Got Intelligence Issues? – Look whats coming down the Line…….Moss 2007

October 16, 2006

Thats Business Intelligence (BI) issues by the way – SPS 2003, the Office 2003 Web Parts and Components Add-in, and Business Scorecard Manager all provided customers with important business intelligence (BI) features. Developers have used these BI technologies as a platform for building dashboard-style applications that provide upper-level management with up-to-date data that reflects the health of a business and flags potential problems in a timely matter.Based on their experience with these earlier BI components, the Office team designed MOSS 2007 to include a next-generation platform for building dashboards and integrating with other technologies such as Microsoft Excel 2007, SQL Server Reporting Services, and SQL Server Analysis Services. As with all other aspects of MOSS 2007, its BI platform builds on top of ASP.NET and WSS 3.0 and provides many opportunities for extending the default functionality.Consistent customer feedback indicated that a large percentage of corporations maintain a significant amount of business logic in Excel workbooks, and that this business logic has been hard to reuse across a large organization. This feedback led the Office team to create MOSS 2007 Excel Services, a server-side version of the traditional Excel calculation engine that has been rewritten from the ground up on top of WSS 3.0. Excel Services doesn’t suffer from the same types of scalability problems that occur when you run the desktop version of Excel on the server.Excel Services also provides a server-side rendering engine that can display worksheets in the browser as HTML. That means a company can store its Excel workbooks in a centralized document library and make them viewable by users who don’t even have Excel installed on their desktops. Furthermore, users can see the numbers displayed by a worksheet within the browser without having any access to the business logic behind it, thereby protecting a company’s intellectual property.The 2007 Microsoft Office system introduces a new paradigm, recognizing that companies maintain business logic within Excel just as they maintain business logic within compiled assemblies or SQL stored procedures. To support this new paradigm, the Office team added many new features to the 2007 Office system products designed to expose and update this business logic as well as to protect the intellectual property represented by this logic.The desktop version of Excel 2007 has been enhanced to allow information workers with Excel expertise to publish and update their workbooks in a document library within an MOSS 2007 portal site or a WSS team site. Users running Excel can view these workbooks through the familiar client experience while other users can rely on Excel Services to view the same workbook inside the browser. Note that this new workbook publishing metaphor allows a company to maintain a single master copy of its critical workbooks. It also allows the workbook author to post updates without the need to involve the development or IT staff.It’s important to note that the use of Excel Services isn’t restricted to the browser. You can create a Windows Forms application that uses the server-side Excel calculation engine but that doesn’t use the rendering engine. For example, a Windows Forms application can use Web services from Excel Services to load a workbook on the server, enter input data, perform calculations, and return a result as shown in Figure 10.You can see it’s not that hard to take advantage of formulas in Excel spreadsheets from across the network in a desktop application. This example furthers the analogy that Excel Services exposes the business logic defined in a workbook just as SQL Server exposes the business logic defined in a stored procedure.MOSS 2007 provides a special site template named Report Center for companies that want to build dashboard-style applications. Report Center was designed to make the new BI features of MOSS 2007 easy to discover and use. A Report Center site contains a document library named Reports Library that is tuned for storing and displaying BI reports such as Excel workbooks and reports built for SQL Reporting Services.Another important aspect of Report Center is the built-in support for creating and importing key performance indicators (KPIs), visual BI indicators that tell a manager how some aspect of the business is doing. For example, the KPI for a product inventory level might display a green light when there is enough inventory to supply all the orders for the coming week. However, the light might turn from green to yellow when the inventory level drops below some predefined threshold such as the amount of inventory required to supply orders for the next four days. The light then might change from yellow to red when the inventory level drops to a point where it will run out within the next 48 hours. The main idea is that a KPI flags business problems that require immediate attention.MOSS 2007 provides out-of-the-box support for several different KPI types. For example, you can create a KPI whose indicator changes automatically depending on data it reads dynamically from a WSS list or an Excel workbook. MOSS also provides integration support for KPIs in SQL Server 2005. That is, if you have already created KPIs with SQL Server Analysis Services, you can import and display them on a Report Center site alongside other supported KPIs.The last aspect of Report Center I want to discuss is the built-in framework for filtering data before it’s shown to the user. This is a key component of the MOSS 2007 dashboard framework because it makes dashboard pages more relevant to the user. When a manager visits a Report Center site, the experience is enriched if the dashboard views have been customized with data that is relevant for that particular manager. For example, a sales manager for the Eastern region can be presented with a different view of sales figures than the sales manager for the Western region. Furthermore, managers like to be able to see high-level data at first and then drill down into more specific categories on demand.

Filtering support is built into MOSS 2007 dashboards at the page level using Web Part connections. MOSS supplies Web Parts that allow page designers and users alike to specify criteria such as the name of the current user, a date range, or a product category. There are also many supplied Web Parts that can be configured to consume the filtering criteria supplied by other Web Parts such as the standard WSS List View Web Part as well as the Web Parts designed for use with the BDC, Excel Services, SQL Reporting Service, and SQL Analysis Services.

Remember that BI is only one of the four key pillars or themes coming out of Office 2007 server capabilities, Enterprise Content Management, Enterprise Project management and Communication and Collaboration are the others which i’ll be blogging about in the coming weeks.

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4 Responses to “Got Intelligence Issues? – Look whats coming down the Line…….Moss 2007”

  1. Hi,
    Very informative article.Looking forward to other articles.
    Thanks.
    Poonam

  2. Deeptyranjan Mohanty said

    Hi,

    It’s very usefull one.

    it still needs some more and particular articles.

  3. RAJNISH said

    How to configure Audience targeting by List Item in MOSS_2007?

  4. NeerajC said

    Great Information!!
    Would like to see more on Dashboard features.
    Do You have any PDFs or PPTs that would give me more idea on Dashboards.
    Please send me immediately as I am very much looking for the same.

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