IN THIS CHAPTER
Understanding the benefits of ad-hoc data analysis
Building connections to both relational and multidimensional data
Sorting, filtering, and reviewing relational data in Excel tables
Discovering data relationships and trends using PivotTables and PivotCharts
Taking analysis to the next level using data mining add-ins
Using data mining to detect erroneous data based only on data set patterns
Forecasting time series data based on historical trends
Reporting Services provides a method to create reports that expose trends, exceptions, and other important aspects of data stored in SQL Server. Reports can be created with a level of interactivity, but even the most interactive reports limit how the end-user interacts with the data.
Using Microsoft Excel to analyze data gives users much greater flexibility and interactivity. Because Excel is in common use and most staff already know how to use at least the basic features, it also lowers the training hurdles that prospective users face. This enables a much larger audience to undertake data analysis, so they won't have to make do with canned reports.
The advantage of data analysis is the ability to discover trends and relationships that are not obvious, and to look at data in ways and combinations not normally performed. Ad-hoc analysis is also a good way to quickly prototype reports, enabling report development to happen once requirements are well understood. With the addition of data mining features ...