One of the areas in which SharePoint is really seeing explosive growth is business intelligence. SharePoint, that is, as a portal into multiple data sources where users can pull information from the sources of their choice and put it all together into a dashboard, on the fly.

“Users want to build things and use things where they are,” said John Crupi, the CTO of JackBe, a company known for its mash-up technology that is now moving into business intelligence. Microsoft, he said, had a nice business-intelligence story with PerformancePoint, but now, he says, its business-intelligence solution is PowerPivot, PowerView and SQL Server.

“They still don’t appear to have a cohesive product story around it all,” he said. “BI in SharePoint shouldn’t be limited to SQL Server. If you’re all Microsoft, it’s great, and BCS was a way to connect to other systems, but that breaks down when you move outside Microsoft’s ecosystem. There are big issues when connecting to other systems.”

If you’re connecting to SAP or Siebel, for instance, Crupi said this can be accomplished with single sign-on. If, however, you need access to an enterprise system with its own identity models, if you have to log into their portal from your portal, people just won’t use it, he said. And as we all know, software that isn’t used has no real value, no matter how elegant the code or interface.

— David