Last week I was briefed by Microsoft about the new BI features of Office 2013, in particular the Customer Preview version of Excel 2013. It was an interesting update from the Redmond software giant as it once again demonstrated how the company is banking on the ubiquity, familiarity and potential of Excel to increase its wider appeal and position it as an industrial strength self service data analysis and BI reporting tool.
You can read my full review and analysis in this briefing note. It’s free to download, you’ll just need to log in with a free account. If you don’t have one already it only takes a minute to register, and is even quicker if you have a LinkedIn account.
In my briefing note you’ll find out more about how I think Microsoft hopes to entice users to move to Excel 2013. A cursory analysis would suggest that the user interface isn’t markedly different from the one in Excel 2010; instead the most noticeable difference is that there’s a greater emphasis on making the BI capabilities—specifically PowerPivot and Power View—more tightly integrated within Excel rather than have them operate as separate functions or features. In addition to these changes Microsoft has introduced two new 2013 features designed to make it easier for end users get to grips with the data in their spreadsheet quickly—you can read about these in my analysis.
While these features in combination help recast Excel as a more heavy weight BI analysis tool rather than just a desktop writing, spreadsheet and publishing tool they also need to placed in context of Microsoft’s self-service BI vision.This vision entails granting end users more analytical autonomy—for instance by being able to model and mash up business data—but one that doesn’t do this at the expense of IT management, control and governance.
As we know, getting this balancing act right is one of the biggest challenges facing organisations who want to push BI out to a larger business audience. However, organisations subscribing to Microsoft’s view should also be aware that this isn’t something that can be accomplished through Excel 2013 alone. You can find out what other components within the Microsoft BI stack you’ll need to commit to in my full briefing note.
Take a look and let me know what you think—will you be upgrading to Excel 2013?