Refreshing your Business Intelligence Knowledge

Everyone who works in technology knows that to remain competitive you must constantly learn. However, time does have a degree of escaping people including CS/IT pros. Like all major technological industries, DW/BI is constantly evolving. It does not take long before you realize that your skillset might need a refresher. Below are a handful of books that I found insightful and helpful in continuing my lifelong DW/BI education.

'DW 2.0: The Architecture for the Next Generation of Data Warehousing' By Bill Inmon, Derek Strauss, Genia Neushloss
Whether you come from a more Kimball-like background or Inmon you should consider this book required reading if you are going to continue building data warehouses. While I don't 100% agree with everything said in the manual, the statements made on DW 1.0's failures are hard to not agree with. New challenges facing data warehouses are also covered well within. And if you are planning on working with SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) you should defenitly give it a read. These days I tend to categorize data warehouse deployments by available resources and requirements: 3NF, Star, Hub-and-Spoke. 

'Microsoft SharePoint 2010 PerformancePoint Services Unleashed' By Tim Kashani, Ola Ekdahl, Kevin Beto, and Rachel Vigier
This book is by far the best (and to be honest one of the only books) on PPS 2010. The book guides the reader on a journey of PPS 2010 from start to finish covering all major aspects of the product. From reports to indicators to KPIs, all first class objects are covered. Some of PPS's most challenging and intriguing features are discussed including scoring/banding, configuring time intelligence, and Simple Time Period Specification expressions. At B.I. Voyage we are seeing a huge uptick in requests for PPS 2010 work and thus I would highly recommend picking this one up!

PowerPivot stole the show in recent months since the release of SQL Server 2008 R2. PerformancePoint Services 2010 (PPS) is a solid advance from it's prior version. PPS is now offered natively inside of SharePoint 2010 taking advantage of native sharepoint features such as versioning and service applications. And while planning got the knife there are significant enhancements found in PPS 2010 over 2007 including the Decomposition Tree and enhanced scorecarding capabilities. Dan English does a great job at outlining all of the new features found in PPS 2010 over at his blog . 

'The Kimball Group Reader: Relentlessly Practical Tools for Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence' By Ralph Kimball, Margy Ross, Warren Thornthwaite, Joy Mundy, Bob Becker
Well, when the author is Ralph Kimball what else can one say! I delayed in purchasing this book upon it's initial release because I had heard it was a collection of articles and such a notion didn't resonate with me well. However, since such time I have picked up the book and am happy to say I could not have been more wrong about the book's content and value. The Kimball team does a terrific job at correlating related articles and blog posts together in a logical fasion with some updated content that makes the book a must read.

'Drive Business Performance: Enabling a Culture of Intelligent Execution (Microsoft Executive Leadership Series)' By Bruno Aziza, Joey Fitts, Robert Kaplan, David Norton
Few technologists in the DW/BI industry truly understand how their solutions and works can benefit and change the culture of a modern day enterprise. Bruno and company does an excellent job of connecting the IT dots with the Executive dots and they do so in a manner that is refreshingly easy to comprehend.


Discuss this Blog Entry 2

on Jan 24, 2011
Excellent list Derek!

I would just add 1 to your list that is a nice tie-in to the topics that we cover in this SQL Mag BI Blog, Microsoft BI Data Visualizations. Bart Czernicki's new version of using Silverlight for BI was updated late last year for Silverlight 4:

"Silverlight 4 Business Intelligence Software"

Thx, Mark

on May 12, 2011
Our small organization is starting on a quest to implement a BI Analysis Services solution. I have been task to setup Analysis Services, create a cube via VS 2008, and then access and manage the data through SQL Server 2008 SSRS.

Since I am new to Analysis Services and creating cubes, what would be the best place to start. I am looking into purchasing BI videos to provide a greater understanding of how to begin to setup the solution on a step-by-step basis.

Could you provide some assistance or direction on how I should start the process of implementing Analysis Services and creating cubes?

Thank you in advance for your assistance and support.

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What's SQL Server BI Blog?

Derek Comingore’s, Mark Kromer's, and Jen Underwood's candid look at SQL Server’s Business Intelligence features.


Mark Kromer

Mark Kromer is Microsoft Sr. Program Manager in Azure IM team. Previously: PM, director, manager & architect in the business intelligence, data warehouse and Big Data world for over 20...

Jen Underwood

  Jen Underwood, founder of Impact Analytix, LLC, has 20 years of experience in “hands-on” development of data warehouses, hybrid data integration, reporting, dashboards, and...
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