Spreadsheets — the most widely used business intelligence (BI) tool — are a permanent fixture in enterprises because no other analytical application outperforms them in flexibility, ease of use, and ubiquity. Spreadsheets’ role in BI is no longer limited to simple import/export mechanisms; they now play an integral role in all layers of the BI stack. Yet the lack of controls and security and integrity issues create tremendous challenges. To minimize risks while gaining the inherent BI value of spreadsheets, information and knowledge management professionals must discriminate between the different ways spreadsheets are used. Then, they must help users apply advanced spreadsheet tools and techniques to their daily jobs, while also implementing a tightly controlled (or closely monitored) environment for critical production processes that rely on spreadsheet data. In turn, vendors should take advantage of this market opportunity by introducing tools that will bridge the gap between spreadsheet management and spreadsheet usage in the BI process.
Microsoft Excel is most likely the most widely used BI tool in the world …
Microsoft has made a good next step by introducing Excel Services.
Excel Services is a Microsoft Office SharePoint technology that makes it simple to use, share, secure, and manage Microsoft Office Excel 2007 workbooks (.xslx, xslb) as interactive reports in a consistent way throughout the enterprise.
Check here for more detail on the Excel Services architecture