Microsoft Speeds BI with Two New Accelerators

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2004-06-02 Print this article Print

Microsoft unveils two downloads geared toward simplifying and speeding the analysis of business performance.

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday announced two new business intelligence accelerators geared toward easing access to data and speeding scorecard creation. The first, Microsoft Office Business Scorecards Accelerator, is a Web-based application designed to simplify the collection and measurement of performance metrics. According to Tom Rizzo, director of product management for SQL Server at the Redmond, Wash., company, the tool is aimed at customers who are looking for a dashboard view of their business.
The tool is designed to aid customers who are seeking to measure business-critical metrics such as revenue generation, customer satisfaction and manufacturing defects, for example. Many enterprises have such information stored in back-end systems, such as in Microsofts SQL Server database management systems or in other databases.
The Scorecard Analyzer contains what Rizzo referred to as lots of "widgets" that users can drag and drop onto a SharePoint Portal Server Web site. Such widgets include a scorecard viewer and a scorecard creation tool with a simple interface that requires no custom coding. The Scorecard Analyzer employs an engine that pulls data from user-determined sources using user-determined measurements. Such automatic data collection replaces traditional manual collection and analysis of data and also supports personalization by organization, business unit or user. The free download will be fully supported by Microsoft, Rizzo said. Product licenses for Office 2003, SharePoint Portal Server 2003, SQL Server 2000 and Windows Server 2003 are required. The second download is the Excel Add-in for Analysis Services, a reporting and analysis tool for accessing and analyzing data in Excel databases. This tool is designed to shape Excel into a BI tool for higher-end users who employ pivot tables and/or connect to multiple data sources, Rizzo said. The Excel Add-in for Analysis Services tool adds a simple interface to create reports against Analysis Services in Excel by using a drag-and-drop environment. It can connect to multiple data sources from within an Excel worksheet. It employs the OLAP (online analytical processing) functionality of SQL Server Analysis Services to help users create customized reports. The Add-in also supports the idea of write-back. This will enable information pulled out of Analysis Services to be changed and then written back into Analysis Services, thus enabling actions such as "what if" analysis. The Add-in supports Excel 2002 and 2003; a license for one of those two products is required for use. The tool is localized in five languages: English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese. The free download is available here and also will be fully supported by Microsoft. Check out eWEEK.coms Database Center at for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.

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Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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