Microsoft has made many improvements to the BI features of Excel with its most recent release, Excel 2010. There are a lot of people using these new features to create very interesting dashboards with Excel 2010.

One of the new features that jumps out at you is Sparklines. The initial reaction to sparklines from many people is, “that’s neat, but how can I use it?” The best way to get an idea of what they can be used for is to consider a user scenario.

Consider you are a Sales VP that needs to compare sales trends for the trailing twelve months across many products or regions. You don’t want a grid full of numbers cluttering your display, since trends and anomalies are hard to spot. And even though visual graphs are best to portray trends you do not want to show dozens of large graphs, since that gets unwieldy.

The answer lies in the effective use of Sparklines. My colleague, Russ Tront, recently gave a demo on how to solve the above scenario at the recent Kscope ODTUG Conference late last month. He used Excel 2010 connected to a live Oracle OLAP database using Simba's innovative MDX Provider for Oracle OLAP.

We have made a recording of the demo available, as well as the associated conference white paper which gives additional background on this and other new BI features of Excel.

What kinds of dashboards are you creating Excel with Oracle OLAP?