Selecting the Right Microsoft Reporting & Data Visualization Tool

Since my own blog partner is calling me out I figured its time to get blogging!

As a tribute to Rob Collie and his outstanding PowerPivot blog found at , I figured it was now my turn to do a ‘movie post’. I’ve never watched Citizen Kane; however Dorothy is a distant ancestor, she is probably not too happy with me right now!

Similar to how Dorothy is appearing engaged with the puzzle in front of her, Microsoft developers today are as perplexed and confused regarding which reporting and data visualization tool is appropriate for their reporting needs as they ever have been. As Microsoft continues to expand its reporting and data visualization capabilities the tool head count keeps growing, with the latest entry being PowerPivot. As Mark mentioned, one of our core tenants in this series of posts is to demonstrate how you can quickly and easily build enterprise-quality dashboards without the need for in-depth custom programming. The good news, as we’ve demonstrated, is that every Microsoft reporting toolset provides the ability to construct awesome data visualizations without time consuming programming for a moderate percentage of their usage.

Picking the Right Data Visualization Tool

Microsoft provides us with a large variety of reporting tools, each positioned uniquely for a specific visualization. The Microsoft reporting toolsets do overlap to varying degrees where as some visualizations should be built with one particular tool. For example, scorecards should be built with PerformancePoint Services regardless of who is creating it. Below is a brief review of the available Microsoft reporting and data visualizations tools with their supported visualizations:

Picking the Right Data Visualization Tool by Author

Not only is the proper reporting tool important based upon your intended visualization but equally important is who is going to be creating the report. All Microsoft reporting tools can be used by IT Professionals with a subset of them being specifically developed with the Information Worker in mind. Below is a brief review of the available Microsoft reporting and data visualizations tools with their primary visualizations by primary type of author:

Pick the Right Tool for the Right Job

As you can see, there is some pretty clear delineation as to which tool should be used for a particular reporting requirement. All of these tools facilitate rapid data visualization without in-depth programming being required for a moderate percentage of their usage. As Microsoft continues to expand its business intelligence capabilities more tools and products are certain to appear but with each arrival come a primary type of visualization and author.

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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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