As the most popular database program in the world, MS Access allows the creation of very sophisticated multi-user applications with a shared back-end data source, simple desktop data manipulation, or adhoc reporting solutions from a variety of data sources.
I have not found a data source that I could not link MS Access to including SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, MS Excel, Word, dBase, etc. Because of this, an Access developer has the ability to develop and deploy real-time front-end solutions that report critical business intelligence from one or more of these sources. These solutions can either be one-offs or custom menu-driven applications that offer the selection of multiple criteria, grouping, sorting and visual representation.
With the Access Query Designer, complex multi-table queries can be created. Queries can also use VBA or user defined functions directly in queries for sophisticated analysis and updates.
The reporting ability in MS Access ranges from simple data querying to complex grouped, sorted and summarized reports with charts, graphs and custom VBA functions. Include sub-reports to further show multi-table relationships if needed. Here's a few examples:
MS Access 2010 also includes the ability to design and deploy database applications to web hosted Sharepoint sites. These can be totally browser based or desktop front-ends linked to Sharepoint lists. Though there are size limitations, this allows the flexibility to have remote users share, add or update all or some business data. Note the example of Sharepoint hosted reporting design:
MS Access offers a low-cost solution for handling data and automating business processes. Microsoft even makes available a free runtime that alleviates the cost of buying Access for every end user.
Bottom Line Cost Advantage
For many business needs, MS Access is a cost-effective and powerful tool!