Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tableau Blog - US Oil Imports in 2008

Response to a blog post published by Ross Perez of Tableau 

In previous BI Update posts, I’ve shared links to and expressed my enthusiasm for recent efforts by the Federal Government to expand public access to public information.

So I was thrilled to see a recent blog - US Oil Imports in 2008 – with interactive bar charts that you can click on to analyze US oil imports and exports in 2008.  The dimensions you can analyze the data by are:

# Barrels of Oil
By Export Country
By Import State
By Company (Oil Importer)
By Month

When I click on IRAQ in the “Country of Export” chart, I can immediately see which States imported oil from Iraq and through which Companies.  I can check out import trends over the past year.  The data visualizations compel me to look at the information in a new way.

Below the charts, there are also several buttons that you don’t want to overlook which help make this information actionable and useful to others, including buttons to...

View Data
Print to PDF
Revert All

I highly suggest checking out the Tableau blog archives and Visual Examples site when you have some free time… these resources are bound to get you thinking, and wishing you could look at more information in these ways!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Microsoft Case Studies: Microsoft BI vs IBM Cognos

Here are links and extracts for a handful of Microsoft Case Studies where PerformancePoint was selected over Cognos.  I know there are many many more such stories, but these are well-documented anyway...

Community Health Networks
Overcoming Cognos

GPX Tires
To help find a new BI solution, the company enlisted the help of SHEA Business Solutions. The Microsoft Certified Partner conducted a comprehensive review of available database and reporting products (including solutions from Cognos and Business Objects) before determining that Microsoft Office PerformancePoint™ Server 2007 was the best fit for GPX’s IT environment.

Tyson Foods
Another problem related to company growth was the challenge of making sense of so much data. Tyson used Cognos as its corporate business intelligence (BI) tool, but the program required a steep learning curve. Many employees beyond the Cognos experts could benefit from BI insights, but the IT staff did not have time to develop custom Cognos analysis cubes and dashboards for every department. In fact, the overworked IT staff had far more project requests than it could handle. It was eager to discover and deploy new technologies that would either shorten development cycles or empower users to create their own solutions without IT help.

In the finance department, having data in analysis cubes improves the company’s ability to audit financial data because information is consistent and more secure. Security is also enhanced by the ability to use Excel Services to hide information from unauthorized users. Financial analysts can publish reports to the intranet versus attaching documents to e-mail messages, which speeds access and reduces e-mail volume. Many analysts are using SQL Server Reporting Services in place of Cognos because it is less expensive and easier to use.

Responsiveness of financial analysis has also improved since Tyson began using Office Excel 2007 with SQL Server Analysis Services. “Performance has been amazing—the Analysis Services reports come back instantaneously, whereas the Oracle and Cognos reports could take anywhere from minutes to hours,” Barron says.

Ste Michelle Winery
Ste. Michelle evaluated business intelligence software from IBM Cognos, MicroStrategy, DataJungle (now called Blink Logic), and Oracle but decided that those options were either too expensive or too inflexible to meet its needs over the long term. Instead, the winery turned to a solution based on Microsoft Business Intelligence.

“The Microsoft Business Intelligence solution gave us the best combination of price and performance of any of the options that we considered,” says Alan Stefanin, Database Architect, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. “We have a best-of-breed strategy, and Microsoft Business Intelligence fit into that perfectly. A significant share of our IT infrastructure is based on Microsoft technologies, and this solution would operate easily with what we already used.”

Ste. Michelle put the Microsoft Business Intelligence solution into production for just half the cost of most of the alternatives that it considered, representing a savings of U.S.$100,000 in the first year, according to Gregg. He attributes the savings to several factors.

The Credit Valley Hospital
The Credit Valley Hospital worked with a Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner, Systemgroup Inc., to implement a new business intelligence (BI) solution. After reviewing several options, including tools from Cognos and SAS, Credit Valley decided on Microsoft® Office PerformancePoint™ Server 2007 as the most flexible and cost-effective performance management option.

In seeking an automated solution to replace the paper-based system, Swisscom first evaluated business analytics solutions from some of the major management performance software vendors, including IBM Cognos, SAS, and SAP Crystal Reports. Dörfer says: “These vendors supply big toolsets, but most of them have many functions that we simply did not need. We wanted a business intelligence (BI) environment that met all our needs for flexibility and scalability as well as supporting a simple dashboard solution for performance management of our IT systems.”

