Investment into Business Intelligence solutions can be a costly and troublesome venture for any organization to take on, especially when it comes to small business with little resources and expertise within the BI arena. But, hope and elucidations are here in the form of a product the majority of computer owners already have installed on their computer, MS-Excel.
One of the prime features of Office 2013, the low cost and big capabilities of Excel makes it especially suitable for small and midsized businesses. It can be used as a simple method of importing and combining data from different sources, forming a foundation for a simple to complex BI strategy.
Fueling the ability for Excel to be used as a BI solution is a tool called PowerPivot. PowerPivot is a free add-in from Microsoft which dramatically expands the power of Excel and converts it into a Self-service BI that enables users with the ability to create powerful analytic solutions. PowerPivot enables the creation of dashboards as a useful data display tool. Users can transform large masses of data from nearly any source rapidly and turning this data into useful and powerful information through leveraging familiar Excel features.
Using MS-Excel businesses can now develop personalized BI dashboards that can display important data such as sales within a specific area during a set period, using graphs and tables that are both interactive and dynamic. For example, a business owner may wish to display a product's sales revenue during a three year period in an easy-to-read format in which the data can be easily tracked in a visual representation.
What are some of the other Business Intelligence capabilities in Excel? Microsoft provides a great deal of features that can be considered BI specific capabilities such as (www.microsoft.com):
- Provides option to organize your data:
- Varity of data sources can be connected in Excel to create tables, reports, charts and dashboards.
- Provides a query tool called Power Query that discovers and combines data from different resources and shapes the data to fit the user’s needs.
- Data models can be developed that contain multiple tables of data form various resources that relationships can be built into.
- Create reports on the fly with power options:
- Quick Analysis can be used to select data and choose different ways to view that data.
- Charts can be created to meet any data visualization requirement within a report.
- Using conditional formatting a scorecard can be developed to track Key Performance Indicators in a Power Pivot to show whether performance is on or off within the tracked metrics.
- Compelling and powerful interactive visualizations can be achieved by using Power View.
- Interactive maps can be developed using Power View. Power Map can also be used to analyze and map data sources on a three dimensional globe.
- Applying filters to dive into meaning content:
- Microsoft Excel has easy to create filters, such as slicers and timeline controls to let users focus on more specific information.
- Ability to explore and analyze data in a more powerful sense:
- MS-Excel can drill into data in a PivotChart report or a PivotTable report that uses data stored in SQL Server Analysis Services or a Data Model by using Quick Explore. User can also use the Field List for a report to determine what information to display.
- Microsoft provides advanced analytical capabilities to Excel:
- Calculated Members and Measures for PivotChart or PivotTable reports that use Analysis Services data within a worksheet and workbook.
- Create calculated fields for various data models.
Business Intelligence & Analytics gives business the insight they need to stay in control, sharpen competitive edge, and focus on the business. Providing the tools to help find the meaning behind customer, transactional, finance, sales performance, and other data, Business Analytics empowers companies both small and big make confident decisions, gain business insight, and make faster, better-informed decisions. Tools like Microsoft Excel and the power add-ons that are available can know provide small business an affordable alternative to big vendor solutions that have been out of reach to many businesses who desire a BI solution. Now go out and built some Business Intelligence that will give your organization the competitive advantage to be successful!