Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, was founded in 1975 and has become a household name primarily due to its Windows operating system and Office suite. The vendor has a broad enterprise offering too, ranging from cloud (Azure) to database to its ERP products
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.
Microsoft was among the first vendors to focus on providing cloud-based solutions for analytics, a path later followed by several competitors. Azure is used by numerous companies as a cloud computing platform and for storing large amounts of data, putting Microsoft in a comfortable position to offer integrated analytics front ends.
Today, Microsoft concentrates its core BI and analytics capabilities in Power BI and brings in tools and capabilities from Microsoft Azure such as Azure Data Explorer and Azure ML for specific usage scenarios. Power BI is a cloud-based analytics product consisting of Power BI Desktop (a full client for data preparation, dashboards and analysis) and Power BI Service (a web application for content publishing and sharing). It is an interactive tool for data visualization geared at enabling business users to analyze data and share insights predominantly via dashboards. Power BI Premium offers dedicated capacity, which is especially useful in large deployments.
This product review describes the analysis product Excel. Microsoft Power BI is covered separately in The BI & Analytics Survey 23.
User & Use Cases
Customer feedback clearly shows that Excel is a commodity software in enterprises. It is used on average by 38 percent of employees compared to The BI & Analytics Survey 23 average of 21 percent. Good availability of skilled users is cited as one of the main attractions of Excel, underlining the widespread knowledge of this product.
The usage demographics are quite impressive, revealing ubiquitous adoption. As Excel is a good ad hoc query solution targeted at business users, it is often used for this purpose. Its flexibility in querying, preparing and visualizing data is also often harnessed to create enterprise reports. Therefore, it is not surprising that as many as 74 percent of Excel business users prepare data. It is also often used for visualization purposes, as shown by the high rate of use for report creation.
73 percent of respondents claim to use Excel for planning. This is striking as there are no specialized planning functions such as workflow management and versioning or functionality for the handling of new planning elements. But, as always, Excel is available and you can do almost anything with it – even if only 18 percent said that its coverage of BI/analytics-specific requirements was one of the main reasons why they decided to buy the product.
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)
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