Power BI General Availability


Business Intelligence is an ever growing area and I think it will continue to grow for quite some time. Taking note of the data you have, analysing it and making decisions based on it is becoming more and more prevalent – think what Billy Beane has been doing at the A’s for years, what Bill James does with the Red Sox, look at how Opta stats have become such a huge thing within premier league football…all these are examples of business intelligence.

The old way:

The new way:

imageimage

I’m amazed at some of the things that are being done with Power Bi, especially combined with Excel 2013! The opportunity for organizations to become so much smarter with how and what they’re doing is huge – the fact that it’s cloud based so allows access from anywhere is a big deal, especially with the Windows 8 & RT apps AND HTML5 support.

It’s available now so pricing is in the pricefiles – to see some of the things you can do with Power BI, head over to:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/powerbi/default.aspx#fbid=rZ1xycdtZvO

Performance Point Server killed off?


Performance Point Server (PPS) has been part of the Microsoft product portfolio for a while now but, as far as I can tell, it hasn’t really made much of an impact. It’s been the top-end, full featured Business Intelligence (BI) product but the uptake hasn’t been amazing and MS announce there won’t be another standalone version of PPS, making Performance Point Server 2007 the last.

A lot of clients I work with who you would expect to jump on PPS have stayed away and they aren’t the only ones. The impression I get is that most people are unsure about Microsoft’s credentials in this part of the BI arena; they’re not sure that PPS will stack up against competitors such as SAP (Business Objects), Oracle (Hyperion) and IBM (Cognos) when it gets to the nitty gritty high end enterprise features. PPS isn’t cheap-coming in at around 17K-and when companies invest at that kind of level, they need to be completely confident they will get the best possible return on their investment.

However, this isn’t the end for Performance Point Server, or at least it’s component parts. As expected the scorecarding, dashboard and analytics features will all be folded into Sharepoint 14 (due this year/early 2010) and the new “Performance Point Services for Sharepoint” will be available via the Enterprise CAL.

I think this is a really good idea and will certainly increase peoples usage of MS BI and thus help increase their market share. The proliferation of MOSS 2007 (Sharepoint) throughout all market sectors means an amazing amount of people will have much easier access to these tools. It will make it yet another compelling reason for people to make the move to Sharepoint and for those that already have (but didn’t take Software Assurance)-a good reason to upgrade. By removing a product from the portfolio it looks like MS will increase the use of that product as well as grow it’s (Sharepoint) revenue at the same time…good skills 🙂

From the official statement:

“Additionally, in the summer of 2009, we will release ‘Service Pack 3′ for PerformancePoint Server 2007, which will include updates to the Planning module. From there we will focus our development on the new monitoring and analytic capabilities in ‘PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint’ and will not offer standalone versions of PerformancePoint Server.”

Microsoft Business Intelligence (Project Gemini)


From Microsoft, Project Gemini could be the Business Intelligence turning point it needs. Despite SQL & Excel’s popularity, Microsoft were ranked just 5th in the BI arena by IDC.

Microsoft are getting serious about BI now, with SQL 2008, Performance Point Server 2007,Excel 2007 and now Project Gemini. Forrester say Gemini will

“bring an Excel-based user analytics mashup tool into the core of Microsoft’s BI and data warehousing product portfolio”. Tools currently only available to OLAP modelers will be accessible to all as an “in-memory, drag-and-drop, pivot-table-enabled” dashboard.

Tom Casey, Microsoft’s general manager for SQL Server business intelligence had this to say:

“is a game-changer for the BI and OLAP space, and will usher in the post-OLAP age of supremely versatile, deeply dimensional, user-developed analytics.”

The full article can be seen over at ComputerWorld here.

Nigel PEndse has got a great article over at olapreport, where he makes some great insights into what Gemini means for Microsoft, their users and their competitors..it’s well worth checking out.

Crystal Reports 2008


Crystal Reports is, in my opinion, the best reporting software in the market today. It’s been a real success story for us hear at Bechtle…2008 has seen a 600% increase in sales! I’d like to think this was all down to me and the sales guys and while we’ve certainly been instrumental, there has definitely been increased interest from customers in reporting software.

We all have SO much data these days and many of us (me included) have the feeling that if we could just get a handle on it, find it, organise it, process it and filter it-it would make a dramatic impact on how we do business. Say you’re a sales company and your systems contain information on who bought what, when they bought it, what else they bought, where they’re based and what industry they’re in for all 25,000 customers. If you could compile all that data, filter it, de-dupe it and match it you could make some really great targeted campaigns…but doing all that, quickly and easily can be nigh on impossible.

Yes, most systems these days have some kind of reporting tools but more often than not these feel tacked on in post production, almost an afterthought and they never quite let you run the reports you need. This is where Crystal Reports comes in..it can connect to almost any data source:

Native, ODBC, OLE DB, and JDBC connectivity to relational, OLAP, web services, XML, legacy, and enterprise data sources, and new salesforce.com driver.

The Parameter Panel means parameter values can be set without refreshing data. Parameters used are displayed on the panel so that report consumers can easily see them, make changes, and have the new values applied directly to the saved data.

On-Report sorting, filtering & re-formatting allow users to change and explore the information without having to re-query the database.

Built in Barcode Supportmeans you can easily convert fields to Code39 barcodes without coding or extra steps.

Also, from a licensing point of view there is just one version of Crystal Reports 2008 making it easier to maange your licensing.

Free fully functional 30 day trials can be download from:

http://www.businessobjects.com/product/freetrials.asp

and of course, visit www.bechtle.co.uk or contact software@bechtle.co.uk for more info 😉

%d bloggers like this: