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SQL Server 2012 Provides New BI Capabilities

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (Code Name Denali) was just released. It has a new Business Intelligence (BI) edition, a new licensing model, and some new BI features that business users as well as developers should find interesting. Users will be happy to find that Microsoft has moved a step closer to true self service BI in SQL Server 2012. In this version they are introducing Power View (Code Name Project Crescent), several PowerPivot enhancements, and much more.
Power View is part of SQL Server Reporting Services 2012. It allows business users to present data easily and interactively directly within SharePoint. It is presented in a familiar Microsoft Office format with a ribbon along the top, a design pane, and a field list that is reminiscent of a pivot table in Microsoft Excel. Power View brings interactivity and ad-hoc reporting together in a tool that does not require data expertise. All of the objects on a Power View dashboard can be filtered based on slicers, filters, and any other object on the screen. Data changes can be animated over time, or any other dimension, allowing for a deeper understanding of how some values change based on changes in others. Power View dashboards are easily created with just a few clicks. Its ease of use is demonstrated in this Power View video on YouTube.

PowerPivot is an in memory analytic tool presented in a Microsoft Excel environment making it instantly familiar to business users. It is not a brand new product, but Microsoft has added several enhancements in an effort to make PowerPivot more useful. Users now have the ability to model their data in PowerPivot using the diagram view. Diagram view allows you to look at your data in terms of objects and their relationships. You are also able to define relationships and user hierarchies directly from within the PowerPivot environment. Another interesting feature is called perspectives. This feature allows you to create a view of data which is ideal for certain users or business scenarios. A perspective limits the fields that a user sees, thus simplifying the analysis and increasing usability. You can now take better advantage of date tables, add KPI’s to your PowerPivot solution, and manage calculations and KPI’s more easily. A more complete list of new features is available at Microsoft’s TechNet Library.
Although these SQL 2012 BI features empower users of varying skill levels, the real power comes from taking full advantage of the Microsoft BI stack of tools. A well designed business intelligence solution can unlock hidden trends, make data analysis available to the entire organization, and bring one version of the truth to your analytics increasing consistency and speeding decision making.

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Brian Erlich

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