2012 Channel Champions: Business Intelligence Software

Microsoft was tops in this year's Business Intelligence Software category, besting competitors SAP, IBM and Oracle. But Microsoft's margin of victory this year was much narrower than in 2011.

The company has been steadily gaining market traction with its business intelligence offerings, including such BI tools as PowerPivot in its Excel spreadsheet, PerformancePoint in SharePoint Server, and the ReportingServices and Analysis Services to the SQL Server database.

Microsoft outscored its rivals in overall technical satisfaction, including such criteria as product configurability or customization tools. That doesn't surprise Mike Burger, Microsoft senior solutions architect at Perficient, a St. Louis-based Microsoft partner.

"We really use the entire Microsoft BI stack to tailor our solutions for our clients' specific needs," he said. "SharePoint integration and the BI semantic model in the upcoming SQL Server 2012 "have really enhanced [the technology's] ability to deliver business intelligence across a spectrum of users."

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Microsoft expects its momentum to continue this year with a new Apache Hadoop-based service for the Windows Azure cloud platform that customers can use to pull "big data" from multiple sources and build predictive analytics applications, said Michael Kiselman, senior product marketing manager.

Microsoft also outscored competitors for overall support satisfaction and in financial factors--sweeping all criteria in the latter, in fact. "The price point is one of the key selling factors we always bring up with clients," said Burger.

Burger also praised Microsoft's partner training and support, including the multiday SQL Server 2012 "ranger training." "What's great about that is it gives partners some lead time to work with the new technology," he said. Microsoft also helps Perficient cover the costs of developing proof-of-concept systems. "It's a fantastic way for us to get our foot in the door and make the customer not only comfortable with the technology, but working with us as well."