The upcoming release of Microsoft Office 2010, according to Microsoft Gold certified partner, IS Partners, further exemplifies Microsoft’s investment in Business Intelligence (BI). IS Partners has from early on played an active role in the Microsoft technology adopter programme (TAP) for Office 2010.
David Ives, director at IS Partners, says BI is becoming more entrenched in everyday operations across the organisation, and Office 2010 will make BI even more accessible to multiple profiles of users.
“BI is becoming more visible across organisations, and Office 2010 provides an opportunity to implement best practice BI standards and enhance the user experience,” he says. The new Office can also reduce the total cost of ownership for BI software, as tools are now available out of the box.
Microsoft’s intention has been to make Office the BI front-end of choice. It is also the way in which Microsoft envisages that end-users will interact with their BI information.
Ives says that there have been two primary areas of focus for Office 2010. The first was to ensure that the previous Performance Point technology now forms an integral part of SharePoint. “This offers a number of benefits, including collaborative capabilities for BI as well as dashboards that allow for further data analysis if needed.”
Previously part of ProClarity, Decomposition Tree is now also a component within SharePoint. “This allows you to identify root causes from high-level metrics to, for example, look at GP by sales person, product or area, and uncover the ‘why’s’,” Ives says.
A further area of development in SharePoint has been to ensure that Excel Services has the same feel and interactive capabilities that users have come to know from their traditional Excel client. “Spreadsheets look, feel and work the same. The ability for the end user to uncover BI insights and publish these to SharePoint for collaboration and interaction with other users has been enhanced.”
In terms of client tools, Microsoft has invested in native Excel and Slices, a feature of Excel and Micro Charts, making the interaction with BI information more intuitive. It is now easier to find exactly what you are looking for in your data, Ives adds.
A noteworthy development has been Microsoft’s introduction of PowerPivot, the company’s first product release for in-memory BI. Ives says that the technology empowers analysts and end users to create their own BI environment. It is now possible for organisations to have structured BI as an IT managed service as well as ad-hoc BI, where business users are able to construct their own BI environment.
“These users may wish to slice, dice and analyse their data, but do not interact with their information in the same way as typically needed in a structured corporate BI solution. These BI environments can, ultimately, become managed services and be aligned to good BI principles,” he says.
“Office 2010 is providing greater collaborative capabilities and BI centricity. Users are now more able than before to take control of their BI requirements and cost-effectively use a variety of tools to manipulate and share information through a rich visual experience.”