Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Pivoting and Business Intelligence

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The term "Pivot" just used to be perceived as a small functionality before a couple of years. Over the period of time, it is quite amazing to see how this term has took so much importance in the industry.

Pivoting has made it's journey over the period of time that can evidently be seen in smaller steps. Firstly, it used to be mostly limited to pivot tables that used to exist in Excel. This slowly became one of the key functionality that addicted business users with Microsoft Excel. Office Web Component (OWC) which also contained this functionality, became very popular and started to make it's place in stand-alone and distributed applications.

Sensing the need for the same in database development, Microsoft introduced PIVOT and UNPIVOT operators in T-SQL with SQL Server 2005. This made queries much easier for developers, which used be a lengthy and complex piece of code used to creating resultsets that were typically consumed by some cross-tab reports. SQL Server Analysis Services 2005 (SSAS) cube browsing also got facilitated by using OWC.

Sensing a feature/characteristic of pivoting to aggregate huge information, project Gemini was started which finally resulted into what we know today as PowerPivot. It can aggregate i.e. pivot and analyse huge data from a variety of sources using engine of SSAS and interface of Microsoft Excel and looks very promising with its charting and analysis capabilities. Also it seems like Microsoft plans to go big in this direction, as Microsoft has set up a dedicated lab kind of research setup for pivoting known as Microsoft Livelabs Pivot.

Importance of pivoting is not just recognized by Microsoft, but other industry vendors are also making their move in this direction to get their slice of business. Infragistics has announced release of their Silverlight Data Visualization CTP which consits of two basic controls : OLAP Pivot Grid and Data Chart. OLAP Pivot Grid fetches data from analysis services using ADOMD and visualizations generated by it can be compared to that of Dundas Charts and others.

It seems like Pivoting is turning out to be new big business arena that has not been exploited to the best of its potential.

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