Adding Data Insights to Your SharePoint Environment

One of the lessons we’ve learned about creating successful intranets is that the content and data should be relevant to the user, and whenever possible, dynamic. For SharePoint, that means treating it as a living, breathing system – and not a static billboard or expensive file share. One way to accomplish this is to surface data insights within Team and Communication sites, allowing people to not only view the content and data, but to also interact with the insights within that data.

After sitting in an all-day workshop on PowerBI last week (thank you JourneyTEAM for inviting me!), it got me thinking about how difficult it can be to uncover those valuable business insights – and then act on them. Most organizations struggle with this – moving from raw data to insights is more than simply understanding the technology. It takes time to clean up your data, normalize it, and then figure out how to get the most out of it. Of course, PowerBI is incredibly powerful, and can be a great way to allow anyone within your company to leverage this important business asset — and PowerBI truly does help you to democratize your data. However, understanding how a tool works does not make us all data scientists. Thankfully, there are partners out there who can help.

Pre-Built Solutions for SharePoint

I recently became familiar with Collabion DataParts for SharePoint, a solution geared toward business users that allows you to quickly build interactive charts, data grids, and dashboards to help you surface your critical business data within SharePoint (2010, 2013, and 2016). Using a solution like Collabion will provide your organization with a number of immediate benefits:

  • Decreases Time-to-Value: The value of data can decrease over time, so being able to surface the right data at the right time is essential to innovation. The easy-to-understand visualizations help employees to infer insights much more quickly.
  • Supports Discovery: No single report or pre-configured dashboard will meet the needs of every employee. Features like drill downs, data grids, grouping, pivoting, and other methods for “slicing and dicing” allows end users to play around with their data, potentially unlocking new key insights.
  • Dynamic Updates: With real-time updates, your end users won’t need to recreate the charts over and over again – which means your SharePoint sites are always up-to-date and relevant, as well.
  • Everything is Share-able: So much of modern collaboration is about giving people the ability to share content and ideas and conversations with people outside of the current working group. Easy sharing and exporting options lets anyone on the team be a part of the discussion – when authorized by a member of the team, of course.
  • Personalized Dashboards: And finally, people want a single-version-of-the-truth when it comes to data. Building a dashboard with various out-of-the-box chart types and custom branding gives your employees a single-view for all of the data points that are relevant to their project – but with the ability to adjust parameters and get that personalized view, when needed.

Collabion Sales Dashboard

Creating Self-Service IT

While PowerBI remains a powerful option for data analysis, what I love about solutions like Collabion is that it was designed for business users, and can dramatically speed up your ability to find value in your data. It’s another example of the build-or-buy IT dilemma: do you spend weeks or months to build out the dashboard capabilities you need, or deploy a pre-built solution with a point-and-click wizard that helps you quickly build charts and dashboards from any data source in SharePoint, without waiting for IT and without having to write any code?

 

Collabion dashboard example

If you’re interested in learning more about Collabion, take a look at their website and three live demo dashboards – giving you a great perspective on what is possible with their DataParts for SharePoint. These demos include a Sales Dashboard, an Inventory Management Dashboard, and a Healthcare Dashboard.

If you’re planning to attend SharePointFest DC next week, and would like a live demo or to ask questions, the team from Collabion will be attending — and giving out a 60-day free trial license to all attendees. Feel free to reach out to me, and I’d be happy to put you in touch with them.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and fractional-CMO for revealit.io, tyGraph, and Extranet User Manager.