XLCubed: Providing flexible and intuitive client tools for Microsoft BI

Gary Crawford, COO
Microsoft provides good BI client tools which demo well, including Excel, Power BI, Reporting Services and SharePoint. However, many of these ‘out of the box’ tools can disappoint both Enterprise and SME users with numerous restrictions which hamper their potential and acceptance. Headquartered in Maidenhead, UK, XLCubed helps clients overcome these challenges by providing enhanced flexibility, functionality and performance in both Excel and the Web. “Our products improve the front-end user experience, and address the challenges of self-service users who want to deliver a rich interactive experience without restrictions, and without programming” says Gary Crawford, COO, XLCubed.

XLCubed Excel Edition works in any version of Excel, extending its strengths and mitigating the weaknesses while fully leveraging SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS). It facilitates highly formatted custom reports, interactive dashboards, and powerful data discovery. For widespread deployment, Excel authored data-connected reports can be published to XLCubed Web in seconds.

XLCubed Web gives customers interactive browser and mobile access to reporting along with scheduled multi-channel delivery. It also provides intuitive ad-hoc query and analytics for large communities of web based users. The Web Edition is provided as a standalone portal, or can be tightly embedded in SharePoint or custom applications.

In data visualization we’ve been inspired by field experts like Edward Tufte and Stephen Few. We extend Excel with interactive, business effective charts including small multiples, treemaps, mapping, bullet graphs and in-cell charting. “Our charting extensions help users see trends, patterns and outliers in their data, and ultimately to make better business decisions.” says Crawford.

In one implementation, XLCubed helped its customer, Marshalls, replaced a legacy ProClarity solution which was preventing an upgrade of core systems, and restricting reporting efficiency.Marshalls were keen to leverage their investments in SQL Server and Analysis Services, and to provide a better fit to how the business users actually worked.
XLCubed in Excel provided the flexibility they needed to handle their complex hierarchies and deliver improved business analysis and reporting, ultimately increasing ROI. XLCubed Web enabled automation of the management team’s key daily dashboards and other distributed reports. The success of the management dashboard project and strong user acceptance led to Marshalls rolling out XLCubed to around 500 business users.

The success of embedding XLCubed in custom applications has led to increased demand from Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) customers. XLCubed recently extended the interoperability of their products to enable two-way interaction. This helps OEM partners provide in-context deep-dive analytics from the core of their own applications, meaning specific application functionality is one-click away from any XLCubed content.

With a continuous eye on innovation, XLCubed were quick to introduce optimized access to the in-memory tabular side of SSAS, in terms of both user experience and performance. The company’s products give users straightforward and consistent reporting across ALL differing versions and deployment models of SSAS. “We bring those benefits to any customer irrespective of their versions of Office and SQL,” says Crawford.


Our products address the BI challenges of self-service users who want to deliver a rich interactive experience without restrictions, and without programming


Moving forward, XLCubed will provide support for additional data platforms beginning with SAP HANA next month, but perhaps most interesting is a new area of development slated for v9 later this year. “We are adding a new reporting model which we believe bridges the gap between simple data discovery and the more complex integration challenges many customers face” concludes Crawford.

Company
XLCubed

Headquarters
Maidenhead, UK

Management
Gary Crawford, COO

Description
Provides business user focused BI tools in both Excel and Web which help Corporate and Midsize customers increase their ROI on the Microsoft BI Platform.