Business intelligence (BI) is what you get when you analyze raw data and turn that information into actionable knowledge. BI can help an organization identify cost-cutting opportunities, uncover new business opportunities, recognize changing business environments, identify data anomalies, and create widely accessible reports.

The BI concept is overtaking corporate executives who are eager to turn impossible amounts of data into useful knowledge. As a result of this trend, software vendors who focus on BI and build dashboards are coming out of the woodwork. Dashboards are ideal mechanisms for delivering this targeted information in a graphical, user-friendly form. New consulting firms touting their BI knowledge are popping up virtually every week. And even the traditional enterprise solution providers like Business Objects and SAP are offering new BI capabilities presented in a dashboard format.

So maybe you've been hit with dashboard fever? Or maybe you are holding this book because someone is asking you to create BI solutions (that is, create a dashboard) in Excel.

Although many IT managers would scoff at the thought of using Excel as a BI tool to create your dashboard, Excel is inherently part of the enterprise BI tool portfolio. Whether IT managers are keen to acknowledge it or not, most of the data analysis and reporting done in business today is done by using a spreadsheet program. We see several significant reasons to use Excel as the platform for your dashboards ...

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