For Microsoft Excel business users, there’s a new, affordable option when it comes to selecting a suitable business intelligence (BI) tool. There’s no longer a need to buy more expensive software from the likes of Cognos, Brio and Business Objects – you can now get it all for less than £500. Just launched globally, ‘IntelligentApps 4excel’ is fully integrated with Microsoft Excel. It allows users to build and deliver powerful modelling and management reporting applications (budgeting, forecasting, etc) much faster than before. How? The software exploits Microsoft’s Analysis Servers support for local multidimensional cubes. Thus the need for multiple worksheets, workbooks and macros is dramatically reduced, making the applications easier to maintain and share with colleagues. Ian Rawlings, vp marketing, explains: “It’s really a new menu and wizard built into Excel that helps you build multi dimensional analytical applications in minutes that would usually take weeks of effort.” As well as giving users a familiar Excel face to work with, IntelligentApps is very affordable for both large and small businesses, whatever the industry. The basic version of the software is just £99, up to £499 for the professional version (for larger scale database applications), and a free version can be downloaded from their website (www.intelligentapps.com). Rawlings: “We’ve got 25 customers already, including Siemens Medical in the UK, but we expect to get many more smaller-sized customers in the manufacturing sector.” The software is currently integrated with Excel, but users will be able to buy the ‘IntelligentApps 4sqlserver’ version in October this year. Then users will be able to publish their personal applications to each other via SQL Server. And functionality – does this match with the big BI vendors? “There’s nothing Cognos does that we can’t do,” boasts Rawlings. “I’ve been in the BI software industry for more than 10 years now, and IntelligentApps is a lot more robust and reliable than other BI tools.”