Monday, April 29, 2013

Analytics Reporting and Dashboards...

Recently I started a topic on Microsoft Business Intelligence forum in LinkedIn regarding having a common tool for doing SSAS cube reporting, relational reporting,charts and may be Pivot tables. It was a interesting discussion with comments raging from should we a need a all inclusive tool or have separate tools for different types of reporting. The reason i wanted to bring up this topic is because of the recent announcement of different tools from Microsoft starting with Powerpivot, then Powerview , GeoFlow and also more importantly placing Excel has a central BI tool for self service BI analytics. During this discussion I was sent a link to One of the much talked about topic in past was when Microsoft decided to end Proclarity and use PerformancePoint as a primary dashboard tool. There were lot of folks who were upset with that move and had been long yearning for a tool like Proclarity. Pyramid analytics has tool called bioXL, quoting from the company's website: Pyramid Analytics bioXL allows users to rapidly query both multi-dimensional and tabular OLAP cubes in SSAS and PowerPivot. Users can view trends, quickly isolate and investigate issues, drilling down to details as required or drill across ("dice") through data dimensions in a tool that reflects all the classic requirements of a cube viewer built with today’s technologies and application design concepts. I feel it has lot of features and potential to be used for Analytics reporting. Here is the link for, they also offer another product such as bioPoint. In summary there are vendors like pyramidanalytics who have come up with a product to fill the void created by Proclarity.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tableau and Microsoft BI...

One of recent trends in the space of BI has been the use of tablets to display dashboards and enable business managers to get to know important business metrics on the fly. Adding strength to the Mobile BI space has been the fact that the recent increase in the shipments of tablets , at the same time a drop in PC shipments. Presently business is looking to extend BI capabilities for its user base by wanting to get BI solutions deployed to different platforms/devices. Microsoft at this point has not really gotten into the Mobile Space domain yet but there is a way to extend Microsoft BI to Mobile. Here is a link below where in Jen Underwood from Tableau elaborates on how Microsoft BI on Mobile can be achieved. It is called Tableau and Microsoft BI for Mobile BI. I have extracted some key points from the blog:

1) Tableau’s touch-optimized, business intelligence is available across a wide array of mobile device types, browsers, and operating systems including Windows, iPad and Android - native apps and browser based.  In the BYOD world we live in today, having wide device support is critical. Don't limit your mobile BI consumers to one device type.
2) Mobile users can view, edit or even author new visualizations on their favorite mobile tablets to not only view data but also ask on the fly questions in meetings or while on site to get immediate answers.
Read on further at the link below:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Excel - 3-D Data Visualization

There has been a ever increasing flow of Data visualization tools in the market. The tools become more effective if the data beneath the tools are clean and meaningful. The most recent version of Tableau has options to connect to Big Data sources and help users analyze such data, Big data has been a important space for a lot of vendors, of course there is a hype factor too. Microsoft recently announced a public preview of a tool called GeoFlow. As per Microsoft: “Geoflow” is a 3D visualization tool that helps users map, explore and interact with both geographic and chronological data, enabling discoveries that could be difficult to identify with traditional 2D tables and charts. Moreover, “Geoflow” emphasizes visual storytelling through collaborative features that show changes in data over time with beautiful screenshots and cinematic, guided video tours.

The output of Geoflow looks pretty slick, I would be interested in knowing how much value 3-D Data visualization provides (I guess the video tours would be very effective). Please check the link below to find out what GeoFlow has to offer, currently it is available along with Excel 2013.
I took the picture from the link above...


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

MultiDimensional Vs Tabular...

With the release of SQL Server 2012, SSAS has two modes one with MultiDimensional and the other with tabular. Depending on the business needs of the organisation one of the modes can be chosen or the two modes can exist on different servers. Well decisions would need to be made on what mode suits the organisation, one of the ways to approach this problem is that one could do a technological evaluation of the two modes and decide which one to choose. A better way to handle this would be is to use a decision matrix which would combine a good mix of business and technology needs. I would list them here, thanks to Devin Knight(From Pragmaticworks). Here are the following points.
1. The Time required to Develop the solution.
2. The type of Data Sources (What are the data sources is it going to be a relation database  or flat files or web or xml).
3. The Ease of Query Language ( When using Multidimensional one needs to know MDX, when one uses tabular one needs to know DAX, this is kind of similar to excel based functions. Depending on the resources, what would be the learning curve, does the budget allow for staffing new resource who are skilled with either of the languages.)
4. Security (What are the security considerations for the solution to be developed, is security a top priority or not).
5. Presentation Options (What type of reports are required and how are they to be presented. What are the delivery modes for the reports for the end users)
6. Model Compatibility (How does either of the modes adhere to the data model available at hand, is there a good star schema database/dimensional model available or is the modelling of data very varied).
7. Scalability ( How scalable the solution is going to be, what is the data growth going be, by how much the source database going to grow, how much value the data is going to provide).

I find these 7 points cover a good range of questions that can be answered, it tries to incorporate a mix of business and technical factors. Hope the readers find these very helpful.