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Mitch Irsfeld

TechNet Flash, Volume 12, Issue 23 - November 17, 2010
TechNet Flash Editor's Note from Mitch Irsfeld

Be an Instant Hero with Better BI

The hard work of integrating the data and the tools used to deploy a pervasive and trusted enterprise business intelligence solution can make you an instant hero to business colleagues. As Joshua Hoffman points out in his TechNet Magazine article, " Empower Your Users with Business Intelligence," supporting your organization's BI initiatives starts with the right data structure, and SQL Server 2008 provides that foundation by housing the data used for analysis.

To be effective, the database component of a BI solution should let you spend your time analyzing the data, not tracking down the data. SQL Server 2008 R2 provides a rich set of services including integration, analysis, and reporting services.

But SQL Server is only the first step.

Next, you must make it easy to extract, visualize, and share the information, and Microsoft makes it easy to integrate familiar tools such as SharePoint, PowerPivot and Excel, and even let your users build their own dashboards and scorecards.

If you are looking to start integrating the components of a BI solution, TechNet Magazine's Planning Your First Microsoft BI Solution provides insight into the process. Then get your feet wet with Building a Data Foundation for a BI Solution, which shows you how to use SQL Server 2008 Integration Services (SSIS) to perform the extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes for your BI system.

Beyond these critical foundational issues, a BI solution needs to do more than access data; it must also support specific decision-making efforts.

The Self-Serve Model

An increasingly popular way to support decision makers is to let them create their own reports, dashboards, and models with easy-to-use tools. Called "self-service BI," this approach lets users access a SQL Server 2008-based enterprise data warehouse and use SharePoint 2010 and PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel to analyze and share the information.

To find out how Microsoft enables self-service BI, we’ve included a recent video on TechNet Edge, Enabling Self-Service BI from EDW Using SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2. You can then dive deeper with a free lesson from Microsoft Learning, Implementing Self-Service BI with PowerPivot for Excel 2010.

Speaking of PowerPivot, if you’re looking to build a self-service BI solution, this fundamental component of self-service analyticsgives your users the power to drill into very specific aspects of their business. We’ve lined up several great resources on PowerPivot technology, starting with the virtual lab Exploring PowerPivot for SharePoint and the TechNet Edge video SharePoint and Office 2010 - Part II - An Inside Look at PivotTables and SharePoint BI Integration. check out the TechNet Library article Microsoft SQL Server PowerPivot Planning and Deployment, too.

Finally, if you are looking to deploy aspects of BI as a service, PerformancePoint is now included with SharePoint 2010, and enables you offer PerformancePoint as a set of services with key performance indicators, scorecards, analytics, reports, dashboards, and more, surfaced as a Web Part page. For more on how that works, read Business Intelligence (BI) with PerformancePoint in SharePoint 2010.

You may start small with your BI project, but know that once your users start using it and word gets out, demand will grow, along with requests for more functionality. Plan for scalability.

Thanks for reading,

Mitch Irsfeld
Editor, TechNet Flash

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