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Microsoft Spotlights PerformancePoint

Day Two at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit was nonstop, with wall-to-wall sessions and appointments with industry blue-chip and challengers. Microsoft, IBM, HP, SAS, Cognos and SAP, among others, weighed in the direction of their products and the direction of the industry. You can visit our photo gallery to get the big picture, but I'll drill down on some of the bigger deals here in my blog… starting with Microsoft.
Day Two at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit was nonstop, with wall-to-wall sessions and appointments with industry's blue-chip and challengers. IBM, Microsoft, HP, SAS, SAP, Cognos and others weighed in the direction of their products, the direction of the industry and their take on customer wants and needs. You can visit our photo gallery to get a sense of the event, but I'll drill down on some of the bigger deals here in my blog… starting with Microsoft.

Tuesday's "Driving Pervasive BI and Performance Management" offered Microsoft's vision of taking these technologies and applications enterprisewide. Reflecting on his 13 years at Microsoft and status as "employee one" in the company's BI group, Bill Baker, GM of Office Business Intelligence, said "we're at a tipping point.""Eight years ago, people were talking about complex topics like aggregates and ETL and sparse data," he said. "Today they're asking, how can I take BI enteprisewide to 10,000 or even 30,000 users."

The top execs who make the few strategic decisions have had BI for years, he reasoned, but businesses now want middle managers and operational employees making smarter choices on the many decisions that collectively have a bigger day-to-day impact on the fortunes of a company.

This view play's into Microsoft's Office- and SharePoint-integrated BI strategy, and it led to a demo preview of PerformancePoint Server 2007, which will add planning, budgeting, forecasting and analytics on consolidated corporate information. Baker even detailed pricing, which will be $20,000 per server, $195 per user and $30,000 for an "External Connector" for extranet scenarios. That, of course, does not include the cost of Office 2007 and SharePoint 2007, but perhaps the assumption is you plan to buy those eventually anyway.

Baker then brought Energizer CIO Randy Benz to the podium to describe "the bunny company's" approach to bringing BI to what he called "the difference makers" that make the day-to-day decision.

"If you're going to reach a broader user audience beyond the elite executives, you have to standardize," Benz advised. "We started by standardizing at the source by consolidating our ERP systems… and over the last three years we've standardized on SQL Server and Analysis Services, Integration Services and Reporting Services."

PerformancePoint will "fill critical gaps," Benz said, but Energizer has already developed business planning, profitability analysis and dashboard applications on the combination of ProClarity and PerformancePoint beta software.

"At the end of the summer we'll have to do a little rework [when the final PerformancePoint ships], but we don't think it will be too bad," he said.

Benz said Energizer has already upgraded to SharePoint 2007 and will move to Office 2007 enterprisewide by the end of June, a goal he called "aggressive buy necessary to tap into the latest BI and performance management capabilities."Day Two at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit was nonstop, with wall-to-wall sessions and appointments with industry blue-chip and challengers. Microsoft, IBM, HP, SAS, Cognos and SAP, among others, weighed in the direction of their products and the direction of the industry. You can visit our photo gallery to get the big picture, but I'll drill down on some of the bigger deals here in my blog… starting with Microsoft.