Advocates of business intelligence software have long argued that users' attachment to spreadsheets is one of the biggest hindrances to BI adoption. For many users, spreadsheets provide all the BI capability they need. And if proponents of BI software were completely truthful, they would concede that spreadsheets are not only a data source for BI applications, but often the preferred front-end tool for access to data stored in a BI application.
Making things more interesting, Microsoft's enhanced PowerPivot in the latest edition of Excel 2010 provides a lot of BI functionality. This raises the question of whether this will mean even fewer people will see a need for dedicated BI software or help drive interest in it.
Panorama Software CEO Eynav Azarya is betting on the latter. The company this week released version 6.2 of its NovaView software, which adds tight integration with PowerPivot technology. That's only natural because Microsoft gained access to the OLAP in-memory technology that enables PowerPivot through a deal with Panorama.
The question is to what degree will the rest of the BI community embrace PowerPivot? Clearly, it's a threat on the one hand. But the dominance of Microsoft's spreadsheet software could easily make PowerPivot a BI requirement.
Whatever happens, the tension between spreadsheet proponents and BI advocates is likely to increase over the next few months as more IT organizations become familiar with Excel 2010 and the rest of the Microsoft Office 2010 lineup. But in the end, it's more likely that PowerPivot will become an integral component of just about any total BI solution.