October 31, 2011 By Nadine Hamilton
A colleague and I recently attended Sharepoint Saturday in Canberra. A day-long conference of all things MS Sharepoint. The sessions were broad ranging, appealing to business focussed and highly technical alike.
Most business intelligence tools in the market today are accessible via a browser-based interface or portal. With the increasing use of collaboration tools, integration between these and business intelligence tools to give users a single platform to meet all their information needs is an interesting direction.
My key takeaways from the day were that many of the principles advocated for best practice implementations of Sharepoint 2010 have significant parallels to data warehouse and business intelligence best practices, and that the rise of unstructured data is challenging the traditional view of a DW/BI solution.
Information Management Best Practices advocate:
- Finding information easily, and ensuring it is the right version (Getting the right information to the right person at the right time)
- Maintaining a single version of the truth
- Reducing duplication of processes or recreating information repeatedly to be more efficient
- Using an iterative approach to developing the solution
Fundamentally these principles are common sense but need to be underpinned by good information management governance. The key theme that came across from many of the presentations was that technology alone, in this case Sharepoint 2010, will never be the entire solution. This technology provides a flexible and easy to use platform that encourages self-service and collaboration.
With Sharepoint 2010 Microsoft is offering a platform that allows business users to access both their structured and unstructured data from one place. Centralising emails, documents and spreadsheets (the bane of many a traditional data warehouse) into one place, and offering an integration of these different data sources with structured data in a way that appears seamless (to the user) is a very attractive promise. The proof will be in the success of implementations that can deliver upon this.
We look forward to the possibility of a user group session that explores Sharepoint 2010 for business intelligence in more detail in the future. Thanks to the Sharepoint User Group in Canberra for arranging this session.
About the Author: Nadine Hamilton is a Senior Consultant with Altis Consulting and has over 10 years experience in managing, designing and implementing Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence solutions. Nadine has been involved in multiple DW and BI projects in the UK and Australia, in Finance and Government.