seems only yesterday we were seeing this new Power BI Dashboards screenshots shown at WPC 2014. ~7-8 months after seeing Power BI GA then already a immensely powerful & stable Enterprise/Self-Service/even Personal BI platform, soon after that our first major project with the technology is online.
I’m not easily surprised, and yet time & time again I was completely baffled with what Power BI teams came up delivering, beyond user & community most requested features & needs, a lot others I honestly didn’t knew I was missing, and yet I can’t live without today.
Such an amazing journey… not in my wildest dreams, honestly I would say we would get here. And boy did we need it. Back in 2013-2014 remember we were getting very uncomfortable, mainly for the medium sized/enterprise BI scenarios, at least for any BI team that only works with Microsoft BI stack: powerful but completely stale OLAP engine, no clear roadmap, failed products ("Planning" anyone?) , acquisitions that ended up bringing no value in the long term, huge number of disparate tools with poor integration, pieces that didn’t fit properly together aside from very superficial demonstrations. (we deliver solutions we hope can add value, not fancy toys that work great in demos)
The nagging feeling that just selling the latest tools was more important the adding value. I’m still a big believer that revenue is a side effect from value we bring for customers. Add value, then capture some of it so you can add more value, repeat. You can make the other way work temporarily but it won’t be sustainable in the long term, and even if it were… that’s not the point right? That was the feeling honestly, yes, we had some great tools (heck PowerView on SilverLight was great for its time, we couldn’t have Power BI today without “project crescent” right? :) ), but still msbi kept lagging dangerously behind new vendors like Tableau, Qlick, etc in several key areas.
Something was missing, purely speculating here. Maybe that came finally with Nadella, also James Phillips strong vision, bringing the needed kind of startup mindset to Power BI vision (reminder, speculating here!).
Don’t have much visibility on Microsoft Power BI internal journey, for years know I’ve been inspired with the lean startup, customer development movement, mindset, and from the outside at least, seems a lean startup perfect case study. Hope one day some of that backstage story can be told, really.
A new or reinforced why- building a platform that could add immense value through the use of data, none of the typical limiting constraints, an inspiring vision, a fine tuned learning machine, powered by real feedback, real needs, really hearing customers & msbi –still- strong and devoted community. And, not less amazing, brilliant , flawless execution. Incrementally, steadily, the pieces simply kept fitting together perfectly. How can these teams have such agility without never slightly compromising a stable, robust, and coherent platform down the road. I don’t know. It shouldn’t be possible. Am I dreaming?
Mission, vision, execution, brilliantly orchestrated.
To the unsung heroes, the amazing minds than could plan, design, envision such a brilliant architecture where pieces keep fitting magically together release after release… To the teams than then gradually brought it to life. Here’s to you. Know a few, but it’s pretty clear it’s only the tip of the iceberg. :)
I remember that right about Power BI GA back in ~July 2015, I was reading “Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly” (truly inspiring book btw) and really felt I could be reading the story of Power BI there, the mindset, the why. Equally inspiring. heck. Even the book color reminded me of Power BI :)
From the book description…
”We don’t change the world by starting with our brilliant ideas, our dreams; we change the world by helping others to live their dreams. The story of ideas that fly is the story of the people who embrace them, love them, adopt them, care about them and share them. Successful ideas are the ones that become meaningful to others—helping them to see what’s possible for them.”
You see…? :)
Guess when you stop having customers and start having followers instead, amazing things are bound to happen.
Long post I, I warned right? Anyway, and also speaking of Azure, SQL Server, Microsoft new support for Open Source platforms, R, Hadoop, Spark, so many others, such a powerful data platform we now have in our hands. Huge responsibility for us, data professionals, to take all this and deliver on the promise of immensely valuable data.
Should not surprise many, that I feel we’re not there yet (far from it, never been the one easily pleased with only gorgeous dashboards, sorry!). I believe we’re still capturing a tiny potential of the value hidden in all this data. But those thoughts will have to wait for another day. (hope it won’t take another year anyway…)
Disclaimer: I don’t work for Microsoft, never have, although I work pretty much exclusively with Microsoft stack since I started my professional life, and also very sure, that I will stick with msft stack to the end of my work life. (that is, aside from my faithful Kindle and those precious things called moleskins )
So, anyone still reading should have this in consideration. I may be biased… slightly…
Better late than never, Happy Birthday Power BI! :)