Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced the release of the first community technology preview (CTP) for its integrated performance management application Microsoft(R) Office PerformancePoint(TM) Server 2007. Scheduled for general availability in mid-2007, Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 brings together next-generation monitoring, analytics and planning capabilities in a complete performance management application. Beginning today, customers can visit http://connect.microsoft.com/site/sitehome.aspx?siteid=181 to download the first bits of code and test the product’s capabilities in a real-world business environment.
Office PerformancePoint Server CTP 1 will combine the planning, budgeting, forecasting and financial consolidation capabilities of the product code-named “BizSharp” and the scorecarding functionality of Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager Server 2005. CTP 2, scheduled for early 2007, will incorporate the functionality of CTP 1 and analytics from ProClarity(R) 6.2. Microsoft plans to release either one or two additional CTPs before the general availability of the product scheduled for mid-2007.
“We continue to invest in our business intelligence solution to bridge the gap between people and the information needed to drive business success,” said Chris Capossela, corporate vice president of Microsoft Business Division. “Today’s milestone brings us one step closer to our goal of enabling decision support and superior performance management across the enterprise.”
Office PerformancePoint Server CTP Available for Download
The CTP process provides an opportunity for customers, partners and Microsoft to collaborate on the validation of the product strategy, implementation and road map through an array of activities focused on building better software together. Beginning today, users can download the CTP by visiting http://connect.microsoft.com/site/sitehome.aspx?siteid=181 . Also on this site, registrants will have access to training materials and peer-to-peer news groups. They can even register there to qualify for private training sessions.
TAP Customer Reports of Success
A Microsoft Technology Adoption Program (TAP) for Office PerformancePoint Server 2007, which includes participants from Global 2000 companies as well as midsize businesses and spans numerous industries, has been under way since April 2006.
“We believe PerformancePoint Server 2007 has the potential to combine the familiarity of Excel(R) with a disciplined, rule-driven, centrally managed environment to meet a number of planning and reporting needs across the business,” said Brenda Jansen, director of Business Analysis Services & Support for Energizer. “The idea of enabling performance management among all of our employees to advance the goals and objectives of the business was also particularly appealing. We’re in the early stages of testing, but we’re impressed with the ability to integrate our strategic business planning processes with our specific field account level planning and budgeting.”
Industry partners are also reporting strong momentum around the performance management application, citing the fact that functionality is delivered in front-end tools such as Microsoft Excel and other Microsoft Office products, and that customers are able to use and expand their existing Microsoft IT investments that include SQL Server(TM), the Windows Server(R) operating system and Office SharePoint(R) Portal Server.
“The same business customers that have historically rejected unfamiliar third-party budgeting, planning and analysis tools are embracing PerformancePoint Server 2007 because they can now do meaningful planning and analysis with the user interface common to all business users: Excel,” said Scott Stein, business intelligence (BI) practice director at Avanade. “This has a significant positive impact on CIOs in large organizations struggling to drive standards and unify the 10 to 15 different performance management and custom business intelligence technologies across the enterprise.”
“The revolutionary PerformancePoint Server 2007 is a collection of incredibly powerful monitoring, analytics and planning tools built on SQL Server and Microsoft Office,” said Per Solli, CEO of Solver Inc. “By integrating some of the best of Microsoft technologies, business users will now finally be able exploit the power of a centralized data repository while performing their planning and analytics in Excel. PerformancePoint Server unites two critical paradigms: ‘one version of the truth’ and ‘information at the end-user’s fingertips.'”
In addition, Microsoft’s Corporate Finance department implemented Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 for revenue forecasting earlier this year.
Pervasive Performance Management
With PerformancePoint Server, Microsoft aims to bring performance management to all employees in an organization — not just a small percentage of BI power users or financial analysts — to help companies better manage their business.
“Visibility of performance information is critical to decision support, but in many organizations much of this information is accessible by finance and not operations,” said Kathleen Wilhide, research director at IDC. “Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 delivers integrated performance management information into the desktop tools that both finance and operations workers use every day, and with an attractive per-user price point, has the potential to enable truly pervasive performance management.”
More information about Microsoft’s complete and integrated BI solution can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/performancepoint