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Simran Jindal's Blog

Sharepoint BI (aka SharePoint Insights)–What does it really mean?

Feb 14 2012 12:00AM by simranjindal   

SharePoint is undoubtedly a very established product for corporate intranets/extranets and for some internet sites as well. It is a great collaborative platform for information management (both structured and unstructured) and tight integration with Windows security (active directory/kereberos). SharePoint 2010 has been getting a lot of attention due to its BI (Business Intelligence) features. There are a lot of companies out there which are evaluating SharePoint 2010 for nothing but it’s BI capabilities. It is nearly two years since SharePoint 2010 was launched and the most common question that is being asked by almost every customer is “What does SharePoint BI include? What does SharePoint BI really mean?” I am not at all surprised because if one is not familiar with the product it is not easy to understand the product’s offerings, especially when the offerings are marketed as “SharePoint Insights” but the customers understand “SharePoint BI”. My objective with this post is to give a clear understanding of what is it that the customers get as part of SharePoint Insights (aka SharePoint BI).

Before we look into details, the most important thing to understand is that SharePoint Insights (as marketed by Microsoft) and SharePoint BI are used interchangeably and mean the same thing.

SharePoint Server 2010 Insights includes the following features:

PowerPivot for Excel and SharePoint
In real world Excel is where BI begins. PowerPivot for Excel is an extension to Excel that adds support for large-scale data. It has an in-memory engine that allows users to interactively explore and perform calculations on large data sets. It provides the capability of merging multiple data sources including corporate databases, worksheets, reports, and data feeds. The complete PowerPivot worksheet can be published to SharePoint Server 2010.

Use PowerPivot for Excel when you want to quickly manipulate millions of rows of data into a
single Excel workbook for ad-hoc reports.

Excel 2010 Dashboard using PowerPivot

Excel Services
Excel Services is a Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 shared service that brings the power of Excel
to SharePoint Server by providing server-side calculation and browser-based rendering of Excel

Excel Services can be used for:

  • Real-time, interactive reporting to include parameterized what-if analysis.
  • Distribution of all or part of a workbook for analysis by using SharePoint Server or the Office
    client applications.
  • A platform for building business applications. For example, when an end user or analyst has generated a model that can be widely used (such as a car loan calculator)
  • When an end user or analyst wants to share content with multiple persons across an organization.

Excel 2010 workbook published to SharePoint 2010

Performance Point Services

PerformancePoint Services (aka PPS) in SharePoint Server 2010 is a performance management service with tools
to monitor and analyze business. It provides easy-to-use tools (Dashboard Designer) for building dashboards, scorecards, and key performance indicators (KPIs).

With PPS you can:

  • bring together data from multiple data sources (including Analysis Services, SQL Server,
    SharePoint lists and Excel Services) to track and monitor the data
  • Use the visualization Decomposition Tree which is a new report type that enables you to quickly and
    visually break down higher-level data values from a multi-dimensional data set to understand the
    driving forces behind those values. SharePoint 2010 Dashboard Designer

BI Dashboard using Dashboard Designer

SQL Server Reporting Services
SharePoint provides integration with Reporting Services, which means that a report created using SQL Server Reporting Services can be published on SharePoint inclduing the underlying data connections. You can build reports on top of SharePoint lists, publish reports to SharePoint Server 2007 or 2010, incorporate reports inside your portal using a reports Web Part, and fully manage your reports published in SharePoint document libraries. It is a great feature when you want to deliver reports that publish at regular intervals and on-demand for users who are not familiar with the underlying data.

SQL Server Reporting Services Report Published in SharePoint

Visio Services
Visio Service is a new service on the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 platform that allows users
to share and view Visio diagrams. The service also enables data-driven Microsoft Visio 2010 web
drawings, VDW files, to be refreshed from a variety of external data sources.

Visio 2010 and Visio Services let you connect diagrams to data from multiple data sources
(including Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, SQL Server, and SharePoint Foundation List),
publish data-driven diagrams to Visio Services on SharePoint Server, and view and refresh datadriven
diagrams in a browser.

Use Visio Services to build a visual representation of your business structures that are bound to data. For example, healthcare metrics on a hospital floor, retail metrics on a store layout, network health status on
an IT network, organizational chart with metrics for each individual.

Databound Visio 2010 diagram published in SharePoint 2010

Reference Posts:

Introducing Visio Services

SharePoint 2010 Visio Services

BI Center Site Template

When a new BI site is created, you are provided with a site template, which is a great starting point for BI portals.

SharePoint 2010 BI Site Template

BI Web Parts
The BI tool set further includes BI web parts for better visualization. These web parts provide quick summary of data and can access data from multiple data sources.

SharePoint 2010 Chart WebPart

In the next post we will look at how SharePoint Server 2010 Insights and Power View, SQL Server 2012's new data visualization technology, work together.

Republished from Simran Jindal's Blog [4 clicks].  Read the original version here [2 clicks].

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