Continuing my series of 5 Things the ‘Pro Wants You to Know (About the Show)

#2: If it isn’t SharePoint, it isn’t Microsoft BI

Another one of those things that’s been creeping up on us with no formal announcement (until the conference, and even then only in a few places).  Every MS team that builds BI tools has, over the past couple of years, decided to embrace SharePoint.  Excel Services was first, then Reporting Services offered it as a mode, PerformancePoint jumped in, then PowerPivot… 

I might have some of the timeline mixed up, but the point is that this was a series of organic, independent decisions.  There wasn’t some edict coming down from on high.  One by one, each team decided it made sense to embrace SharePoint.

And because of this bottom-up nature, there was no one central team/person/marketer to trumpet the shift.  We’re starting to say it, but in my opinion, we need to be a bit louder about it.

So, let me say it loud and clear:  SharePoint is now the Microsoft BI platform.  I seriously doubt you will see much, if anything, come out of Redmond that’s BI-focused and not integrated with SharePoint.

If you’re a BI pro, start learning about SharePoint.  If you’re a SharePoint pro, start learning about BI.

#3:  A lot of SharePoint admins already “get” BI

Donald Farmer had a conflict, so I offered to take his Tuesday morning 9-10:30 shift at the PowerPivot booth.  10:30 rolled around, and I was having so much fun that I stayed the rest of the day.  At one point I had to ask someone to bring me lunch, which I ate standing up.

Knowing that this was a SharePoint conference and not a SQL/BI conference, when people first showed up at the booth, I made a point of asking about their background, their exposure to BI, etc.

And while I only met a couple of real BI pros during the day, I was very pleasantly surprised at the overall level of BI awareness.  A few high-level impressions:

  1. Reporting – everyone knows about the need for published, interactive data, and is already doing at least one project on SharePoint.
  2. The notion of “central” BI vs. “business unit” BI – I’d say about half the folks dropping by already were at least peripherally aware of this breakdown and tension, and the other half were quick to understand it.
  3. Cubes – again, about half were familiar with what cubes are, and the purpose they serve, and the other half picked it up awfully fast.
  4. General BI Awareness – near-100% awareness of what BI means and what the products offerings are.  A little confusion about “when do I use this vs. that” but it wouldn’t be a Microsoft conference if I didn’t field that question multiple times an hour 🙂

It’s a recurring theme:  customers are ahead of where I expected them to be.