The Prime Minister's Office
The first step was to select a technology vendor that could deliver a reliable solution in just two months, in time for the next quarter’s performance report. Another critical requirement was to have an Arabic interface for the solution—Arabic is the official language of the UAE. After testing technologies by rival companies such as IBM-owned and Ontario-based Cognos and Finland-based QPR, the PMO chose Microsoft as its project partner.

Lotte Hotel
“The Cognos Powerplay tool, which we used in the past, was too high-priced so it was expensive to upgrade,” says Kim. “SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services had no cost burden and at the same time it was a strong alternative enabling us to easily convert our existing OLAP [online analytical processing] environment, after which we applied reporting tools to create Lotte Hotel’s overall BI [business intelligence] environment.”

some additional Microsoft BI Case Studies


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December 2009 v.32 - Business Intelligence Update



2010 Betas are here, including Office, SharePoint, Project & Visio

PowerPivot Team Blog
Download: PowerPivot for Excel 2010
Blog: The Business User's Perspective

Demo: Extended Outlook - Put your business intelligence reporting inside Microsoft Outlook

CapstoneBI Blog: Analysis Services 2008 Metadata Report Pack

All webcast times are in Eastern Time Zone unless otherwise specified

Beat the Competition with the Power of Analytics
Hosted by Panorama
Dec 3, 2pm
Click here for more info

FEDSPUG December Meeting (Webcast)
Hosted by Microsoft
Dec 3, 2pm
Click here for more info

SharePoint 2010 Preview
Hosted by Gig Werks
Dec 8, 1pm
Click here for more info

Is Your Data Warehousing Project Doomed from the Beginning?
Hosted by B2B Technologies
Dec 10, 12:30pm
Click here for more info

Best Practices for Pervasive BI
Hosted by Strategy Companion
Dec 10, 1pm
Click here for more info

Build More Powerful Solutions with Bing Maps
Hosted by Microsoft
Dec 10, 1pm
Click here for more info

Portfolio Management and Capital Planning with Microsoft Solutions
Hosted by Projility
Dec 12, 1pm
Click here for more info

Looping, Moving Files, and Splitting Data Streams: Intermediate SSIS Tasks for the DBA
Hosted by PASS DW/BI Virtual Chapter, with guest speaker Tim Mitchell
Dec 15, 12pm
Click here to attend

Zero to Cube in 60 minutes
Hosted by PASS DW/BI Virtual Chapter, with guest speaker Adam Jorgensen
Dec 18, 12pm
Click here to attend

The Many-to-Many Compression Algorithm
Hosted by PASS DW/BI Virtual Chapter, with guest speaker Eugene Asahara
Dec 21, 12pm
Click here to attend


SoCal BI User Group - featuring Bob Abernathy of Strategy Companion
Hosted by Xelleration
Dec 3, Irvine, CA
Click here for more info


Deploying, Operating, and Tuning an Analysis Services 2008 Solution
Hosted by Solid Quality Mentors
Feb 1, Minneapolis, MN
Click here for more info

SQL Server 2008 End-to-End Business Intelligence Workshop
Hosted by Solid Quality Mentors
Feb 15, Minneapolis, MN
Click here for more info

Microsoft BI

SQL Server
Business Intelligence: SQL 2005, SQL 2008
Data Mining: SQL 2005, SQL 2008
Whitepaper: New Data Warehouse Scalability Features in SQL Server
Whitepaper: Introducing Microsoft StreamInsight

Blog: Formatting Linked Server MDX Query Results Using CTEs

SharePoint Server 2007
Business Intelligence: Overview, Using BI Features
PerformancePoint: Technical Library
Download PerformancePoint SP2 (64-bit or 32-bit)
Whitepaper: Publishing PerformancePoint Server in Extranet Scenarios
Whitepaper: Accessing large scale ROLAP environments with PerformancePoint 2007

SharePoint Server 2010
Blog: Describing SharePoint 2010 in 1 Sentence, 8 Categories and 40 Feature Areas
Blog: New Features in PerformancePoint 2010
Blog: Excel Services in SharePoint 2010 Feature SupportDashboard Improvements

Office 2010
Blog: Using PowerPivot with Excel 2010

Related BI Resources
Notes from the Field


Microsoft Elevates Mission-Critical Commitment With New SQL Server 2008 R2 Premium Editions, Delivery of November CTP
Bruno Aziza interviews Stephon Elop, President of Microsoft's Business Division

BIDN Launches:  Business Intelligence Developer Network (

Crossing the Chasm II - Departmental to Enterprise BI
Gartner enters into Agreement to Acquire AMR Research, Inc.
Gartner Says Performance Driven Culture Is One of Four Disciplines Required for a Successful Pattern-Based Strategy