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SharePoint Business Intelligence

The arrival of SharePoint 2013 brings numerous new features to the product. Improved business intelligence (BI) capabilities and support for big data will prove critical in helping managers and workers make decisions


Business intelligence (BI) in SharePoint 2013 provides comprehensive BI tools that integrate across Microsoft Office applications and other Microsoft technologies.
 

These BI tools are:

  • Excel Services in SharePoint 2013
  • PerformancePoint Services in SharePoint Server 2013
  • Visio Services in SharePoint 2013
  • Excel Services
    Microsoft introduced Excel Services as part of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) in 2007, and it has become the cornerstone of its self-service BI offerings. At first, MOSS 2007 took considerable effort and some administrative leverage to make BI available to end users. Now it's more mature and can help any business build real, Excel-based applications, from simple dashboards to more-complex data modeling and analysis functionality.

    The key capabilities offered by the latest iteration of Excel Services build on this basic premise: End users know more about what they need and can react faster to changes than developers. Meanwhile, most businesses have more than a few Excel experts.

Key BI Enhancements in SharePoint 2013
  • PowerPivot: Introduced in SharePoint 2010, PowerPivot now offers deeper integration with Excel Services, giving users the ability to create relationships between data from different sources. This allows users to view complex data in a more refined, normalized form.
  • Power View: Excel Services 2013 takes better advantage of the new Microsoft data modeling and visualization engine that sits atop the SQL Server Reporting Services add-in to SharePoint.
  • Business Connectivity Services Users can now connect diagrams directly to external data, opening a wealth of opportunities for user-driven data displays. Because SharePoint can provide and control access to key data, administrators can easily share data sources through the SharePoint interface.
  • Dashboard DesignerTool to define data sources and regions on a page to hold such artifacts as filters, grids, charts and graphs. With the push of a button, it creates Web Part Pages and connected Web Parts that represent the dashboard.
  • iPad Interface: The iPad is now a first-class client to PerformancePoint dashboards, meaning executives using the popular tablet can now access PerformancePoint dashboards using the interactive form factor, including ability to use touch intuitively and effectively.
  • View the workbook in the browser: Using Office Web Applications (OWA), users can view and even edit documents without the need for Excel. Granted, it's a reduced functionality set, but it still allows for quick, collaborative edits that will keep everyday work and projects on track.
  • Leverage the power of your expensive server farm:: Excel Services can break apart complex problems and distribute the calculations across all the expensive, powerful servers that make up your SharePoint farm. You can even schedule calculation jobs to be performed in off hours to mitigate the impact on server performance.
  • Build your own dashboards: Using the Excel Viewer Web Part, you can put Excel on nearly any page in your portal. You're not limited to showing a full spreadsheet -- you can also limit the display to a single chart, range or pivot table. Building a dashboard is now as easy as building a spreadsheet and dropping a Web Part on a page.
Access Big Data
In previous versions of Excel Services, the toolset was very good at handling small data sets and performing fairy complex calculations. The problems came when users would try to process larger data sets, or perform very complex modeling. Server resources became an issue; in many cases, this could impact overall SharePoint performance.

Excel Services 2013 now allows for much bigger data sets.Excel workbook file itself is having a 2GB file-size cap on all SharePoint 2013 servers, but the only limit on how big the spreadsheet can get once opened is the memory resources and disk space on your servers.

 
Visio Services 2013
Users can connect live data to their Visio diagrams, have elements update based on that data, and then publish the new dynamic diagram to a SharePoint document library. Then they can display all or part of a diagram on any Web page with the Visio Web Access Web Part.
 
Performance Point
PerformancePoint is a dashboard-builder and data-visualization engine that started life as a standalone product, was merged with SharePoint 2010 and is now enhanced in SharePoint 2013 in some very helpful ways.

Designers use this tool to define data sources and regions on a page to hold such artifacts as filters, grids, charts and graphs. Users access SharePoint using their Web browser, and because the dashboards are nothing more than Web Parts and Web Part Pages, they render just like anything else in SharePoint. These Web Parts allows the users to use filters for dynamic querying and, even better, drill down into the data in a variety of helpful ways.

SharePoint 2013 introduces some new UI enhancements and some server-side enhancements that continue to help PerformancePoint evolve toward a truly mature product.

 
UI Enhancements
SharePoint 2013 adds two major new enhancements to the UI that will be welcome to existing 2010 users:
 
  • Theme support: It was nearly impossible to change the look and feel of core PerformancePoint functionality prior to this new release.
  • iPad interface: The iPad is now a first-class client to PerformancePoint dashboards. This means, among other things, that iPad-using executives can access your PerformancePoint dashboards using this highly interactive form factor -- including the ability to use touch intuitively and effectively.
   
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