I recently came across an impressive Excel 2013 Add-In that I recall first seeing a few years ago for an older version of Excel while in Data Mining class at UCSD. This new Excel 2013 Add-In happens to be an early adopter in migrating from old world Excel Add-In and VBA frameworks to the modern Microsoft Windows Azure and Apps for Office framework. The solution is called Frontline Systems Solver. This Solver is advanced – it not exactly the same thing as the basic Excel Solver that I mention at the end of this article. This advanced analytics Excel Solver offering can leverage Excel data, Excel Power Pivot data, and data stored in relational databases. It works with stand-alone Excel and also has an Excel Web App on Office 365 or SharePoint 2013. It is a very hot, must check it out type solution for analytics lovers on Office 2013 or Office 365 needing a lot more than basic Excel Solver intelligence. This much better Solver App is located within the Data Visualization + BI category App listing in the Office Store. It is priced from free to $995 for a basic offering to $5,495 for the Analytic Solver Platform.
Some of the advanced analytics features in this advanced Solver app that caught my eye included:
Time Series Forecasting with classical regression, exponential smoothing, and ARIMA models.
Data Mining for Predictions with XLMiner include regression trees, k-nearest neighbors, neural networks, naive bayes, principal components, k-means clustering, hierarchial clustering, and neural nets.
Conventional Optimization, Stochastic Optimization, and Prescriptive Analytics with Premium Solver Pro to better allocate scarce resources or evaluate decision options in uncertain scenarios. They also have linear, nonlinear, quadratic, and mixed integer programming. To ease development of some of the complex models, a wizard can be used.
Risk Analysis with Monte Carlo Simulation and Decision Trees with Risk Solver.
There is also an SDK for application developers to integrate these features into their applications. This embedded analytics is the type of thing that we will see in the near future for sure! The Solver Server has APIs for standard web service calls, SOAP and WSDL protocols.
For someone wanting to take analytics to the next level and needing much more than the current out-of-the-box Excel What-If analysis options: 1) Scenarios, 2) Data Tables, and 3) Goal Seek 4) Excel’s Basic Solver, an add-in to Excel that allows for more variables or 5) the dated SQL Server Data Mining Add-Ins for Excel that are NOT live data supported in SharePoint 2013 or Excel 2013 – Frontline Systems Solver may just be your analytics dream come true and worth a test drive.