Sage Intelligence at Sage Summit: Why Excel is such a key component of BI for SMEs

What is Excel and what is it used for? Probably the most prolific business tool in the world, Excel is used to create and format workbooks that house data in a format that can be analyzed and used to make business decisions. Specifically, you can use Excel to track data, build models for analyzing data, write formulas to perform calculations on that data, pivot the data in numerous ways, and present data in a variety of professional looking charts.


 Scatter Plot graphs are one of the most common types of graph used in Excel, easily displaying Top 5 vs. Bottom 5 items

So what is Business Intelligence (BI)? BI is the methodical use of information about your company and its business environment to analyze, report, predict, and manage business performance. Is this not what Excel has always done for Business? Microsoft Excel provides more power for general business management than any other BI system I know, but its unstructured use can cause spreadsheet chaos in an organization. The importing of data into Microsoft Excel and manual spreadsheet creation and maintenance is both time-consuming and open to human error, as is the insecure sharing of this information amongst colleagues. Excel as a stand-alone application therefore does not suffice as a BI solution, but it is a powerful decision support tool when integrated and used within a structured framework.

What makes Excel so dominant? It’s globally used, it’s practically on all PCs; there are no extra costs; it’s easy to learn; it does the data manipulation, analysis and graphical representations required for most reporting. Excel already has enough momentum that many people would still use spreadsheets for much of their reporting and analysis tasks even if they had access to “high end” BI software. But lack of control over spreadsheets—and the accuracy of data they contain—can risk the quality of decision-making.. Sage Intelligence Reporting is an example of a BI tool that eliminates this“loose Excel” spreadsheet use, by delivering a single version of the truth in the familiar environment of  Microsoft Excel at the click of button, with no manual intervention.


 Profit and Loss information is easy to Analyze in Excel

Why is Excel a key component of BI for SMEs? BI systems must be agile; an agile system allows users, not programmers, to change reports in a few minutes. Excel is a familiar user interface; it allows users to create new reports easily and quickly. Excel has many spreadsheet functions, solving capabilities, and the ability to contain virtually any data. PivotTable reports provide an interactive way to quickly summarize large amounts of data; PivotTable reports allow you to query, filter, sort, subtotal, drill down and group large amounts of data in many user-friendly ways.

For many years BI vendors have been building front-end tools to try to replace spreadsheets for querying, reporting and analyzing data results. However Excel spreadsheets are still the most universal and leading tool for business reporting. Sage Intelligence Reporting delivers data from a Sage ERP or accounting database via a structured and secure environment into Microsoft Excel report templates. The power of Excel can then be leveraged to analyze and share the data and make informed business decisions.

Join us for the Beginner & Intermediate Excel sessions at Sage Summit 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee, to experience this powerful software in action, or pop round to the Sage Intelligence booth (624) to find out more.


 Trendlines enable you to grasp the trend of your data. With this data visualization tool you can help your audience to understand the crux of the datasheet by visually conveying them what data actually means, and most importantly help them to comprehend the trend of your datasheet.