Business Intelligence and Excel

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What is Excel BI

BI analysis are possible in Excel since the release of Microsoft Power Query as an add-in to the software in 2013 (currently it is an integral part of Excel). Analysts received a tool that allowed to significantly simplify and automate the generation of reports. In 2020, the BI Excel ecosystem consists of several additions:

  • Power Query (responsible for ETL processes, i.e. data retrieval and transformation),
  • Power Pivot (data model creation) 
  • PivotTables and Power Map.

Skilful use of BI – Excel add-ons allows extensive and reliable data analysis. Excel’s shortcomings are most noticeable in data visualization, the inability to build dashboards.

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Does Business Intelligence works like Excel?

Business Intelligence systems offers more possibilities than Excel. They allow to conduct more detailed analysis, search for information easily and present results in more effective and transparent way. BI ensures the operation on the integrated data from the whole company and gives high level of safety. Using Business Intelligence system, the company has all the data in one place, not in non-integrated files.

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Is it possible to save objects from Business Intelligence system to an Excel file?

A lot of Business Intelligence systems allow to save the reports results to Excel files. Some of the systems give opportunity to export not only the whole report, but also its individual components, such as tabs, charts, diagrams ect. It is worth asking a question – what for? It makes sense in order to provide the data to external users. Otherwise, the export is superfluous. BI system effectively substitute Excel funcionality and often has more advanced possibilities of data presentation than Excel. (see more: Does Business Intelligence works like Excel?)

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Is it easy to export results from Business Intelligence system to Excel?

All implemented Business Intelligence systems allow to import and export data from Excel – both older and newer versions. Tools used for ETL service have predefined driver to operate .xls and .xlsx files because it is a very common data source.

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Excel BI vs Power BI — what’s the difference?

The Excel add-on for data visualization (Power View) was not a successful solution and Microsoft decided to create an independent software for data analysis and visualization (Power BI), which basically replaces the other add-ons. Similar to Excel, it uses Power Query and models data in DAX (Power Pivot), but the similarities end there. Data visualization, interactive reports and management dashboards are not the only advantages of Power BI over Excel BI. Data can be retrieved from various sources in real time, Microsoft has improved the creation of relationships between tables, supplemented the supported data sources and enabled access to online reports (in the PRO version, it is possible to edit the permission level for different people).

Power BI is a self-service tool, it’s implementation time is  fast (compared to other BI tools), allows for independent data analysis, creating attractive visualizations and does not require specialized skills. Thanks to numerous automation and an interface consistent with Office 365 software learning basic analyzes does not require much work.

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