So I met one of the founders of Tableau Software last fall and played around with their trial software over the Christmas holiday. I ended up purchasing the software this month because I found it truly amazing that it can connect to Excel, Access, SQL, Analysis Services, Hyperion and many others and use this great drag and drop interface to do trend and causal analysis.
There is a lot of power within the interface, but they hide the complexity and give you a pretty straight forward drag and drop interface to start diving into the data. It took me a few hours to really get the hang of it, but the power really shined once I figured out a few of the tricks. I also believe its power lies in the ability to connect to numerous data sources and make all those data sources interoperate within the interface for ad hoc analysis. It is so easy to use Excel or Access as a data source and drill into the data as it is to use SQL or Analysis Services cubes. Just amazing… Also, I need to mention that it is Wicked Fast!
I highly recommend visiting their web site at http://www.tableausoftware.com, and download the trial to check it out. Please make sure to tell them that Patrick Husting at Extended Results set you. If you are interested in a more detailed review, let me know.