Business Intelligence is one of the fastest growing spheres in information technology so it is no surprise that Microsoft are pouring a lot of time, money and effort into getting it right. Since analysing data quickly and efficiently is at the core of BI, Excel is one of the programs in Microsoft's Office suite that really benefits from this committed approach.

One of the major new advances in Business Intelligence aimed specifically at Excel 2010 is PowerPivot, a plug-in that allows the user to access vast swathes of data whilst at the same time analysing this data automatically for trends and patterns.

PowerPivot has been hailed as one of the best things ever to happen to Microsoft Excel, which is high praise considering the ground breaking impact that the program has had down the years. This claim is largely based upon the fact that it doesn't attempt to re-envision Excel or make wildly unrealistic changes to what is a much loved industry standard.

The beauty of PowerPivot is that it enhances the features already present in Microsoft Excel that users find most valuable to their business practice. For example the issue of workbook size has been quite prevalent in recent years with Microsoft expanding their workbook capacity dramatically for the 2007 version of Excel. PowerPivot raises the bar even higher; now it is possible to have practically limitless amounts of data in one spreadsheet meaning that entire company accounts could be easily housed in one window.

And whilst it is true that this data would be stored in a dedicated PowerPivot window this new window possesses the same functionality and aesthetics as the Excel workbook and is tied to a real Excel workbook in any case. Another advantage of this mind-boggling capacity is that it eliminates the need for keeping individual spreadsheets on sets of data and the hassle of porting spreadsheet logic.

Another area where PowerPivot excels (pun fully intended) is in data analysis. One of the more tiresome aspects of Microsoft Excel is its inability to swiftly merge different sets of data into one spreadsheet without the need for VLOOKUP, a lengthy process which drastically increases the time spent analysing data.

With PowerPivot it is a straightforward matter to mesh two sets of data into one new pivot table with all the relevant information in one field list. Essentially you just create a match between the two sets of data and PowerPivot recognises their inter-relationship. Even if a match has not been made it is still possible to join the data sets together into a single Pivot Table; PowerPivot will just warn you before you attempt to do it.

By creating limitless workbooks and eliminating the need for VLOOKUP, PowerPivot has truly revolutionized both Microsoft Excel and Business Intelligence and it would be crazy for any business professional to get left behind. Therefore it is highly recommended to undertake a course on PowerPivot so that you can fully experience the astonishing changes to your working life that this remarkable development represents.