BI in Excel and Excel Services

Business intelligence (BI) is all about bringing together data and turning it into meaningful information that people can use to make better business decisions. Just in case you didn’t already know, Excel 2013 includes a lot of exciting new BI capabilities, such as the following:

  • Timeline controls that enable people to view information for a range of time
  • Flash Fill functionality that enables you to manipulate strings of information without having to use complicated formulas
  • Quick Analysis functionality that enables people to select a range of data and see suggested chart types for that data, making it easier and faster than ever before to create reports

Those are just a few great features. Excel is loaded with capabilities that enable you to create powerful reports, scorecards, and dashboards, such as the example dashboard shown below. See What’s New in Excel for more details.

Screenshot of example Excel Services dashboard


Once you’ve created your BI content, you’ll probably want to share it with others. And that’s where Excel Services (which comes with SharePoint Server 2013) and Excel Web App (part of Office Web Apps Server) come into play. These applications enable you to share workbooks that people can view and interact with in a browser window.

Your organization might be using SharePoint Server 2013, Office Web Apps Server 2013, or both to share Office documents with others. However, when it comes to displaying a workbook in a browser window, your organization is using either Excel Services (SharePoint Server) or Excel Web App (Office Web Apps Server)—not both. A SharePoint administrator makes the call, and it’s a farm-wide decision. And that decision affects which BI capabilities are available to you when you’re viewing a workbook in a browser window. Excel Web App enables you to edit a workbook in a browser window, but it does not support workbooks that contain a Data Model or Power View reports. Excel Services enables you to view workbooks that contain a Data Model, Power View reports, external data refresh, and lots of other BI capabilities in a browser window.

Want to learn more?

We have detailed documentation that covers all of this. See the following resources:

Tell us what you think!

We’re always interested in customer feedback. Feel free to use the Comments feature of this blog to tell us what you think. We take all feedback into consideration as we continue to improve the quality of our content. And we’ll pass along comments about product features to our product teams for their consideration. And Happy Dashboarding!

Denise Stendera

Writer, Excel Services