Demystifying SharePoint Business Intelligence

By Rich Blank posted 12-02-2010 03:00


One of the more confusing aspects of SharePoint is its Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities.  Why is it confusing (at least for me)?  Well, this is AIIM and we spend most of our time discussing information involving unstructured content as opposed to data.   And the BI world involves databases and data warehouses and OLAP cubes and other related buzzwords like EPM or business analytics.  BI is really its own unique niche.  Leave it to Microsoft to build BI capabilities into SharePoint along with everything else and in the SharePoint 2010 wheel -- it's called "Insights".  Whatever you call it, the hidden value of SharePoint is its ability to manage data and content together. 

One typical example of a SharePoint solution involving BI and data is a performance reporting portal.  In generic terms, this is what a Performance Reporting Portal might include:

While I hesitate using the word “portal” in today’s world of social sharing & collaboration, business users love their portals and dashboards.   This is also a request I am seeing more and more of as business users are beginning to realize that SharePoint can be used for more than just intranet pages, team-sites and document libraries.   Additionally, there is real business value that executives recognize in this type of solution (and they’re more willing to approve funding for this type of project).

Now this type of solution is just one example.   As Microsoft defines it, there’s also business intelligence for the community as well as the organization.   I’ll reference this Technet article  on “Choosing a business intelligence tool in SharePoint Server.   There’s a great diagram and related information that map the capabilities of SharePoint BI tools to the appropriate business scenarios where they might be used.  While you may not require all the services SharePoint provides, you’ll want to identify your requirements and business needs.  You might also consider drafting a roadmap for your business unit or organization that outlines your use of SharePoint in the short and long term.  

In some cases, you might find yourself completely replacing your Hyperion or Cognos applications with Microsoft’s SharePoint Business Intelligence.   In other cases, you might think about how your SAP reporting and SharePoint can work together more seamlessly.  There are obvious cost savings in consolidating platforms and vendors and it’s quite possible that 80% of what you use your existing BI tools for can be migrated to and managed on SharePoint’s platform.   Furthermore, there are also added benefits of combining data, dashboards, and reporting with all the collaborative and social features that SharePoint provides.   And perhaps one day, we can end the use of the word "portal"!





This covers an overview of business intelligence in SharePoint Server and provides you with an overview of each business intelligence service and when you might use the service, architecture for application of the business intelligence services and how they work together in a topology, a list of possible data sources for each business intelligence service.


#Content Analytics #SharePoint #BusinessIntelligence #BI