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by two different analysts, in two different corners of the world, to
reconcile their reports easily.
They virtually eliminate the need for spreadsheet databases.
They make Excel users much more productive. Users don’t need to
work long hours to crank out yet another version of a standard
report. Instead, these products give analysts the time to think about
their jobs, finding new ways to help their companies succeed.
They give users reliable access to data that the IT department can’t
provide any time soon. Do you want quick and easy access to the
financial data for a new acquisition? Or to external data? Or to
preliminary budgets? Do you want easy access to data in various
databases that don’t talk to each other? The IT department typically
can’t help you. But Excel-friendly OLAPs typically can.
One disadvantage is the need for additional training. Although user
training doesn’t take long, it is necessary. And someone, usually an
Excel power user, needs to know how to update the database,
maintain passwords, and perform other administrative functions.
Another disadvantage is cost. Although Excel-friendly OLAP
products tend to cost much less than Excel-surly products, the cost
still tends to be outside the budgets of most small companies.
Still another potential disadvantage is internal competition. That is,
many companies already own an Excel-surly OLAP product.
However, I know of several companies whose corporate
headquarters purchased Excel-friendly OLAPs even though their
divisions owned Excel-surly ones. In one such company, corporate
analysts generate and distribute thousands of Excel reports each
month from an Excel-friendly system, while their divisions with
Excel-surly OLAPs still use those products.