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on 11 January 2013
This book aims itself at any level of experience, and as such the first two chapters give a detailed vendor-agnostic explanation of terms and general business intelligence (BI) overview. This is helpful, but as the book itself acknowledges, it is not a business book but rather a BI book - so you may need to enlist others to help fill in this knowledge. The initial explanations help to get you into the book gently so that you are not initially lost. The book includes exercises to help you learn from doing rather than simply reading, and assumes you have the software available to you.

It's a shame that the publisher has elected not to make the samples available to download as this really does impact the ability of the reader to follow the exercises through (as referenced spread-sheets etc. are not available, so a level of imagination must be used). This decision was obviously taken after the book was written as it expects you to have the samples. The author of chapters 8,10,11,12 and 13 Stacia Misner should however be commended as she has made a copy available on her site, [...]which alleviates this difficulty for those chapters.

Whilst it is recommended that you start by reading the first two chapters to provide a basic understanding of the concepts and terminology, the remainder of the book can to an extent be dipped into according to your need. The next chapters work through each component of the Microsoft BI stack in turn, then the remainder of the book helps you choose which part(s) of the stack are most suited to your environment, and how to implement, maintain and secure them together for the longer term. There is also a handy reference of chart types and their availability in the various Microsoft BI tools at the back of the book.

Being aimed at all levels, this book would work well for a technical analyst as well as a DBA looking to implement a reporting solution, and provides everything from sorting grouping and conditional formatting in Excel through to a Sharepoint/SSAS enterprise solution. It would be an ideal choice for a technically savvy IT manager looking to adopt a reporting solution, as it presents an overall view of the reporting landscape rather that concentrating on a single way of accomplishing a solution, thus allowing a choice to be made by the reader as to the best use of their resource to meet their need. The level of gentle introduction to a concept is helpful to beginners, although these concepts are quickly built upon to allow the breadth of content to be covered. It is however definitely written with the enterprise environment in mind (indeed, certain parts of the stack are only available in enterprise versions of the software). I also like the realistic approach, understanding that many organisations have disparate sources for data, and it is not all already in a data-mart ready for reporting - it may be in many formats, including non-Microsoft data products. Although this book was written specifically for Office 2010 and SQL 2008R2, the authors point out specific areas where these have changed from previous versions, allowing those on an earlier version and considering an upgrade to evaluate the worth of this decision.

This is a well-rounded and informative book which I would recommend if you are looking to implement a business information reporting system in your environment.

My review copy was provided free of charge to the SQL South West User Group, of which I am a member.
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