Microsoft releases its BI solution

Microsoft Canada Inc. today launched its Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 product, an enterprise-grade business intelligence (BI) solution designed for small to mid-size businesses.

Ryan Dochuk, product marketing manager for business intelligence at Microsoft Canada, says Microsoft has had a business intelligence vision for nearly nine years. This vision encompasses Microsoft’s goal to provide tools that allow businesses to improve their overall performance by allowing them to make better and faster business-related decisions. Office PerformancePoint Server can plan, analyze, monitor and set targets to better optimize both business processes and practices.

According to Dochuk, BI solutions are typically complicated and expensive to use; however, Microsoft has tried to make its BI solution user-friendly and affordable.

“PerformancePoint Server 2007 is a complete and integrated solution that helps users throughout the planning cycle,” Dochuk said.

Joel Martin, a research analyst at IDC Canada, said the BI market is hot right now, especially in the SMB market segment. Martin says businesses are already starting to feel the crunch between the cost of energy, staff shortages and resources. As a result, businesses are starting to look into BI tools to address these needs.

“The BI market will grow to nearly $400 million within the next five years,” Martin said. “The interest is there and because most people already have the look and feel of Microsoft Office already, customers will want this solution. Microsoft helps to extend the reach out by turning around information into a format where businesses can reduce costs and time.”

Microsoft offers its partners the option of online training for PerformancePoint Server 2007, in addition to the option of attending a partner briefing tour which is set to take place across Canada beginning in Montreal on Oct. 9, 2007 and wrapping up in Ottawa on Oct. 18, 2007. Dochuk explains partners who sell PerformancePoint Server 2007 along with other service and customization options, will also benefit from gaining greater margins.

PerformancePoint Server 2007 offers users simplicity by utilizing a single application to help them better manage their business data and activities. It includes features such as, built-in templates and wizards which allow users to create and share dashboards and scorecards, Web-based analytics that store and give information access to those who need it, when they need it, as well as process management features.

Also set to launch in the second quarter of 2008 is Microsoft’s SQL Server 2008, a platform that promises businesses more security and reliability to help them store business-critical information.

Jean-Louis Marin, chief information officer at GPX International Tire Corp., a supplier of tires for off-road markets and also a Microsoft customer, has already purchased the Microsoft tool because of its affordability.

“We selected Microsoft PerformancePoint Server 2007 because the price point was what we were looking for and also because we wanted our people in the front line to have access to this data,” Marin said. “Using this tool, I can see which products are selling the best, who my top sales people are and I can view our SKUS by grouping and by different tire brands.”

Dennis Brink, vice-president of T4G Ltd., a Toronto-based solution provider and Microsoft partner, said there is a great deal of end-user interest in PerformancePoint Server 2007 starting as early as last year.

“Our BI team has been using this [tool] for over a year,” Brink said. “We like that it builds on the BI platform and that it’s an integrated approach. It works extremely well with other Microsoft applications. We think this will be a tremendous growth curve for us over the next few months because people will be able to see their results faster. With our customers, we’ve seen no hesitancy on their end. Their demand for this product is quickly pulling us into the market and we’re extremely excited to be able to offer opportunity to them.”

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
Staff Writer, Computer Dealer News

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