Back
Excel

Office Business Intelligence – The way people experience data

This post is brought to you by Steve Tullis Group Program Manager of the Office Business Intelligence team.

This is the third introductory post from the Excel family – Office BI. If you have not read Jane’s post about the Excel client, or Dan’s post about the browser-based versions of Excel, I encourage you to do so, as they are great overviews and provide foundational information about how we decided in what to invest, and how those investments are manifest in the Excel products. In this post, I will share the Business Intelligence specific story which is designed to provide an end-to-end experience that both empowers end users to have a great conversations with their data, and enables IT to manage the risk inherent with empowered end users.

At the beginning of this product cycle, we started with a fairly simple statement – Empower you to gain insights from your data with proven and familiar Microsoft products that make it easier to work smarter and faster – and feel we’ve not only met the intent of that statement, but, in doing so, have changed the end user BI game. Let me explain . . .

Easy On-Ramp

imageOften, the first step in analyzing and exploring data is the hardest: I have data . . . how do I connect to it? Explore it? Shape it? Format it? Create visualizations based on it? Great questions! The answer is Excel 2013 which has what Jane called in her blog post “More Smarts Built In” – Excel understands your data, and your context, and helps you improve your productivity by:

· Recognizing how you are shaping your data, and suggesting how to finish more quickly with Flash Fill

· Enabling you to quickly and easily preview and apply conditional formatting, suggest and create charts, PivotTables, and tables using Quick Analysis

· Introducing a new way for you to easily navigate multidimensional and tabular data models, and create Trend charts to analyze information over time – Quick Explore.

Essentially, we have removing much of the start-up friction you may have experienced in the past. A few keystrokes and clicks of the mouse to select the best recommended options – and you are well on the way to gaining great insights from your data. And you don’t have to be a professional analyst to get these results.

Integrated and Powerful

I’d like to make a bold statement: In Excel 2013 you now have the only self-service end user BI tool you need. Building on Excel as the foundation, we started by introducing new analysis capabilities such as the Timeline Slicer, calculated OLAP fields, Quick Explore, then extending existing capabilities such allowing Slicers directly on Excel tables.image Not satisfied with that, we integrated the xVelocity in-memory engine directly into Excel – which means the ability to create and manage larger, more complex data models, as well as new features such as PivotTables across multiple Excel tables. Still not satisfied, we integrated the PowerPivot add-in to enable more advanced users to directly manage the in-memory data model. Wait . . . there’s more . . . we then integrated Power View which allows you to create compelling data visualizations designed to be highly interactive– essentially, a new mechanism for beautiful, immersive, ad hoc analysis and reporting, directly in Excel. Together, this means that when you install Excel, it is likely the only self-service end user BI tool you need.

Available Everywhere

And, here’s another bold statement: All data is an Excel experience. You want your data, analysis and exploration when and where you need it. Excel 2013 investments support that:

· End user tools beyond the desktop. We continue our BI related investments in browser-based Excel adding support for query tables, the field list / well to allow re-pivoting of your PivotTable and PivotCharts, etc. We also made sure new investments, such as timeline slicers, xVelocity integration, and Power View integration are also supported via the browser.

· Sharing your analysis and insights. 2013 brings the next release of PerformancePoint Services, further enabling your corporate dashboard and score-card needs. Additionally, enhancements in Excel services allow easier embedding, so you can have your data in its most effective context.

· Easily consume other data. Excel Interactive View, described in Dan’s post, provides a one-click solution which automatically presents data in an interactive view complete with custom filters and charts, bringing the power of Excel to the Web. Learn more on ExcelMashup.com.

These investments take the power of Excel beyond the desktop – viewing, editing, analyzing, exploring, embedding, sharing and consuming enabled for the top browsers and devices on the market.

…With Compliance and Control

For end users, information workers, and BI professionals, this blog post has described amazing new capabilities and opportunities . . . for the IT professional, it has likely raised your stress level: you can just imagine a proliferation of spreadsheets containing corporate data in massive models; essentially less control over data and where and how users are leveraging that data.

image

This section is for you – the IT professional or the corporate compliance manager. We have introduced a new suite of capabilities:

· SpreadSheet Compare, which allows you to compare any two versions of a spreadsheet to see what has changed.

· The Inquire add-in which helps organizations automate inventory, risk management, analysis, auditing, and remediation for critical spreadsheets.

· The Audit and Control Management (ACM) server which discovers, analyzes, and manages critical spreadsheets and ships as part of SharePoint Server

These capabilities are designed to help end users, risk and compliance managers, and IT professionals manage your risk and compliance needs.

Little Need to Ever Leave Excel

Wow. Seems like a lot. And, the info above is just the introduction – future blog posts will provide additional details and examples. But, ultimately, have we changed the end user BI game? I think so. Try it, and I think you’ll agree.

Join the conversation

11 comments
  1. How can I get onto the beta test list for Excel 2013 ?

  2. "But, ultimately, have we changed the end user BI game?"

    Ultimately, IT in large companies determime how BI is handled. Excel is NOT one of their favorite tools. So, if Microsoft will go to those companies and evangelize Excel as the core for BI solutions, then maybe the long-held belief by IT that Excel is only for the lowly workers can be changed. That belief WILL NOT change by itself.

  3. I love the new BI related features. My only request would be to incorporate some additional visualizations, such as bullet charts and GANTT charts. I currently use the excellent Sparkline add-in witten by Fabrice Rimlinger (http://sparklines-excel.blogspot.com.au/) which works great, but as it is done using macros is not supported by Excel Services which is such a shame!

  4. When I read "PivotTables across multiple Excel tables" … does that mean that we can expect also the possibility to make pivottables across multiple SSAS Olap cubes ?

    • The capability to cross multiple olap cubes does not work directly. What you would have to do is use the Powerpivot add-in to create "Flattened" queries against those cubes bring them into independent tables in your data model and then combine. Hope this helps.

  5. Will you post on how to make interactive sales dashboard in Excel?

  6. Aaargh!! My eyes!!
    After finally accepting that 3D charts are not a good way to represent data accurately or usefully and making sure they never get recommended to users, you blow away all my goodwill by having an article ostensibly about BI and plonk a great big screenshot in the middle with an abomination of a 3D pie chart!
    (with this many slices even a flat pie would be almost useless here – what’s wrong with a simple, single colour bar chart?)
    You will never win the hearts and minds of professional people to use Excel as a "serious" BI tool if you keep eroding their confidence that you (as a team) have any real knowledge of what good data visualisation should look like.

Comments are closed.