What is Insights?
As Microsoft says, it’s “BI for Everyone”. Basically, Insights gives you the ability to create KPI lists, charts, and dashboards where users can view and consume real-time business data. Users now have the ability to create custom dashboard layouts and publish them ad-hoc.
What you get?
Self-Service is the key here. Users (with appropriate access and skills) can use the browser to connect to data that is relevant to their role and build dashboards on their own. These dashboards allow users to get a quick view of all relevant metrics, KPI’s, or other business data. Having quick and customized access to this data allows users to quickly view and understand the data that enables them to make timely decisions, day-to-day.
Another plus with Insights is that the data can come from many sources, including SQL Databases, reports, business applications and other sources of relevant data. This allows users to tap into enterprise-wide data sources, giving them that “single version of the truth” that we all strive for.
My favorite benefit to Insights is that all of these dashboards and data connections are made using tools that are already familiar to the end-users. Now, users can take advantage of these productivity tools as “BI Tools”, so things like the browser, and other familiar Microsoft Office Tools, such as Excel, Visio, InfoPath, Word, and Outlook take on new meaning and provide new levels of productivity and intelligence.
SharePoint 2010 introduces Business Connectivity Services (BCS), which allows you to create Applications that connect to external data. These applications – more than just dashboards – allow you to extend the functionality of common Office products and turn them into bi-directional BI Tools (reading, updating and deleting real-time data). Now, the power is truly in the right hands!
What does your business get?
Accountability – Users can now manage their own data and metrics. They can enable themselves to make better more quickly decisions based on this data. What’s more, users can be confident that their data is accurate because it’s coming directly from the data source!
Transparency – With SharePoint and Office 2010, users can now get real-time access to real data. Because the source is shared across the enterprise, everyone can see the same information. If your company is highly regulated (i.e. Finance, Healthcare, Accounting, Legal, etc), you also have built-in manageability of how data is audited and controlled.
Business Standards – Now, you have a centralized platform where you can aggregate a variety of business data sources. Presenting this data can be standardized and formatted in consistent ways to be consumed across the enterprise. The IT group has an easier, more secure method by which to provide the data to the enterprise.
If you want to know more about Insights and see what Microsoft has to say about their latest offerings in this area, take a look at the data sheets and Whitepapers available on the SharePoint 2010 Web Site.