One issue that regularly confounds supporters of business intelligence (BI) software has been the general lack of adoption. BI software clearly adds value, but end users have been loath to give up their spreadsheets in favor of richer BI applications that are often difficult to master. To solve this issue, some have argued that what was really needed was a less expensive approach to deploying BI applications using open source or software-as-a-service applications.
But what if the real problem is that users want the functionality of a BI application embedded inside the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet they already know how to use? When you take a good look at what Microsoft is really up to in Excel 2010, it becomes pretty apparent that the equivalent of a data mart is being baked into the application using OLAP database technology that Microsoft bought from Panorama Software. That means that rather than exporting data from Excel to another business intelligence application, Microsoft is positioning Excel as the underlying “database” that BI applications will be layered on using technology that is now marketed under the name SQL Server Analysis Services.
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