Tailoring Your SharePoint Business Intelligence Experience

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Blog | Jun 26, 2015

Tailoring Your SharePoint Business Intelligence Experience


Now, with SharePoint 2013, we have an integrated suite of robust BI tools and functionality that rival many other out of the box solutions.  In addition to these great tools, Microsoft also offers a cloud solution known as Power BI, which integrates with SharePoint and Office 365.

Introduction

It’s hard to believe that SharePoint has been utilized as a business intelligence (BI) platform for almost a decade. First, with Microsoft Office SharePoint Services (MOSS) 2007, we were introduced to Excel Services. Next, in SharePoint 2010, PerformancePoint was included when purchasing an enterprise license. We also were able to take advantage of PowerPivot and Power View (PowerPivot has since been renamed “Power Pivot” by adding a space between the two words in the name of the application).

Now, with SharePoint 2013, we have an integrated suite of robust BI tools and functionality that rival many other out of the box solutions.  In addition to these great tools, Microsoft also offers a cloud solution known as Power BI, which integrates with SharePoint and Office 365.

So with all of the BI tools in the marketplace today, why should you consider SharePoint and the Microsoft BI Stack?

Reason 1 – Flexibility

Just about every organization is running SQL Server in one form or another. Many people in your organization already use Excel for BI purposes (even if they don’t realize it).

Most organizations already own the above referenced tools as part of their software agreements with Microsoft, but may not realize or understand the power behind these applications and platforms. Many people disparage SQL and SharePoint with statements such as, “We have SharePoint, but it’s not deployed very well and isn’t user friendly, so in our opinion, it doesn’t work” or “Yeah, we know we’ve got problems with SQL and SharePoint…but we just live with the problems…it’s easier that way”.

Such apathy doesn’t sound like a successful business strategy, especially when the tools you need are sitting right in front of you.  Just because the platform is not configured or deployed properly doesn’t mean that it can’t be corrected…you actually have to invest the time to resolve these issues and implement the solution that is right for your organization. People yearn for a system that is “flexible”…yet when presented with options, chose to “endure with what we have because we don’t have time to catch our breath and fix these things”.

Does this sound like your organization? Do these statements sound familiar?  If so, you’re not alone.

Here’s the good news, it is pretty straight forward to implement your BI vision using the tools already at your disposal.

Reason 2 – Complements Existing BI Systems and Data Sources

The Microsoft BI Stack utilizes many existing data sources and connectors such as:

  • SQL Server
  • SQL Server Analysis Services
  • Oracle
  • IBM DB2
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • Sybase
  • Teradata
  • SAP Business Objects BI Universe
  • Salesforce Objects
  • Salesforce Reports
  • OData Feed
  • Hadoop (HDFS)
  • Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft Azure (SQL, Marketplace, HDInsight, BLOB Storage, Table Storage)
  • Dynamics CRM
  • Facebook
  • Google Analytics
  • ODBC Query
  • File formats:  Excel, CSV, XML, Text

 

Reason 3 – Enterprise and Personal BI with a Familiar Interface

Since most people already know how to use Excel (even at a basic level), the investment for training and mentoring the self-service BI user community will be minimal.

Also, because most people in your organization are familiar with using a web browser, having SharePoint as your BI platform in conjunction with Power BI as the behind the scenes engine is a win-win for everyone.

Please view the below images for an example of the self-service BI functionality using SharePoint and Power BI (Excel Services and Power View/Power Pivot components).

sharepoint_BI

SharePoint Excel Services Interface

Sharepoint_B1_1

SharePoint Power View/Power BI Interface

Conclusion

SharePoint supports the business intelligence needs and requirements of today and utilizes many of the existing platforms and tools within your organization.

If you are on the fence regarding a massive business intelligence undertaking, SharePoint is a cost effective and efficient way to implement a tailored business intelligence solution.  Why pay for additional tools that may be underutilized?  If additional product cost and implementation is a key factor in your decision making, why not tailor the suite of products already within your purview?

If you’d like to learn more about SharePoint and the Microsoft BI Stack, click on the button below to talk with our experts.Book a Meeting