Who will buy PerformancePoint?

An interesting article published by Stephen Swoyer on the TDWI website suggests that PerformancePoint might not appeal to the audience that MS intends it to and it’s biggest competitor will be itself in the form of Office, Excel and the existing MS BI stack.  It’s a little sensationalist and not particularly well researched (no mention of planning or ProClarity!) but it did get me thinking about who actually will buy the product and what they will do with it.

The article suggests that the price tag will put off small to medium businesses and indeed if it were only a reporting product (as the article seems to suggest) the price tag may be a little high – though hardly out of the league of other third party reporting products on the market.  In my opinion it is the unmentioned planning component that will be one of the main selling points for those small to medium businesses that the article suggests will be put off by the price tag;  The ones who currently plan and forecast using a monstrous spreadsheets and outrageous pivot tables. You know the ones – where some clever accountant has re-written a relational db engine using most of the Excel functions 😉

Edit:  As my colleague Sacha has just reminded me, you also have to take into consideration that the planning component requires the writeback functionality of SQL Enterprise Edition which of course adds a fairly hefty chunk to the price tag.  However I still feel that the pricing for a fully fledged BPM suite is very competitive.

Once you throw the ProClarity functionality and Sharepoint integration into the mix as well then the costs become really hard to argue against even if you’re not going to use all the components.  In reality I think that most of the potential clients will already favour MS and are likely to have some element of the BI stack in place already.  However as Chris Webb suggests, the concept of a business user being able to carry out most of the tasks required to put a PerformancePoint implementation live may be a little unrealistic.  I think us techies may not be out of a job just yet!

What the article does get across is that PerformancePoint isn’t really very well understood yet by those who have actually heard of it.  September release dates are still being bandied around and it seems MS has some work to do .  Of course, as with most major MS products, the take-up on version 1.0 is not likely to be huge but the marketing department needs to get started now to be ready for V2.0 (or maybe V1 SP1!)