There are a few different options on the market for decision analytics. But if you’re looking for risk analysis cloud-based tools, you might be encountering limitations. For example, @RISK is a popular Excel add-in that provides some good tools for risk analysis, but it’s desktop-only. If you’re using @RISK for Monte Carlo simulation and optimization, you’re probably hitting a wall with usability and product constraints.  

Let’s take a closer look at the different risk analysis features and uses of Analytic Solver® vs. @RISK, explore the pain points that business leaders and business analysts encounter with decision analytics solutions – and see why a “cloud-first,” cloud-based risk analysis tool is the best path forward.

Analytic Solver vs. @RISK: Differences and Limitations 

@RISK is an Excel add-in for Monte Carlo simulation and risk analysis that is popular with Excel users and easy to access. However, @RISK only works with Excel for Windows, and it’s limited to the desktop. This means that with @RISK, you can only run your risk analysis models on your desktop or laptop computers.

Compared to @RISK, Analytic Solver offers the same risk analysis power – it has at least 163 probability distribution, statistics and six sigma functions, time-series simulation functions, and property functions “in common” with @RISK – but it’s available on a far wider range of applications and platforms. Analytic Solver runs on all versions of Excel, including: 

  • Excel for Windows
  • Excel for Mac
  • Excel for the Web (via browser)
  • Microsoft Teams (which loads Excel for the Web) 

Analytic Solver also includes “point-and-click” deployment of models to Power BI and Tableau. Your risk analysis and optimization models run live in these business intelligence tools.

In a world where so many applications are moving to the cloud, this is a pretty significant advantage. You don’t want to worry about your model being contained on one laptop or limited to one physical location with @RISK. Nor do you want out-of-date versions of your model in use by others who received emailed copies.

That’s why Frontline Systems offers both a cloud-based and desktop version of Analytic Solver. We believe that cloud-first is the future of analytics software.

Desktop vs. Cloud Analytics: Analytic Solver Gives You Both

One of the significant limitations of @RISK that we hear about from Excel users is that the software can only be used on a desktop or laptop. This can be a major source of friction in a world of remote and hybrid work – where business analysts need to access their models while traveling or working from home.

People are demanding a higher level of convenience and accessibility from their analytics software. This is part of a global shift in the enterprise software industry toward a cloud-first approach. In fact, during the past 10 years, Microsoft has been emphasizing cloud-first “modern Office add-ins” that work with Office for the Web and Office for Windows and Mac. Desktop-only analytics software like @RISK will not go away overnight, but its limitations are becoming more apparent. The future is in the cloud.

Frontline Solvers® has long embraced a “cloud-first” strategy for our analytics software. We introduced the Analytic Solver Cloud version four years ago in 2019. We’ll continue to support and enhance our desktop software, but we want to give our customers the flexibility to access their risk analysis models anywhere, on any device.

And when you purchase a license for Analytic Solver, you get the desktop and the cloud version included in every license at the same price. Other analytics companies require you to pay extra for the cloud version or ask you to buy additional licenses. We believe in cloud-first, but our desktop version is included at no extra charge.

The Easy New Way to Run @RISK Models in the Cloud 

Until recently, it’s been difficult for people to convert their @RISK models to Analytic Solver. There were equivalent functions in each product, but you had to hand-edit each use of a product-specific function, like RiskNormal() versus PsiNormal(). And some ambitious models use thousands of these functions!

But in our latest product release, this is much easier – and you can even run your @RISK model in the cloud. That’s right: even though @RISK doesn’t offer its own cloud-based option, you can use Analytic Solver’s cloud capabilities to run your @RISK model in the cloud.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Start Excel with Analytic Solver.
  2. Open your @RISK model workbook.
  3. Click Distributions – Convert on the Analytic Solver Ribbon
  4. Your @RISK model is now an Analytic Solver model!
  5. Save your workbook, then open it in any of the other modern Excel versions – it just works.
    (Note: For platforms other than desktop Windows, you will need to add one extra step – go to Excel’s Insert – Office Add-ins option to add Analytic Solver to your workbooks.) 

