Monday, July 26, 2010

Panorama Novaview with Powerpivot for NON managed self-service BI

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Recently, someone made me aware about an interesting article titled "Powerpivot & Analysis Services - The value of both" authored by Panorama Software product manager. This article explains how Analysis Services can be useful for enterprise to model the analytical solution for their known requirements and how Powerpivot becomes helpful to extend the analytical solution by self-service. It also states how Novaview can help business users to build similar to the capabilities and potential of Performancepoint Services i.e. build KPIs, charts, etc.

If I think of a poor man's analytical BI solution, I would think about the cost. Cost can be gauged in terms of expensive licenses of feature rich editions, and IT staff required to facilitate and maintain the BI solution for volatile needs of the business users. PPS is a part of Enterprise Edition of Sharepoint 2010. Also this does not fall in the category of self-service BI, as a business user cannot be expected to develop a dashboard using PPS. A economic recipe of a poor man's analytical solution can be to use Powerpivot as a data source ( by building cubes using powerpivot ) as well as analysis engine too for front-end tools like Novaview. This can eliminate the need for Sharepoint 2010 Enterprise Edition and one can use Sharepoint Foundation Edition too for collaboration of deliverables developed using tools like Novaview. This is the first part of the savings.

Second part of the savings can come from the fact that these tools are claimed to be easy to learn and targeted to be used by business users than the IT services providers. So the dependency on IT Staff to manage and extend the solution becomes less, which effectively translates to savings.

Of course, these tools cannot be a complete replacement for Sharepoint 2010. But if you need a middle path where you want the BI services to build just few Dashboards / KPIs / Charts by business users, at the same time you do not want to invest into Sharepoint 2010 as you might not be sure that you would exploit the full potential of services like PPS, Excel Services, Visio Services and others, Powerpivot with Novaview can be one of the options to try out. Powerpivot is managed self-service BI tool, but by adding a layer with tools like Novaview and using Powerpivot as a data-source, the managed quotient can be reduced to a fair extent. I would not stress on which kind of enterprises would benefit from this recipe of solution, but I am sure that there are enterprises who would want to start slowly and steadily before they hire a full fledged IT Staff or a Solution providing vendor to design a huge enterprise class analytical solution using tools like SSAS and Sharepoint 2010 Enterprise Edition. Those enterprises should give a thought on this recipe.

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