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CHAPTER 1
CHAPTER
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Introduction to Microsoft Office BI Concepts

IN THIS CHAPTER

The Scope of the Book The Book’s Purpose Setting the Stage Chapter Content

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T his book is written for the business user, as well as for the information worker who would like to see working examples of the many features of business intelligence that we’ve heard about or seen. The chapters do not

describe server operating system or database configurations in detail, but they do provide screenshots and exact descriptions to facilitate a comprehensive understand- ing of the server-based technology in the context of Microsoft Office 2007 as an end-user business intelligence toolset. This book should help everyone understand

the “moving parts” of Microsoft Business Intelligence to be able to use reporting, analysis, and measurement in everyday work.

The Scope of the Book

Perhaps the first challenge of working with BI is to understand how different parts of the technology relate to each other, and work together in a “BI solution.” This book will show you the details of how PivotTables work, for example—and show you where it is located on a map of Microsoft BI components. The following image will be used throughout the book with a “You are here!” notation to provide a sense of where the chapter pieces fit in the Microsoft Office and SQL Server technologies.

here!” notation to provide a sense of where the chapter pieces fit in the Microsoft Office

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The Book’s Purpose

If this book succeeds at one thing, it will be to introduce you to all aspects of Microsoft Business Intelligence, from back-end SQL Server servers to front-end Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Visio, and Word, in both stand-alone and collaborative SharePoint environments—using desktop and Windows Mobile Smartphone technologies. We will “push the envelope” with chapters on SQL Server data mining and PerformancePoint.

Setting the Stage

Today we live in a self-service world. We don’t give a second thought to pumping our own gas or using an ATM to withdraw money from our bank account. And we’ve gained a comfort level with computers so that most of us use them practically without thinking. The standing joke when VCRs first came on the market was that anyone could set up their VCR—just put tape over the flashing display. Now special tools have been developed to block programs because even young children know how to access—and probably record—whatever they want. We’re comfortable with taking care of our own needs, both physical and mental. We like being independent and being able to get things done at the time it suits us. So why should business intelligence be any different? Business intelligence used to conjure up visions of highly sophisticated calculations for financial or data modeling, resulting in stacks of reports streaming out of mainframe printers onto carts that were trundled around to the analysts’ offices, sequestered somewhere on the top floor, to be interpreted for the rest of the workforce. Next came the era of the spreadsheet, which certainly put informational tools at the fingertips of a much broader range of personnel. And most of us today use spreadsheets in some form as easily as we use word processing or e-mail. We’ve learned that keeping our own information at the ready is more productive and portable, and we’ve started down the road of personal business intelligence, possibly without even realizing we’ve done so. With the advent of the Internet, information exploded into our lives. The world is now online, at our fingertips whenever we need it, and the only thing that may stand in our way is an Internet connection that’s temporarily down for repairs. We can walk into an Internet café in almost any part of the world

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with modern conveniences and “log on.” So now that we can access even more information, both from our internal data sources and external connections, how do we make the best use of all that information? And how do we manage to pick out the information we actually want, organize it, and put it to practical use in our everyday lives? This book is designed to help; with the concepts described you can leverage your comfort with technology—particularly the new Microsoft Office 2007—to learn how to gather, organize, and utilize information to improve your daily performance in your job, and throughout the various aspects of your life, where having the right information in a useful format at the opportune moment will make a positive difference. Today, you can enjoy self-service business intelligence.

Chapter Content

Every chapter can be read or referenced in a stand-alone manner because everything you need is contained in the chapter. The figures are captioned to help you scan the pages and find areas of interest using the figures as a graphical guide. Also, every chapter provides a BEST REFERENCE URL: “For further research on this topic, go to xxxxx”. This is to help the reader quickly find the Internet resource the author found most helpful for the subject matter at hand.

Chapter 2: Excel PivotTables

This chapter provides a thorough exploration of PivotTables in Excel 2007, which is arguably the most popular business intelligence tool of all. The Microsoft Redmond Excel team put a lot of effort into making PivotTables a “mainstream Office experience” in Office 2007, and when combined with conditional formatting, the results are impressive. The benefit of learning to work with PivotTables is immediate: you can use the interactive nature of a PivotTable and PivotChart to produce different displays of your data with automatic cross-tab subtotaling—which is much more flexible than the usual static spreadsheet rows and columns.

