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Empowering Business Users: BI in SharePoint

By MRS on Friday, July 31 2015

SharePoint is a business tool. Microsoft’s intention is to use it to empower the business users to do things that were previously only possible with the help of IT pros. Workflows and site creation are examples of things that more advanced power users are able to do that would have previously required strong IT skills. Business intelligence in SharePoint works very similarly.

In SharePoint, sites with dashboards and reports can be created simply, and tailored specifically to each individual employee. Sales teams see sales KPIs, finance sees finance KPIs, and so on. While this is great in that it automates the process and offers employees up-to-date information, these reports generally require IT staff to put in the work to pull them together. In this regard, SharePoint simply acts as a front-end for SQL Server data paired with tools like SharePoint Reporting Services and SharePoint Dashboard Designer that offer graphical tools for creating the visuals.

On a team level.

The different tools paired with SharePoint (like Designer, Reporting Services) allow teams to interact more with their company data sources without the involvement of IT or “database” knowledge. The tools allow the data to become more focused to serve the needs of the team in question. This strengthens collaboration and makes the process more efficient by removing the need for IT to customize and tailor the data for the team’s specific purpose.

Where SharePoint shines: self-serving business reports.

SharePoint allows individuals to define the parameters of reports themselves, generally with the purpose of answering a specific business question. This means employees can get the information they need out of the company’s data. More robust environments may include non-company data sources like historical price trends, price of fuel, industry trends, or anything else that will help employees make more intelligent decisions. Power BI will further empower individual business users by letting them connect to company data sources, pull what they need, and create clean, interactive dashboards.

Microsoft is on a mission to make data easier to attain and easier to consume, and SharePoint is on the front line. Combined with its integration with the Office and Power suites, SharePoint is a leading tool for BI, for both organizational and self-serve/team uses. With SQL Server 2016 and SharePoint 2016 being released in about a year’s time, expect Microsoft to double-down on SharePoint BI and move even closer towards full self-service.