Microsoft will demonstrate how it's moving its flagship productivity suite into new areas with the Nov. 1 arrival of a new business-intelligence server called Business Scorecard Manager. The product works with Microsoft's SharePoint portal server and number-crunching online analytical-processing tool to give PC users updated business-performance metrics in areas such as sales, investments, manufacturing, and quality.
Longer term, Microsoft plans to build into Excel and SharePoint Portal Server the ability to deliver live data from Oracle, SAP, and its Dynamics apps to the desktop; publish spreadsheets to the Web; and alert business managers when key numbers cross important thresholds. Those features are slated for Office 12, due in a year. The plans--along with the Nov. 7 release of a new version of SQL Server that boasts enhanced analysis capabilities--move Microsoft closer to its goal of putting data-analysis tools on every business PC.
"The potential is huge," IDC analyst Dan Vesset says of the prospect of workers being equipped with data-analysis tools. IDC puts the business-intelligence software market at $4.5 billion and growing 10% a year.
Microsoft will sell Business Scorecard Manager for a fraction of the price of analysis software from companies such as Business Objects, Cognos, Hyperion Solutions, and SAS Institute, and its minimal-programming approach could save customers consulting costs as well. "Microsoft will do more than outgrow the market; Microsoft will transform the market," Raikes predicts. "Business intelligence is expensive, inconvenient, and hard to use."