Microsoft Takes Up Scorecarding

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-10-31 Print this article Print

Performance management app aims to maximize Office.

Unwilling to cede any portion of the the enterprise software market to its competitors, Microsoft Corp. is pushing into the business intelligence space with a new offering designed to help customers get more out of their investments in Office.

The Redmond, Wash., company last week announced that its Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005 will be available in November. This is a new, server-based business scorecarding application that takes advantage of the Office system and extends the SQL Server platform to help enterprises deploy personalized scorecards to employees so they can track key performance indicators against goals.

Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, said the server will cost $5,000 and the CAL (Client Access License) will go for $175 per user. "This is just a fraction of the cost of comparable solutions," Raikes said during a Web conference.

Some enterprise customers have welcomed Microsofts move into the business scorecard space.

Allen Emerick, the IT director for Skanska USA Building Inc., in Parsippany, N.J., said the product would provide the company with the visibility and tools needed to improve business performance that are critical in todays marketplace.

The way people work is also changing, Raikes said, citing the need for people to work across organizational boundaries, the expectation of richer capabilities from users and far more transparency in how IP is managed, and meeting government regulations and requirements.

"People are always on and always connected, and this is most relevant to what we are discussing today around business intelligence. This creates new challenges like people feeling they are simultaneously suffering from information overload and information underload, where they cant access the information they really need, and that is what we believe we have to address," he said.

BI is not as pervasive inside organizations as it could be, Raikes said, only reaching approximately 20 percent of those users who could benefit from it.

"The reasons for this are that users see it as inconvenient, expensive and hard to use. But we at Microsoft see this as an opportunity, and we want to transform what BI means to a company and to make it as pervasive as e-mail," Raikes said.

Dan Vesset, an analyst at IDC, of Framingham, Mass., said that the BI market has seen a 17 percent compound annual growth rate during the past 10 years, reaching $4.3 billion in worldwide software revenue. But, until now, the vendors primary focus has been on analysts and power users, he said.

"By integrating new BI functionality into Office and ensuring Office connectivity to the SQL Server platform, Microsoft has the potential to both broaden the use of BI by business users and provide IT staff with greater control over deployment and maintenance of the BI platform," he said.

Microsoft is also extending BI beyond the platform to user tools and BI applications for better business performance.

Raikes said Microsoft is hearing from its customers that they want to be able to have BI reach more people by being able to deliver it through Office, as this would provide a simple user experience for accessing and working with that business information by putting them into the context of the familiar tools they have today.

The performance management technologies will be provided through the Business Scorecard product, with the user tools coming on the portal and collaboration side through SharePoint 12 technologies; with user analysis coming through Excel 12; and integration, analysis, reporting and data warehousing coming from SQL Server 2005, which Microsoft plans to launch next week.

Raikes also confirmed that Office "12" will be in beta by years end, with the product due in the second half of next year.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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