Excel and SQL may spell trouble for business intelligence vendors

Excel and SQL may spell trouble for business intelligence vendors

Summary: One of the more interesting technology battles this year (and probably 2008) will pit Microsoft's Office 2007 coupled with SQL Server 2005 against established business intelligence players. Business intelligence is by far one of the more interesting--and important--software categories in the enterprise space.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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One of the more interesting technology battles this year (and probably 2008) will pit Microsoft's Office 2007 coupled with SQL Server 2005 against established business intelligence players.

Business intelligence is by far one of the more interesting--and important--software categories in the enterprise space. After all, CIOs can spend millions on revamping business processes and investing in enterprise applications, but if a wide range of folks can't analyze critical data the effort is wasted. Simply put, you can spend a lot on IT and get a ROI goose egg without business intelligence software.

That fact is part of the reason companies like Cognos and Business Objects are successful. But the party may be about to end. In about a year there may be no better time to squeeze your favorite business intelligence software supplier.

Why? Excel 2007 will add a lot of business intelligence (BI) tools. Coupled with Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services and the software giant could be dangerous to business intelligence players.

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This Excel/SQL combo-as-BI tool pitch has been bubbling up within Microsoft for years. However, the launch of Office 2007 is the first effort to really pitch Microsoft's spreadsheet program as a BI application. Indeed, a visit to the Excel Developer Portal finds plenty of BI mentions.

Brendan Barnicle, an analyst at Pacific Crest, noted in a Jan. 3 research report that:

"Excel 2007 will be the first version of Excel to interface easily with SQL Server's Analysis Services. This means that anyone running Excel 2007 will be able to access various databases and compile BI reports from Excel."

Barnicle reckons that Microsoft's encroachment into the BI space "could further commoditize the BI market."

At the most risk is Business Objects' Crystal Decisions software, says Barnicle. Business Objects' Crystal Decisions had an OEM agreement with Microsoft, but the software giant is now offering BI functions directly.

The Excel as low-end BI tool satisfies a few Microsoft goals. For starters, it moves Office upstream and away from Web efforts from the likes of Google. Microsoft has also been moving upstream in enterprise applications overall. It's a slow process, but those smaller companies that Microsoft caters to will grow and pull Redmond's applications along.

While Office 2007's interface may mean more training for companies, the BI argument may make the upgrade argument easier to digest. We'll see as the year unfolds.

Topic: Microsoft

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6 comments
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  • Voting busted

    So... two of the options are at 50% and another one is at 6... Someone feel like explaining?
    moonchacha
  • It's not even close

    Folks, if you are serious about BIRT check out what Eclipse offers [url=http://www.eclipse.org/birt/phoenix/]here.[/url]

    Who is this BIRT anyhow? ;)
    D T Schmitz
    • Not even close?

      SQL Server with third party reporting is already used NOW. SQL 2005 simply removes the need for those third party tools.
      toadlife
  • SQL Server is still buggy

    Not sure many corporations will use it for business intelligence..
    sweklaweklfwe@...
    • Examples?

      We already use it for business intelligence...and many other mission critical things. SQL server is something we've never had problems with. It just works.

      Do have any examples of SQL Server being "buggy", or do you just not like Microsoft?
      toadlife
  • RE: Excel and SQL may spell trouble for business intelligence vendors

    Interesting article. I think the flexibility and massive useage of Excel will attract many more businesses going forward to using this combination in building BI applications. So many people are confortable with working in Excel and it is easy to customize and extend.

    On a releated note, just released a new Freeware Excel Add-in that combines Excel power with ODBC database power. Please take a look at it here if you are interested in this area - http://www.sqlexcel.net It is a genuine freeware add-in that will work with Excel 2000 and more recent versions of Excel. It will work with Oracle, SQL Server and any other data source which has ODBC drivers.
    Thanks, Al
    al_dublin