I was browsing through the list of SQL 2008 books today to find one to feature in this issue of the Connector and Pro SQL Server 2008 Analytics: Delivering Sales and Marketing Dashboards caught my eye. There’s no doubt that ‘dashboards’ are a hot commodity these days and while some of that might just be the buzzword of the quarter, there’s also a real need to provide information to business users in a way that people understand.

Often we call that reporting, and the presumption is that reporting is easy, if anything figuring out the query for the report is the hard part. There are definitely reports that work just fine in the plain tabular format, but it’s interesting how displaying the data the right way can lead to a better or faster understanding of what the data means. For example, during the months prior to our European Summit we received a weekly report that was a graph showing the year over year trend along with lines indicating major milestones on each timeline making it very easy to understand.  For the 2009 Summit we get a similar report but in tabular format. It’s the same data, just not as easy to understand.

Business intelligence isn’t just reporting, there is definitely a lot to it and as I assess my own skills I see that without more knowledge of both SSIS and SSAS I’m limiting the solutions I propose – the old saying about when all you have is a hammer all the problems look like nails applies all too well.

Changing topics, I saw that Board member Greg Low just sent out his monthly email to our chapter leaders and included this time is something we’re calling the ‘chapter deck’, a short Powerpoint slide deck that has news and other information from PASS.  Our hope is that this becomes both a tool that is useful and time saving for the chapter leader, but also another way to communicate our messages to prospective members. If you attend a chapter meeting and see it used, let us know what you think!

Have a question about PASS? Email me at andy.warren@sqlpass.org.