The “staggering” influence of Excel

Data Integration versus ETL
December 8, 2006
HP on the acquisition trail in information management
December 13, 2006
Data Integration versus ETL
December 8, 2006
HP on the acquisition trail in information management
December 13, 2006
Show all

The “staggering” influence of Excel

You know what am I always saying about data shadow systems and the reign of Excel, right? Here’s what Forrester says in a recent white paper:

Excel_2003_1 “The influence of the spreadsheet on BI is staggering. Once believed to be the antithesis of BI solutions by both the vendors and many end users, the spreadsheet has become a focal point for vendors’ development and a paradox for IT. Business users now demand to have data delivered by BI analytic reporting tools into a spreadsheet, either as an Excel plug-in, a spreadsheet knockoff, or an integrated solution that seamlessly passes data and metadata directly from the BI tool into a spreadsheet. Whichever approach your organization takes, the bottom line is that spreadsheets will be a big part of your BI solution going forward.”

This is from their paper, Business Intelligence Driven By Compliance, Standardization, And Performance Initiatives (PDF).

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here’s what I’ve been saying about this:

Diplomatically dealing with Excel in the enterprise 

Microsoft Excel – The King of BI

Shedding Light on Data Shadow Systems 

The Data Shadow System Conundrum

Data Shadow System Assessments

I may not always agree with Forrester’s predictions, but in this case I agree that Excel is not going away no matter how cool the new business intelligence tools are. Even when a large enterprise has purchased many business intelligence tool licenses their business users are probably still using Microsoft Excel as their "real" business intelligence tool.


  1. you should check out a uk startup called clusterseven. they use SQLServer as a difference store, to allow you to track and manage changes across Excel – enabling policy across distributed Excel data. v interesting. if i were MS i would buy them right now and make the functionality part of office system

  2. Rick Sherman says:

    I took a look at their website
    Rick Sherman

  3. james defrank says:

    Yellowfin’s Web based reporting is rapidly becoming the popular BI appliance that Asian and European software vendors are integrating into their core software systems to roll out to non-traditional BI users.
    It will not beat Excel for simple data manipulations but offers users easy and fast access to complex data sets within the company.
    On their roadmap they have mentioned the possibility of extending into Excel based data sets in the future.
    As a developer its nice to work with too …

  4. AaronZ says:

    Personally, I think the growth in dashboards and other visualization tools (generally included in BI tools) is a huge advantage – especially when the tools can be rolled out to a wider audience than ‘executive management’. FYI, Gartner just released their latest Magic Quadrant on BI Tools. Integration with Microsoft Office (including Excel of course) is part of their evaluation. I have a link to it on my site.

  5. sarah says:

    Another system well worth a look is ComplyXL from Lyquidity. They enable change management, and version control for spreadsheets. Plus ComplyXL can be applied as a desktop solution, which can be downloaded for users to try, as well as providing an enterprise system. Unlike most other providers, prices are on the website. Plus comes with additional tools such as formula viewer.

  6. sarah says:

    Sorry, I meant to put Lyquidity’s url – – and if you want to see presentations of how they manage spreadsheet control go to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *