If concerns about having the right skillsets on staff are stopping you from trying big data, Microsoft’s BI tools may hold the key to busting down those barriers.

Microsoft at Strata Santa ClaraIt’s the second day of the O’Reilly Strata Conference and one common theme I expect to hear about is staffing and skillsets related to big data. Due to the industry hype around big data, a majority of business leaders believe they need employees with specialized experience to get the highest return from their big data investments. IDC recently found that 24% of organizations are concerned they lack employees with the right skillsets to do big data analytics and CIOs are overwhelmed by the amount of data their company manages.† While it is true that the industry needs more data scientists, it is equally true that most organizations are equipped with the employees they need today to help them gather the valuable insights from their data that will better their business.

According to the Gartner* Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms, the market for BI and analytics platforms will remain one of the fastest growing software markets.” And that, “although this is a mature market and has been a top CIO priority for years, there is still a lot of unmet demand. Every company has numerous subject areas — such as HR, marketing, social and so on — that have yet to even start with BI and analytics.”[1] That’s why Microsoft’s approach to business analytics is to make it accessible and easy for employees to analyze and extract meaningful results from big data, small data – really any data. Microsoft has long argued for the “democratization” of BI, where individuals are empowered to do their own data analysis using familiar tools and without IT assistance. To help our customers do that, we have been investing in making Excel a true self service BI client. With the general availability of Office 2013 today, Excel continues its journey to become a full featured BI client and we continue to invest in self-service BI by also releasing a preview of Data Explorer for Excel.

Data Explorer is an Excel add-in that enhances the self-service BI experience by simplifying data discovery and access. It also supports a broad range of data types including relational, structured and semi-structured, Odata, the Web, Hadoop, Windows Azure Marketplace, and more. In short Data Explorer helps connect customers with the data they need – try it out for yourself and download the Data Explorer Preview for Excel at: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/bi/Products/OfficePreview.aspx.

Be sure to check back here tomorrow morning as we bust our final big data myth in part 3 of this series or read part 1 where we bust our first big data myth. And if you’re attending Strata, be sure to stop by Server and Tools Business (STB) Technical Fellow Dave Campbell’s keynote tomorrow at 9:05AM PT.

Eron Kelly
General Manager
SQL Server

*Disclaimer: Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


†Source: IDC presentation Big Data: Exploiting the Opportunities That Exist NOW for ICT Vendors, December 11, 2012

[1] Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms, Kurt Schlegel et al, 5 February 2013