Excel for BI; Good, Evil, or Just The Way It Is?

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Alan Kirk
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Excel for BI; Good, Evil, or Just The Way It Is?

Post by Alan Kirk » Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:37 pm

Regulars may know that I have a somewhat less than glowing opinion of outfits like Gartner. However they do occasionally offer some topics of interest.

http://searchbusinessanalytics.techtarg ... telligence
Gartner BI Summit: Wave the white flag on using Excel for business intelligence

LAS VEGAS -- It’s a staple of business intelligence (BI) and data warehousing conferences: speakers and attendees lamenting the continued existence of spreadmarts and “the kingdom of Excel” as they talk about business users who won’t give up their spreadsheets in favor of the more functional and manageable BI applications installed by their organizations.

But that kind of talk wasn’t heard at Gartner Inc.’s annual Business Intelligence Summit here this week. Instead, Gartner analysts and BI managers said that efforts to stop Excel BI use in its tracks were bound to fail. Their advice: Stop trying and make your peace with Excel as a BI tool.
"You are now entering Well Duh County, have a pleasant stay. King Canute, Mayor"
“No matter what we try to do, I don’t think we can get away from Excel,” said Sri Vemparala, manager of reporting and BI at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Stanford uses applications from several BI platforms, including SAP BusinessObjects, Oracle BI and Oracle Hyperion. But Vemparala said the vast majority of end users – perhaps 90% – take data from the BI tools and export the information to Excel so they can work on it there. Attempting to stamp that out “would be a waste of time,” he added.
The obvious, it blinds!
Sentara Healthcare, a regional healthcare system based in Norfolk, Va., .... has embraced Excel as an approved application for storing and working on BI data, Owens said. Last July, for example, the company deployed a prototype BI system with Excel sitting on top of Microsoft Corp.’s SQL Server Analysis Services software for use by the operating room managers at its hospitals, he said. “We decided that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
That aside, the rest of the article does cover some interesting questions and issues relating to data governance.
"To them, equipment failure is terrifying. To me, it’s 'Tuesday.' "
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