What is SharePoint 2010's Business Intelligence story? It's about bringing it all together.
Microsoft's power tool helps you gather, store, analyze, and provide access to data from across your business to help users make better business decisions. We have data stored locked away in every nook and cranny. E-mail, file shares, SharePoint lists, Access databases, Excel spreadsheets, CRM and ERP systems, not to mention custom databases and applications. It's overwhelming!
We need a way of understanding WHAT is there, and then we need tools to help us look at this set of data in a useful way. A business intelligence application summarizes your business critical operations - such as sales, purchasing, finance, information technology, and human resources. This information is then analyzed at multiple organizational levels - Executive, Accounting, Personnel, Engineering, Sales - by users of all types and roles. People have very different uses for this data - so we need to make sure the data is targeted. We also need to provide the RIGHT pieces of information to the RIGHT person at the RIGHT time.
Editor's Note: Steven gives a regular seminar on SharePoint 2010 Business Intelligence. Here is his presentation: SharePoint 2010 BI - Part and SharePoint 2010 BI - Part 2.
There are a lot of tools in SharePoint to help with this.
- Status Indicators - Let us quickly glance at an indicator and see if there are areas that need attention, than drill into it
- Chart Web Parts help us quickly visualize data
- PerformancePoint Services give us more detail analysis along with complex dashboards that relate all these pieces into larger picture
- Excel Services expose data from other locations, including data already in Excel
- SharePoint's Business Intelligence Search performs searches against the data
- Visio Services presents interactive Visio diagrams in the web browser
Let's take a closer look at some of these:
1. Chart and Key Performance Indicator Web Parts
These are simple web parts that can be dropped anywhere within SharePoint. They provide visualization of data within a SharePoint list or document library or from an outside data source such as a SQL server database. They are easy to use and configure, and include a stunning array of chart and display options (bar, pie, line, 3d ... the options are really quite good).
[caption id="attachment_873" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Key performance indicators (KPI) in SharePoint"]
[caption id="attachment_872" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Many varieties of SharePoint 2010 charts are available"]
2. Excel Services
Among other things, Excel Services provides a browser thin client for Excel. Users can upload Excel documents into SharePoint and then expose content in Excel Services web parts. This is especially useful for users who are 'Excel Masters' - they can construct useful reports, charts, graphs, and visualizations in Excel, save it to a SharePoint, and immediately share it to others within the web browser. The new Excel Web App allows browser-based interactions (including editing)!
[caption id="attachment_866" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Work with Excel spreadsheets within the browser"]
[caption id="attachment_867" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Users interact with Excel charts within the browser"]
3. PerformancePoint Services
SharePoint's new PerformancePoint features brings Business Intelligence to the average business user. This tool allows you to rapidly create data-driven dashboards. Viewers can navigate through the data and perform analysis - right from the web browser. For example, if you are responsible for sales and marketing at a manufacturing company, you might access a PerformancePoint dashboard showing sales by region. You might then right-click on a pie chart and drill into United States sales. Another click gets you into a specific state ... then a city ... then a store ... than a particular sales person. Check out some of the screen shots to see this in action!
PerformancePoint allows you to aggregate information from many locations, tie them together, and set up situations where you can quickly understand a summary of what is going on.
[caption id="attachment_865" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Build dashboards using PerformancePoint"]
[caption id="attachment_864" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Drill down to analyze the data behind the chart"]
[caption id="attachment_863" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The aptly-named Decomposition Tree helps you drill into data"]
4. Business Intelligence Search
BI search extends the power of SharePoint's search engine to business data. Excel Services and Reporting Services reports are now indexed by the search engine. Search results from deep within charts and reports are included. For example, a search for a "Left Handed Screwdriver model XJ-11 in Springfield" might return three reports, pre-filtered to sales reports from Ned Flanders' Leftorium in Springfield. The search results link directly to the specific view of interest to the searcher.
Microsoft has pulled out all the stops and has made SharePoint 2010 a Business Intelligence powerhouse. The most incredible part is the cost - if you own SharePoint 2010 Standard or Enterprise, these tools are waiting to be unlocked. Concurrency's team of SharePoint experts can help you make the most of your Business Intelligence platform.