Last year at the User’s Conference closing keynote in our futures section we announced Project Rubik. Rubik was an end-user oriented tool to create reports and models using the PI System and SQL Server BI easily with little configuration. When we finished prototyping and gathering customer feedback we took the time to make sure we were still headed in the right direction and we learned some things. One of those things is that we were building the wrong product so we have cancelled Project Rubik.
Several themes have emerged or intensified since we started working on Rubik. Mobile devices continue to increase in importance and the PI Systems lacks a good reporting experience suited for mobile use. BI and Big Data are evolving and expanding instead of converging. Enterprise reporting use to be just putting the data into a fast and scalable data warehouse engine and perhaps wrapping around an OLAP engine for speed. Reporting and analytics now encompasses a much wider range of diverse data sources and end user experiences. You may have heard about streaming data, unstructured data, map-reduce, No SQL, or Hadoop. While the specifics of each of these may be unclear to you, the importance of them collectively is that we now have technology available to analyze and understand a much wider variety of data sources at a much larger scale than before. It is no longer enough to get only one system’s data into a fast reporting engine.
So what do we do? Surprisingly or not surprisingly we are refocusing our efforts around Microsoft Excel and aligning our strategy there. Excel continues to be the best place to aggregate and analyze diverse data sets from a variety of sources that is universally understandable and universally deployed. One strength of the PI System is that individuals can get value out of the system with very little if any training in a short period of time. This is Microsoft’s message and vision around self-service BI and Excel – empowering individuals to do new things with familiar tools.
Our vision is to release technology built upon the Office App (formerly Agave) model which focuses on bringing PI System data to the entire Excel ecosystem from desktop, to Office 365, to SharePoint, to PowerPivot, to SQL Server and all platforms including desktop, browser, tablet, phone, and cloud. We will bring PI System data into native Excel formats such as tables or OData feeds so that our customers can leverage the unique capabilities of PI and Excel along with data from any other sources they choose that can get into Excel. The new Excel is exciting, it goes everywhere, and is backed up by the power of the cloud.
Effort is already underway and we will share more of our vision this year at vCampus Live. View our announcement from User's Conference 2013.