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This blog is co-authored by Charles Stahl, Practice Leader and Stephen Crandall, Business Analyst

It’s a new year and you may be thinking… “Is it time for my company to start moving forward with a Business Intelligence (BI) initiative?”.  Perhaps you have already determined what you want, you know the insights you would like to get out of the solution and now you are evaluating the gamut of BI solutions flooding the marketplace.  In fact, there are a number of highly capable Business Intelligence (BI) solutions available in the marketplace today. Some of these solutions are offered by SAP, Oracle, SAS, IBM, MicroStrategy, and many others. Each of them have different strengths and weaknesses, as well as various approaches to solving your BI needs.

While you are sifting through the various BI solutions what if I told you that you probably already own the software required to develop one of the top-rated BI solutions?  And what if I told you it was a solution from one of the largest, most well-respected technology companies on the planet?

On any given work day you probably use SharePoint or Excel, right?  If you pair that up with Microsoft SQL Server you have the Microsoft BI Solution Stack.  That’s right – you do not need to go out and buy a new BI solution that consists of numerous 3rd Party tools… that’s because you already own one.  Even better, you own the BI solution that’s made up of tools you and anyone in the company is familiar with.

Microsoft’s approach to providing a robust BI solution to its customers is to leverage the already widely-used platform components that most companies already own and use on a daily basis.  Just think of how much easier it will be to roll-out a business solution to the organization when you tell them they can access all of the information they need using Excel and SharePoint.  Chances are that you are already using Excel for analyzing data that you exported by some other system to make valuable business decisions.

Since the BI tools that Microsoft provides users with are so familiar it allows them to do more self-service BI functions and empowers all levels of the organization to use timely, accurate data to make valuable insights.

OK, OK, this all seems too good to be true and you are probably wondering how developed the Microsoft BI solution is and does it really compare to some of the more well-known BI oriented solutions. According to Gartners’ Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms - 2012 Microsoft is ranked as a Leader among qualifying BI platforms. What does this mean? According to Gartner, “Leaders are Vendors that are reasonably strong in the breadth and depth of their BI platform capabilities and can deliver on enterprise wide implementations that support a broad BI strategy. Leaders articulate a business proposition that resonates with buyers, supported by the viability and operational capability to deliver on a global basis.”

Not only does the Microsoft BI Solution work with your existing data it also works seamlessly with other Microsoft solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics AX. Business Intelligence in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 is not an add on module – it’s embedded and native with the Microsoft Product stack – Dynamics AX 2012, SQL Server, Office, SharePoint… all come together to deliver powerful, easy to use, and out of the box BI capabilities across your organization.

In my experience, one of the big problems with the way companies view ERP is that it’s “just a transactional system”… it’s not just the transactional capabilities that are the real power and value of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, although there is incredibly rich functionality here – it’s the BI… but for most companies BI is an add-on and typically a Phase II or III and in reality may never get done. That’s one of the big reasons why Microsoft’s embedded native BI is so powerful…

With SQL 2012 Microsoft has really stepped up their game showing that they are a force to be reckoned with.  Not only have they improved upon the Master Data Services and Data Quality Services, they have also introduced PowerView.  PowerView brings even more capabilities into the hands of the users allowing them to visualize and interact with modeled data within SharePoint, Excel, and even PowerPoint.  Imagine how much time you can save if you could create a single slide in your executive level presentation that allows you to interact with the data on the fly?  Showing the high-level trends then drilling into problem areas and focusing on key areas of the business to make actionable conclusions.

PowerView provides highly interactive:

  • Visualizations
  • Animations
  • Smart Querying
  • Rich Storyboard Presentation Capabilities

Most business executives want to minimize risk as much as possible. With Microsoft BI you can feel comfortable that you’ve chosen the right solution… Independent analyst firms Forrester and Gartner rank Microsoft Business Intelligence as one of the highest rated BI solutions available today. For further details, check out Microsoft’s BI home page here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/bi/default.aspx

See more of the exciting Next Practices enabled by the out-of-the-box Business Intelligence capabilities inherent in with the Microsoft BI solution!


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