Analytic Solver gives you the most robust, versatile combination of all capabilities for decision analytics, depending on your preferences and business needs. With Analytic Solver you can get a desktop experience, cloud-based analytics, and compatibility with @RISK to run your @RISK models in the cloud.

You can create a model in the cloud version of Analytic Solver and run it on your desktop (or vice versa), with full interoperability. With Analytic Solver, you don’t have to worry about losing progress or being forced to re-create your work while traveling or after switching between desktop and cloud versions.

Analytic Solver vs. @RISK: Get the Fastest Risk Analysis Results

@RISK offers Monte Carlo simulation – a powerful mathematical tool to calculate thousands of possible future outcomes with insights and sensitivity analysis, so you can make better-informed business decisions. But for large models, simulation runs in @RISK can be painfully slow. Analytic Solver offers all the Monte Carlo simulation capabilities you’ll find in @RISK with much faster results, and far more power for decision-making, especially using optimization.

Here are a few reasons why Analytic Solver Simulation stands out from the competition: 

  • Up to 100x faster: Our Polymorphic Spreadsheet Interpreter (PSI) technology, proven in use for over 20 years, helps you achieve ultra-fast simulation speeds, and get to the outcome 10 times to as much as 100 times faster than other tools for Excel.
  • 80 analytic and custom distributions: Analytic Solver’s Monte Carlo simulation capability supports 80 analytic and custom distributions (continuous and discrete), with multiple argument “signatures”, and 80 statistics, risk measures, and Six Sigma functions.
  • Metalog distributions: Along with equivalents of virtually every @RISK function, Analytic Solver fully supports the new family of Metalog distributions – sometimes referred to as “one ring to rule them all in risk analysis.” And it gives you uniquely powerful, automated distribution fitting for the full range of Metalog functions.
  • Vivid charts and graphics: When assessing uncertainty, it helps to visualize the possible outcomes. Analytic Solver helps you see the possible outcomes clearly, with impactful charts such as sensitivity charts (“Tornado” charts), probability distributions, scatter plots, and more. It’s easy to customize your charts and graphs to use in PowerPoint presentations.

Analytic Solver: All-in-One Solution for Risk Analysis in the Cloud

@RISK has become a popular Excel tool for good reason; it’s got some great capabilities. But if you want to go beyond just risk analysis to decisions that deal with risk, @RISK can’t tackle everything that your business might need. Analytic Solver® gives you a one-stop shop for every analytics problem.

Here’s what you get with Analytic Solver as an all-in-one solution for decision analytics:

  • Monte Carlo simulation: Powered by super-fast Polymorphic Spreadsheet Interpreter (PSI) technology, Analytic Solver Simulation gives you powerful decision trees and helps you get to the outcome up to 100x faster than other simulation tools.  
  • Optimization: Analytic Solver Optimization handles every type and size of conventional optimization problem, as well as stochastic optimization problems (with uncertainty). It lets you solve nonlinear models 10x larger, and linear models 40x larger than our basic Excel Solver – and extends to handle up to millions of decisions at once. 
  • Data Mining/Machine Learning: Not just a few features like the @RISK companion “NeuralTools”, but everything you need to build the full range of modern machine learning models. Sample data from SQL and big data sources. Explore your data visually, transform data, and apply a full range of time series forecasting and ML methods, from ARIMA and exponential smoothing, to classification and regression trees, to neural networks, logistic regression, and even ensembles of multiple methods.

@RISK doesn’t offer anything close to this full range of options. Unlike @RISK and other analytics tools, Analytic Solver lets you build challenging models quickly and gives you a one-stop shop for modeling, building and solving.  

Ready to see why Analytic Solver® is the best choice for decision analytics?

Watch our 4-minute demo video and see how to run @RISK models in the cloud.