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Chapter 3: Excel Tables

This chapter provides a complete exploration of Excel 2007 tables, which were known as Excel lists in previous versions of Office. As you’ll see, data can be organized into sorted columns that make sense—and with data filters that make it easy to narrow the data visualization. This is perhaps the quickest way to work with data in Excel today; and whatever else we may think, “a million rows in Excel 2007” is something every Office user can appreciate.

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The benefit of tables is that they are so easy and fast—you can create an Excel table in minutes to work with columns of data. It’s simply a better “spreadsheet”!

columns of data. It’s simply a better “spreadsheet”! Chapter 4: Excel and External Data Let’s face

Chapter 4: Excel and External Data

Let’s face it, Excel is most often used with self-contained spreadsheets of data that business users have manually copied or entered from other sources. But what if we could connect Excel 2007, with its new million-row capability, to all kinds of external data both inside and outside our organizations? The result is shown in this chapter with many working examples of what it means to bring live data into Excel. The benefit is that connecting to external data will empower you in your everyday work, whether the external data is on your desktop computer, somewhere in your organization, or out on the Internet. You don’t have to wait for someone to get the data for you when you can simply use Excel’s “Office Data Connection” features to get it yourself.

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Chapter 5: SharePoint 2007 Dashboards and Reports

First of all, we need to say that SharePoint 2007 “is not the same as previous versions of SharePoint.” SharePoint has reached a point of maturity with the 2007 version that actually makes it attractive and useful without endless customer programming! SharePoint is becoming the third ubiquitous Microsoft technology that we see everywhere, in addition to Windows and Office. When we add Office Excel Services to SharePoint we get “collaborative business intelligence,” which, as we’ll see, makes complete good sense in today’s connected world of Microsoft Office application users. Frankly, the dashboards, reports, and Key Performance Indicators in SharePoint are compelling and can answer the business intelligence requirements of most organizations today.

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The benefit of SharePoint BI is that it gets all of us “working on the same sheet of music.” You don’t have to e-mail the latest spreadsheet to everyone when, instead, you simply update the central copy of it on the SharePoint server. This chapter will teach you how to do this!

server. This chapter will teach you how to do this! Chapter 6: Data Mining Okay, so

Chapter 6: Data Mining

Okay, so data mining is the ultimate “geek technology” that no one ever really sees in the working world. But what if we could present advanced SQL Server data mining statistical algorithms in Excel 2007? The results are amazing and just might succeed in getting Office knowledge workers to make use of true “data clustering” and “regression forecasting” analysis with Excel spreadsheet data! The benefit of being able to connect to data mining really comes down to being able to discover clusters of data that, for whatever reason, affect each other and are the most significant parts of your data story. It just makes sense that we should be able to use the power of Excel to do this with huge spreadsheets—and this chapter proves that it’s easy.

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Chapter 7: PerformancePoint

Microsoft is aiming for the high end of enterprise business intelligence with PerformancePoint, which is really two technologies rolled into one server— monitoring and analysis, and planning (MAP). Together the technologies answer the “MAP” needs of geographically dispersed organizations that need to automate their Excel spreadsheet business processes with a server-based model that leverages Excel 2007. The benefit of PerformancePoint is that it’s a better scorecard for the enterprise than any other product on the market because it’s built for the SharePoint environment. It’s a great product from the Microsoft Office group with Office updates and support, and it can scale across the largest organizations in the world.

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Chapter 8: All the Other Microsoft BI Pieces

This is the “show and tell” chapter where we can provide working examples that really get everyone thinking about “BI for the masses,” which is the central vision of Microsoft Business Intelligence. It’s a fast-running and wide-ranging series of discussions that jump from Outlook to PowerPoint and Visio—grounded in a SharePoint environment that reaches to Windows Mobile Smartphone devices. The core foundation of SQL Server Integration Services, Analysis Services, and Reporting Services is explained in high-level terms. And finally, Microsoft’s Virtual Earth is connected to Excel 2007 data in a quick working example of “geo-spatial BI”!

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The benefit of seeing all these other Microsoft BI pieces is that you know they are real (not just something from a commercial); and in this chapter you’ll learn what is involved in getting them to your desktop or Windows Mobile Smartphone. Also, the SQL Server foundation sections are a great way to understand Microsoft’s BI server, which can be harnessed to provide reporting, analysis, and measurement for all of us with whatever end-user tools we choose.

can be harnessed to provide reporting, analysis, and measurement for all of us with whatever end-user