Is Excel a BI Duct Tape or a Complete BI solution?

Dashboards are increasingly popular as a favorite management tool to measure and analyze past and present performance and potentially discover trends that provide insight into the future. However, dashboards are just the tip of the iceberg of business intelligence, which is a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information.

Recently Forrester released “Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms” which can be accessed here (courtesy of SAS)

The survey considered only those vendors that satisfied the following conditions

  • At least three out of the four major functional BI components: production/operational reporting, ad hoc querying, OLAP, and dashboards.
  • The ability to query databases using SQL and MDX.
  • A self-contained, complete, fully functioning BI environment, i.e. the tool must be a self-contained, complete BI environment or platform that does not have to be necessarily embedded in other applications.
  • Sufficient market presence and interest from Forrester clients, defined as at least 100 in-production customers present in more than one major geographical region, with more than 10 percent enterprise-grade, cross-line-of-business installations with more than 100 users.
  • Significant BI revenues: at least $40 million in BI revenues.

Interestingly Excel can be easily made to fit all of the above conditions but can a Swiss army knife be used for daily Kitchen use? Absolutely not!

Excel does not score well for complex enterprise BI, such as real-time BI, OLAP beyond pivot tables, report formatting and scheduling, unstructured content etc.