Business Intelligence in SharePoint

Business intelligence has evolved over the years and has morphed into something of a catch-all phrase for using data to drive business. As SharePoint has become a central and nearly ubiquitous application, it has also become a prime place to show the data that decision makers need to make decisions. SharePoint is a perfect display case for all those fancy charts, graphs, performance indicators, and other data.

An article was published in the October 1958 edition of the IBM Journal by H. P. Luhn called “A Business Intelligence System.” The article describes how an organization can process documents in order to make business decisions.

In the Microsoft realm, business intelligence consists of a number of different technologies. Unfortunately, business intelligence has a fairly steep learning curve in SharePoint.

Tools such as Report Builder, Dashboard Designer, and PowerPivot unleash endless possibilities, but figuring out how to use them all takes time. One thing you will find with business intelligence in SharePoint is that there are often many ways to achieve the same result. And therein lies the learning curve.

At the basic level, if you can create a chart in Excel, you can plunk it into a SharePoint library and embed it on a page using a web part. Ta-da! You just achieved business intelligence in SharePoint. The consumers of the data might never even know how easy it was to put that data in Excel and embed it in a SharePoint webpage.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, you might need to create a data cube (a specialized database in the big data world) with millions or billions of records, and then use a specialized tool such as Dashboard Designer to create an interactive graph with click-through capabilities. Whew! That sounds complicated, and it is.

You need serious expertise when diving into the depths of business intelligence, but that doesn’t mean you can’t understand it at a high level. Many different tools and features make up business intelligence in SharePoint 2013.

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