New “Groups” feature introduced in Office 365 is an alternative to Yammer groups. Office 365 groups are tightly integrated with other Office 365 apps like Calendar, OneDrive and AD. Key features available in Office 365 groups are:
Groups in Left Navigation Bar and New Group screen:
Group Home Page:
It seems that Microsoft is gradually porting Yammer features to Office 365. Only other feature I would like to see in Office 365 is News Feed along with some gamifications apps. Then it won’t make sense for O365 users to log into Yammer at all. In my opinion, Yammer will not survive in its current form.
In fact, it is always difficult to push enterprise users to adopt to an external social networking application like Yammer. Integrating social networking capabilities right into mainstream productivity and business apps will help enterprises to exploit somewhat benefits of social networking capabilities.
Microsoft Power BI offering is going through another evolution. New tools and services, available only as preview, have introduced significant changes as compared to Microsoft’s current approach to providing self-service BI capabilities.
In this post, I will briefly talk about new tools/services and see how this will impact Microsoft BI community, both users and developers.
Power BI Dashboard
Power BI Dashboard is a cloud based service to create dashboards. You can create datasets, reports and dashboards using a web interface. It has capability to connect to lot of data sources including on-premise SSAS as well as couple of SAAS based applications like Salesforces.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM etc. This eliminates the need to install any tool on your desktop. All you need is web browser to access Power BI service.
Here is a screen shot of Power BI dashboard. It provides better experience for creating dashboard layout as compared to Excel. However it is not functionally rich at this stage.
Power BI Designer
Power BI Designer (PBID) decouples certain capabilities from Excel and offers them in a standalone tool. PBID combines the capabilities of Power Query and Power View along with some additional features for dashboards. Again, this eliminates the need for Excel as a desktop tool to explore data and create reports. However, currently PBID lacks certain features available in Excel.
Here is screen shot of Query View.
Here is screen shot of Power View.
Consultant’s Point of View
- Key point here is to decouple Power BI from Office so that customers who do not have latest version of Office and SharePoint can use Power BI. Of course, it offers some new features for dashboards.
- Deciding which tool to use in a given context is becoming even more difficult. Historically, Microsoft has been integrating BI capabilities in existing products (Office, SQL Server, SharePoint), however adoption has been challenging due to complexity of end to end technology stack. Now cloud and mobile further add to this complexity.
- Limited support to connect to on-premise data sources.
- PBID is being introduced with some of the capabilities available in Excel. Power Pivot data models, Power maps, some features from Power View are missing in PBID. Again, too many options creates confusion for everyone.
- Per user cost for Power BI is too much for lot of customers.