Exactly what is BI? Traditionally BI meant data warehousing, decision support and analysis. Business intelligence has come a long way and has transformed into a broader and deeper space as a key ingredient for aiding and executing business strategies. Intelligence or understanding of the business is achieved through collecting key information about core business actives such as marketing, sales, services etc. and analyzing behavior of customers, staff, suppliers, so that right actions can be taken at the right time. BI system would involve continually collecting (data warehousing) information about the organizational activities and then further organizing it to facilitate analysis, reporting, data mining and catering to more diverse analysis needs.
In today’s economic conditions, to stay competitive - businesses need to react to market changes quickly and appropriately, optimize their operations as best as they can, identify cut backs and drive costs out among other things. Having access to the right information at the right time is key to this and hence you see information driven initiatives within organizations of all sizes and verticals today. It’s no surprise that Gartner Report earlier this year noted “It’s clear that BI continues to be at the center of information driven initiatives in organizations”. According to Gartner, BI and analytics is a $10.5 billion market. With businesses coming out of recession are expected to invest more in their information driven initiatives to grow this further in the next 2-3 years.
SAP, SAS, Oracle, IBM and Microsoft together control about 3/4th of the market.
As of Jan 2011, even though at 5th position in market share Gartner BI magic quadrant put Microsoft in the leader quadrant. Microsoft’s BI offering has grown 23.6% in 2010.
Gartner BI Magic Quadrant 2011
In Gartner survey, more Microsoft customers said True Cost of Ownership (TCO) was their #1 reason for selecting Microsoft as their BI vendor.
In Microsoft’s current offering in the market, SQL Server 2008 R2 combined with Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 offer rich capabilities as part of Microsoft’s BI stack. In the IT managed BI world, SQL Server Analysis services(SSAS) powered by SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) have offered centrally managed BI services. SQL Server Integration Services provides capabilities needed to bring data from preexisting IT infrastructure for Sales, Marketing, Finance and other operation management systems by SAP, Oracle, Siebel etc.
In the more recent trends of partial and complete Self serviced BI - Excel with Excel Services and PowerPivot, Microsoft Performance Point and SharePoint are great choices to enable the end users with BI capabilities.
Performance point services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 enables analysis and monitoring of Business Performance and Corporate Performance. Performance point enables power users create rich dashboards with ability to navigate to drill down data and perform deeper analysis all on the browser. With the ability to connect to a host of data sources including SQL Server and Excel, this empowers a power user to build necessary strategic intelligence, collaborate and share it.
Excel’s Power pivot add-in is a simple and powerful way to analyze data by end user. SharePoint 2010′s ability to host an Excel document with power pivot and offer the same analysis capability on the browser makes this analysis collaborative yet protecting the data.
There are significant improvements in the reporting capabilities in the next version of SQL Server code named Denali and the BI offering code named Crescent. Stay tuned to this blog for more on that.