While it’s not a full-fledged business intelligence program, xlCubed is an interesting add-on for organizations that are heavily Microsoft BI shops. With the heavy investment Microsoft is making into PowerPivot, it will be interesting to see where this tool can keep fitting in, although it can definitely be a useful addition to a sophisticated Excel user. For organization that were heavy into ProClarity and PerformancePoint, it could be a good transition technology.

The biggest selling point with this software is its ability to connect seamlessly to Analysis Services cubes. They are among the best tools for using that data source to build dashboards with a variety of visualizations. In the last few years they have been aggressive at acquiring smaller charting companies like MicroCharts.

Its been able to gain some market share, if for no other reason than Microsoft sunsetting the ProClarity product, which left a definite gap in the dashboard solution for MSFT Bi data. While you can use straight Excel it definitely lacks in the graphs and charts area. For hard-core SSAS users, they’ll want a better solution.

A tool like this can be a nice way to give users in-memory performance with the flexibility of standard Excel usage. Since its an add-in, little additional training or rollout support would be required. It also fills in, to an extent, for the retired PerformancePoint toolset with the PM specific solution. With the web version, users can also publish out their dashboards to the web.

Although Powerpivot has been added to the Excel, Sharepoint, and SQL BI stack, we can see this tool being used along it fairly easily. A common scenario would be a user using Powerpivot to create a specific dataset, using the built in formula syntax. It can connect to Powerpivot data, and would allow for a nice accompanying dashboard to be built.

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