Spreading the Wealth

Old ways of working with spreadsheets are giving way to a broad range of online software and services meant to either extend the capabilities of basic spreadsheet programs or to obviate the need for them.

The new tools add sharing, automation and data analysis functions to existing spreadsheet applications. Some customers are turning to other tools, including CRM and analytics software, to supplement or replace their spreadsheets.

Here are just a few of the companies either adding functionality to Excel or trying to chip away at its user base. (Other products -- including Smartsheet, SugarCRM, SAS's Enterprise Business Intelligence Server and Host Analytics' Budget -- are explained more fully in the main story.)

Product name: BIRT Spreadsheet

Actuate's BIRT open-source software allows enterprises to automate and centralize the production, maintenance, archiving and security of spreadsheets. It also promises to promote version control and eliminate siloing of Excel workbook data.

Pricing: Parts of this product can be downloaded at no charge. For other pieces, pricing starts at $500 per user, with unlimited user CPU pricing starting at $52,000.

Product name: Analyzer XL

This software suite feeds Excel with data such as end-of-day prices for stocks, indexes, mutual funds and futures on a regular basis. It also provides 15-minute-delayed and real-time quotes for stocks, options, indexes, futures and other securities from more than 50 markets worldwide. In addition, there are 165 technical and analysis functions, indicators and experts included that help automatically build charts and create macros.

Pricing: $99.95

Product name: Quantrix Modeler

Quantrix says that its business modeling and analytics software suite can be used in place of Excel. Among other things, the vendor claims that Quantrix Modeler offers speedy responses to queries, quickly identifies errors and centralizes data to eliminate silos.

Pricing: Starts at $329 for standard edition.

Product name: BadBlue Enterprise Edition

A server-based package that allows companies to share Excel spreadsheets over the Web and perform full-text searches. It also lets users share Word and Access files via the Web, among other functions.

Pricing: $59.99

Product name: Cognos TM1

This enterprise planning software from IBM interfaces with Microsoft Excel to create real-time, customized analyses, forecasts and budgets. It features integrated scorecards and multi-user reporting capability.

Pricing: Prices vary depending on the edition you choose and the features you need. "Modeler" prices start at $13,900; "Contributor" prices start at $100.

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