There have been very few advances with SQL Server Reporting Services in the past few versions but 2016 looks like a significant jump in features making SSRS a competitive option for desktop and mobile users alike.
According to Microsoft’s BI roadmap, their goal is “to put the power of data in the hands of every business and person on the planet”. Their objective is “to serve over a billion users with the Microsoft business intelligence (BI) platform”. It’s a large endeavour in a competitive market with numerous competitive BI offerings available today, but I think this time Microsoft may succeed. Their roadmap includes:
- Harmonizing of report types (KPIs, Paginated reports, Interactive reports, Mobile reports and Analytical reports and charts)
- Leveraging Reporting Services as the on-premises solution for BI report delivery
- Publishing Power BI Desktop Reports on-premises for data discovery and interactive reporting
- Unifying the Mobile BI experience with a single mobile application on Windows, iOS and Android for consumption of all report types
- Creating symmetry across on-premises and cloud by harmonizing offerings and aligning technologies and tools across all parts of the BI platform
The biggest feature that excites me the most is Mobile Reports. Mobile reports are built on Datazen technology that Microsoft acquired earlier in 2015. Information is available anytime, anywhere is a promise BI vendors have been making long before mobile devices were used in any significant way. With the growth in mobile device usage, it’s become increasingly important that information is viewable on a mobile device. Responsive web design certainly works in some instances but not all. Reports that are designed specifically for mobile devices deliver the best user experience especially when viewing reports on phones and small screen tablets. Microsoft has stepped up to the plate with a platform and mobile app designed for that purpose and dynamically adjust the content to fit your screen or browser.
The second biggest feature that excites me is the new Web Portal that replaces the old Report Manager. In the previous version you could browse folders, view, export and print reports. With 2016 you can view all your KPIs, mobile reports and paginated reports in one place with most major browsers: Edge, Internet Explorer 10+, Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
The last set of new features that excites me are the new report themes and styles, new chart types and increased control over parameter prompts. These new features go a long way towards enhancing the ability to create dynamic, parameterized reports.
I have been using the beta for the past month building up a demo site on the new Web Portal and everything looks pretty solid thus far. I am very much looking forward to the release of the final product in 2016.
The next new feature I’ll be taking a deeper dive into is R integration for predictive analytics.