With the release of SharePoint 2016, one fact has become crystal clear – how you use SharePoint for Business Intelligence (BI) depends strictly on the version you have at your disposal. From SP 2010, Microsoft has been steadily shuffling features around, putting in new stuff, and often eliminating old features. The result? For a sizable fraction of the user community, SharePoint remains a baffling mystery to be solved by Watson alone, with Sherlock vehemently refusing to get involved. Let's see if we can make things a bit easier, by taking a look at the various components of SP that you can use for BI processes, across different versions of the core software suite.
Chart Web Part
This used to be such a nifty tool in SP 2010, until Microsoft decided to ax it in the following version. Available as an out of the box web part with the Enterprise Edition, it allowed the user to build different kinds of charts from SP lists, Microsoft Excel workbooks and various other data sources. While its (untimely?) Demise became the reason for sadness among many business users across the globe, one good thing about it is that you can still use it in SP 2013, provided you are upgrading the SP 2010 Enterprise Edition. Simply export a project that uses the Chart Web Part from 2010 to 2013, and the web part will be exported too.
Excel BI, Power View, and Power Map
Office 2010 onwards, Microsoft has been injecting the humble Excel with progressing stronger steroid shots, so to speak, and Office 2016 onwards, Excel has become a juggernaut you can reliably get on with your eyes closed. While versions prior to Excel 2010 only have access to basic reporting and charting facilities, SP 2010 brought in the ability of data modeling, which in later versions evolved into Power View, and then Power Map, all designed to help you delve and deeper into data. Given that you have the option to seamlessly connect SP with Excel, this feature progress can only lead to good things.
There was a time when this was a third party utility, till Microsoft bought it and integrated it with SP 2010. Thereafter, it has stayed with SP, helping users build feature rich dashboards with KPIs, not to mention detailed reports and charts. What's more – they can serve as data sources for SQL Analysis Services (SSAS) and support drill down, along with other data operations.
SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
When it comes to building traditional reports or dashboards, few can outshine the formidable SSRS, which Microsoft has integrated with SP quite a few versions ago. Since then, it has been receiving minor upgrades with every version, turning out to be quite an asset for business users. Also, when it is installed in Integrated mode, it can load reports directly to an SP page.
SQL Power Pivot or SP Power Pivot Gallery
Using this tool means licensing the BI or Enterprise SKU for SQL Server and also installing additional upgrades on the SP servers. However, once that is over, the tool lets you browse and load books from Excel to SharePoint with Power Pivot data models, with the help of special features and libraries.
Third party charting solutions
SharePoint's BI capabilities have been increasing rapidly since the 2010 version of the suite. In future versions, these capabilities can only be expected to become even more powerful, as well as convenient for users.