>PPS reshuffle

>(Originally posted 28 January 2009).

PPS has been reshuffled (http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2009/01/23/microsoft-business-intelligence-strategy-update-and-sharepoint.aspx). PPS has been a successful MSFT technology. It has taken MSFT from a standing start to a player in the competitive PM market, to the point where Gartner’s last Magic Quadrant for PM showed MSFT in the Visionary category. As with Content Management Server previously, MSFT will consolidate PPS Monitoring and Analytics into their flagship platform MOSS from mid 2009. PPS Planning will be withdrawn. The core MSFT BI stack remains unchanged.

Most customers will actually benefit from this development. Customers that want PPS Monitoring and Analytics (the bulk of those that have any interest in PPS) should see a reduction in licensing costs: a MOSS Enterprise CAL is cheaper than a PPS CAL. Many customers will already own it.

Why did this happen though?

The target market for PPS Planning (in its current form) is saturated. Most organizations that need end-to-end PM already have solutions. MSFT had only a modest share of the PM application market. SAP, IBM and Oracle between them took around half. The market was also fragmented at the SME end with around half again being smaller vendors often based upon the MSFT BI stack e.g. Calumo.

Customers in newer PM sectors e.g. Insurance/Legal and the SME market were gradually beginning to adopt PPS Planning; but working with PPS models was arguably more of a technical activity than they were used to. PPS Planning lacked web-based data entry. The Excel add-in could be slow when connecting to PPS from Excel or publishing drafts. PPS was well served with complex financial consolidation options but this is a niche activity (MSFT make revenue from CAL licenses after all). MSFT needed to democratize the PM market but this needed associated change in business practice with planning activities becoming both decentralized and collaborative. It was unlike the other products in the MSFT BI suite and ultimately did not drive forward the core MSFT proposition of “BI for the masses” (http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2009/jan09/01-27KurtDelbeneQA.mspx).

Finally, there’s maybe an alliance angle. MSFT jointly launched Duet with SAP, allowing easy interaction with SAP and MSFT Office environments (esp. Excel and Outlook). There could possibly be a strategic direction here to add financial planning and consolidation to a future release of Duet (or some future combination of Duet, Gemini and/or Dynamics). This would tightly integrate MSFT and SAP at a PM level. What would be in this for SAP is immediately unclear given their acquisition of OutlookSoft (and incorporation into their own product suite as SAP Business Planning & Consolidation [BPC]) but there has been a significant rise in the last year of existing SAP customers wanting to bolt-on PPS/SSRS onto their SAP deployments; basically because it is difficult for in-house resources to extract the data from SAP and present it themselves or because quotes from SIs are routinely in the tens of thousands of dollars per report. Partnering with MSFT here and using PPS Monitoring and Analytics from within MOSS may improve SAP client satisfaction around data access. MSFT would similarly benefit from increased enterprise access.

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