Microsoft Brings Business Intelligence to the Masses With SharePoint

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 27, 2009 — Microsoft has unveiled changes to the company’s business intelligence strategy, including the consolidation of capabilities found within Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 into Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Enterprise and now branding them as PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint.

Kurt DelBene, Senior Vice President of the Microsoft Office Business Platform Group.

PressPass spoke with Kurt DelBene, senior vice president of the Office Business Platform Group, to discuss the decision to consolidate the two projects and how it affects customers.

PressPass: What exactly are you announcing today?

DelBene: Based on customer feedback, we have decided to consolidate the scorecard, dashboard and analytical capabilities from Office PerformancePoint Server into Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Enterprise and rebrand them as PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint. In addition, in mid-2009, we will release Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 Service Pack 3 (SP3), which will include updates to the current product’s planning module. Thereafter, we will no longer continue with a stand-alone version of Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.

Our decision is based on wanting customers to truly experience pervasive business intelligence in their organization at a low cost through the tools they use every day. In today’s economic climate, having the most pertinent information available, allowing you to clearly view the health of your organization, is imperative. We want to give what customers need in a way that makes sense for their business — through the widely adopted Office SharePoint Server, the planning and analysis tool Microsoft Office Excel, and the highly scalable Microsoft SQL Server.

PressPass: Why did Microsoft make this decision?

DelBene: We frequently sum up our mission as bringing “BI to the masses.” Incorporating Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 features into Office SharePoint Server helps us fulfill that mission and sets us apart from many of the BI vendors that require the purchase of specialized applications.

Analyst firms have told us that BI solutions offered by these other vendors are typically only adopted by about 20 percent of employees at any given company. Part of the reason for such low adoption rates is the expense of licensing additional seats and the learning curve required to become a proficient user.

Microsoft’s BI solution, on the other hand, relies on familiar, widely used tools such as SharePoint Server and Microsoft Office Excel, which is arguably one of the most widely used analysis and planning tools around the world. The ease of use and broad accessibility of our BI offering is part of the reason behind our success. The way we look at it, the more employees who have access to business data, the greater a company’s ability to anticipate changes and make adjustments.

PressPass: How will you support Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 customers?

DelBene: We’re committed to helping our customers make the most of their investment in PerformancePoint Server — part of which is reflected in the release of SP3 later this year. In addition, we’ll continue supporting our customers’ planning implementations of PerformancePoint Server well into the next decade. Customers with questions can consult the Microsoft Support Web site for more information.

Understandably, this also raises questions about software licensing. Our account teams will work with customers to ensure their satisfaction with any changes in their licensing agreements. In fact, it’s more than likely that customers will be able to license more of their employees to use the Microsoft BI solution.

PressPass: How will customers benefit from this decision?

DelBene: It really gets back to the notion of helping more people harness the data inside their organization. Customers have been asking for easier access. Shifting the monitoring and analytics capabilities to SharePoint is a step in that direction.

In conjunction with the scalability of the Microsoft SQL Server BI platform, this move will not only provide greater access to BI features, but also will deliver them alongside the search, collaboration and content management features most people are accustomed to using in SharePoint.

One of our partners, Hitachi Consulting, says that this approach of embedding BI into widely used business productivity tools will help more customers realize the benefits of BI. The benefits don’t stop with the customer, either, because this move helps partners such as Hitachi deliver greater value to their customers without requiring additional technology investments.

PressPass: What are Microsoft’s future development plans for business intelligence?

DelBene: We will focus on development of the monitoring and analytic capabilities in PerformancePoint Services for SharePoint Server. Beyond that, we’ll strive to develop BI solutions that are affordable and easily accessible with a view to furthering the vision of BI for the masses.

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