Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is a well known, widely used product for analyzing data from a variety of sources. It provides business user oriented capabilities for data integration, modeling and analyzing data. Users can choose between the installed Windows client, the web client (Office 365) and mobile versions of the software. Data models created with Excel can be published to SQL Server or Azure for reuse and governance purposes.

Microsoft is the world’s largest software company. Founded in 1975 and headquartered in Redmond, it has become a household name, primarily due to its Windows operating system and Office suite. Aside from these products, Microsoft has a vast range of enterprise software and cloud offerings including its own database, browser, various servers and ERP solutions. In recent years, Microsoft has focused its business on cloud-based solutions such as Azure. AI and machine learning have also become increasingly important in product development.

Compared to the huge business the company does in a range of different markets, its BI front end revenues are relatively small. Nevertheless, Microsoft is a strong presence in the BI market and its offering is strategic to complement existing solutions and to drive cloud revenues. In the past, the vendor spread its BI capabilities across the Office, SharePoint and SQL Server product lines, providing tools for formatted reporting, analysis and dashboards. However, in 2015 Microsoft released a dedicated BI and analytics product portfolio called Power BI, which is a data discovery and dashboarding solution. Our product review describes the analysis product Excel.

User & Use Cases

Excel’s customer feedback clearly shows it is a commodity software in enterprises. It is used by more people than traditional BI software because in many cases almost every employee has Microsoft Office installed. As a result, Excel is used on average by 36 percent of employees compared to The BI Survey average of 18 percent. Good availability of skilled users is cited as one of the attractions of Excel, underlining the widespread knowledge of this product.

Excel’s usage demographics are quite impressive, showing ubiquitous adoption of the solution. As Excel is a good ad hoc query solution, it is often used for this purpose. Its flexibility in querying, preparing and visualizing data is also often used to create enterprise reports. Therefore it is not surprising that as many as 39 percent of Excel business users perform model/enrich tasks. After querying data, Excel is often used for visualization purposes as the high rate of use for standard/enterprise reporting shows.

Interestingly – and in contrast to previous years when Excel was frequently evaluated against other Microsoft products – none of its top five rival solutions this year come from Microsoft. This highlights a general trend we have observed in The BI Survey this year: Many customers are now seeking a business power user-oriented solution to help them analyze and visualize data.

Current vs. planned use


5 products most often evaluated in competition with Microsoft Excel


Percentage of employees using Microsoft Excel


Number of users using Microsoft Excel


Tasks carried out with Microsoft Excel by business users


Company size (number of employees)


Want to see the whole picture?

BARC’s Vendor Performance Summary contains an overview of The BI Survey results based on feedback from Microsoft Excel users, accompanied by expert analyst commentary.

Contact us to purchase the Vendor Performance Summary

Microsoft Excel

Peer Groups Ad hoc reporting-focused products, Large international BI vendors, OLAP analysis-focused products
VendorMicrosoft Corporation
Number of responses158
Revenues (2018)USD 126 billion (fiscal year ending June 2019)