Why Microsoft could become a force to reckon with in Machine Learning

Microsoft has gotten into a great course correction since Satya Nadella took over as the CEO. In its effort to transform itself into a platform company per the vision of the new CEO, Microsoft has been truly taking some critical steps in the Big Data analytics space.  Since the launch of its Azure Machine Learning platform, Microsoft has been quietly focussing on building the foundational blocks and consolidating the Azure MLs adoption.  It’s easy drag, drop and predict approach on a cloud based Machine Learning platform has won a solid following.  It has also been helping developers to jump start Machine Learning through its Microsoft Virtual Academy led courses such as :

Microsoft has also recently made a couple of rather significant acquisitions to bolster its case further.  It’s acquisition of Equivio, a Text Analysis / Machine Learning based eDiscovery / compliance vendor whose main product is Zoom, a court approved machine learning platform.  The deal is stated to be around $200 Million.  Microsoft is reportedly planning to utilize Equivio’s machine learning technology to further improve its Office 365’s eDiscovery and information governance capabilities.  It would help quickly search and find relevant information from the unstructured data present in documents.

Yet another recent acquisition had been Revolution Analytics – a commercial software and services provider for R, the world’s most widely used programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics.   It has also extended its support for open source communities by adopting Linux and also partnered with Hortonworks, a open source Hadoop distribution vendor to extend Big Data to the enterprise through its Azure HDInsight Big Data platform offering.  Microsoft had also open sourced its REEF to provide a big data analytics framework for YARN.

Microsoft is also facing off with IBM Watson through its ease of use Machine Learning approach.  It’s attacking IBM Watson’s biggest issue – the steep learning curve by providing an easy to use and adapt data model / APIs.  In its recent post, ZDNet reports that Microsoft’s goal for Azure Machine Learning is to develop data models that can be plugged directly into apps that will take that data, analyze and query it, and turn it into information that will be greater than the sum of its parts for a user.  Point in case its prebuilt data model for Microsoft Band which is its first fitness device.  The device monitored data is used for measuring, analyzing the health parameters.  It functions as a hub for data analysis of all the data collected through the device monitor.

Interesting times ahead for Microsoft since it seems to have placed its bets big on Analytics, Big Data, Cloud & Machine Learning in a big way.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms

Every time Gartner publishes the ‘Magic Quandarant for BI Platforms‘ there is lot of discussions, blogging, views, arguments etc. in the industry.  This time too it is no different from the earlier ones.

Surprisingly, for an industry which relishes on its intelligence superiority, the  ‘Visionaries’ quadrant is empty and the ‘Challengers’ quadrant has only two players – TIBCO Spotfire and Tableau!  Are we heading towards a single vendor monopoly kind of a situation or are there no worthwhile players to provide the vision and challenge the establish vendors?  Looks like all the start ups who were otherwise providing the vision and challenging the established ones have been either taken over or consumed by the bigger fishes.  Or is it that this is due to the way Gartner creates the Magic Quandrant?

Salient points in the current issue of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for BI Platforms are :

  • TCO and cost seems to have played an important role in having Microsoft getting positioned above the rest in the Leaders quadrant
  • For the first time, LogiXML and Jaspersoft has been added to the quadrant.  Is Gartner bowing to the pressures from the Open Source lobby to include low cost alternatives?
  • SAP is the lowest one on the ‘Leaders’ quadrant.  What’s gone wrong?  Are the acquisitions and its disruptiveness causing the issue?  But the market place still seems to have a great demand for Business Objects.
  • In-memory BI tool vendor, QlikTech moves upto the ‘Leaders’ quadrnat.  A worthy candidate and has had an excellent run in the market place of late.
  • Happy to see both Tableau & TIBCO Sportfire on the ‘Challengers’ quadrant.  Hope they are planning to see themselves at the Leaders quadrant next year.

Interesting thoughts and counter thoughts have started to flood the social media.  Some of them worth taking a view are :

If you are interested in understanding how Gartner evaluates the contestants.  Click on the link below :

Free download of the complete Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report is available at the SAS website.

Microsoft Joins the Data Visualization Bandwagon

Microsoft has joined the data visualization bandwagon by releasing the connector for its Silverlight suite that can help presenting the dynamic visual representation of huge data sets via web browsers. PivotViewer has been developed by Microsoft’s Live Labs.

Microsoft had earlier provided a preview of PivotViewer last November in its Professional Developer Conference and had showcased it again in the TechEd conference held last month.

The data visualization technology is expected to be more useful in the areas of Business Intelligence, website navigation and CMS. XML based data sets when placed in a web server can be accessed using a browser with Siverlight plug-in and viewer.

Interested? Try it out at this UK based wedding planning site – Hitched.