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Monday, February 16, 2009

Dynamics BI: BI for the Masses

Recently Microsoft made the announcement that Office PerformancePoint Server will soon become PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint Server.

The move can best be described by the recent statment from Microsoft on their Partner Program entry about BI: (Link Here)
"The Microsoft business intelligence (BI) strategy is to use the tools found in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and Microsoft Office Excel —and the scalable Microsoft SQL Server business intelligence platform —to deliver BI to anyone in any organization. This strategy enables customers to deploy complete BI solutions through existing investments in these three key Microsoft products."

So when have been talking about Office being more and more the front end for Dynamics AX for years now. And with some of the confusion that has surronded the BI road map and approach in the past, this move seems to be the best move forward.

Now we do have a clear direction on 'BI for the masses'. And this direction has been bulding up for the past several years, and it started with the release of Dynamics AX 4.0.

With this new path, we can now really start to focus on using SQL Server's BI offerings with OLAP mixed with SharePoint and PerformancePoint Services for Dashboards, scorecards, KPI, and make Excel the front end for view and using this combined information to make Office Business Applications and Custom BI reports for customers. We also use this platform to enable our customers to create ad-hoc BI reports with much ease --- once all of this is in place.

The move can start to happen now though with SQL Server's OLAP, and Dynamics AX 2009 and Office 2007. You can already create great BI reports and dashboards inside Excel with today's technology that will build up and allow you to add to that the PerformancePoint Services offerings that will also be delivered via SharePoint.

Now I did mention something else in there, OBA or Office Business Applications. This concept was introduced with VSTO in Visual Studio 2005 and Office 2007 and the offering really expanded with the release of .Net 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008.


Image source from the AXStart blog located here: AXStart Blog Post


So OBA's exists and can be bought or custom made by partners and customers. These are Office centered applications, code in managed code for offering up libraries, and full applications that achieve a business process.

As you can see in the image above, these can span multiple LOB Apps, or Line of Business Applications even beyond Dynamics ERP / CRM.

To find out more about OBA, I recomend going to the MSDN article found here: Building Office Business Applications

So are we starting to see what 'BI for the masses' is going to be? It will span possibly multiple LOB Apps, including having Dynamics AX at the heart of that, with SQL Server and ShaerPoint, and other Office Services at the stars for the delivery, shaping and mining of the needed information, using Excel as the front end for the presentation of such information.

This is an exciting move forward, because everywhere I go, everyone loves to use Excel as their choice of reporting tool actually. And this BI for the masses simply builds on that desire and drive and keeps Excel as the front end to a very flexible, scalable and desireable BI platform that fits in the smallest of companies to the top of the fortune 500.

If you would like information on BI for Dynamics AX and the Dynamics Platform, feel free to contact us at Sunrise: Sunrise Contact us link. Make sure to tell them I sent you!

Also check back soon as I continue down the BI path, and also bring in some exciting information and interview about the Recent BPM / SOA conference and it's topic on Dynmaics AX. I also have been contacted about a soon to be release Dynamics AX 2009 book that I will be reviewing, and on top of that more SQL Server... so I have a lot coming out.

See you then!

Update:
I wanted to also make sure and point you to the Offical Microsoft BI home on the web. That can be found here: Microsoft.com/BI. Check it out. A lot of good information can be found there.


"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"


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