Today was a mix of some great sessions and some not so great. The best information I got was from the product information booths set up by Microsoft. After the sessions and talking to specialists from the SharePoint, Office and Business Intelligence teams the product map came together for me.
In the sessions today, Microsoft revealed its financial planning and reporting roadmap. The intention is to consolidate Frx, Forecaster and other reporting tools into Management Reporter (MR). Although MR version 1 is released, the MR tool roadmap goes well into 2014. This tells me to stay with the existing reporting tools but invest more in the SQL cubes and queries driving the reports.
Many clients are using SQL server 2008. It has some great features and enhancements in reporting services and data mapping. The SQL server report builder tool has a simple to use interface to map data sources, create views and format reports. The report formatting is slick. This is going to give Business Objects (Crystal Reports) a run for its money. Although SQL Server 2008 is in production many consultants suggest we stay with SQL 2005.
A number of Great Plains reporting templates and data views have been published by Microsoft. This is going empower financial users to leverage Excel for reporting and analysis. I would not under estimate the effort to create and publish the data views for the end users. This will drive companies to train information workers who understand the data and tools to extract, transform, report and publish.