Self Serve BI Adoption: the Relative Roles of People, Technology, the Business, and IT

April 22, 2014

Guest Post by Tim Rodman, currently blogging about Acumatica ERP @ www.PerpetualAcumaticaLearner.com

Self-Service BI and Power Pivot Barriers To Entry
They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom Self-Service BI and Power Pivot.

Brief Intro from Rob:  Tim has a great “backstory.”  He found out about Power Pivot in the “usual” way – via a completely random coincidence.  I taught a private class to a firm here in town a couple years back, and one of the attendees (a guy named Andy) lived a few houses down the street from Tim.  Sitting outside at a summer barbecue, Andy mentioned Power Pivot to Tim, Tim said “what’s that?” and six months later Tim was a speaker at our Modern Excel User group.  I think he has some very interesting things to say here – very introspective and honest.  Worth a read for everyone.

Take it away Tim…

I’ve been thinking lately about Self-Service BI and barriers to entry. Now, when it comes to Self-Service BI, much of the focus is on the technology. Do you want to go with Microsoft, Tableau, something else? It seems to me like most of the content on the subject of Self-Service BI is focused on comparing the different technology offerings. I personally don’t know much about the gory details related to the technology behind these products, but I do think that too much attention is given to the technology and not enough attention is given to the people.

In my opinion, PEOPLE are the biggest barrier to entering the Self-Service BI age, not technology.  Note: for the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on Power Pivot since this is appearing on a Power Pivot blog.

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A Few Updates

April 17, 2014

 
Rob here, checking in quickly…

1) Check out today’s guest post below.  I needed to add these updates but I don’t want to push Seth off of the page and have you miss his perspective.  Click here to view his brief thoughts.

2) Yeah, the site was down for 13 hours yesterday.  Bluehost had a widespread outage affecting thousands of customers.  We hired a local consultant yesterday and are moving everything “in house.”  Buh bye, Bluehost.

3) I’ve added another session at the PASS BA Conference next month, which means I am now doing three.  The new one is an exciting new twist for me, because it’s one of our clients sharing their experiences with Power Pivot, with me merely in “color commentary” role:

Power Pivot Case Study - Live at the PASS BA Conference

Click Image to View the Abstract

It’s a CRAZY cool story about Power Pivot solving a problem at the highest levels for a billion-dollar company.  Enterprise impact from a tool that’s often mistakenly pigeonholed as limited to “team” level.

This is not proving to be the exception, either – we now already have two other clients doing VERY similar things, and like Kaman they are both in the “billion dollar plus” range in terms of annual revenue.  Not small, in other words.

Remember, if you choose to register for the conference, use code BASB5O for $150 off.

See this post for more details about the conference.


Power Pivot is a Ferrari, not a Pontiac Aztec

April 17, 2014

 
Guest Post by Seth Strandin

Early in my Power Pivot journey, I found Rob’s “What is PowerPivot?” post.  Here’s an excerpt from that post:

1. It’s a Free Extension to Excel 2010 and 2013, Built by Microsoft

Yeah, it’s free, and it’s from Microsoft, as opposed to a third party.  It dramatically extends the powers of “normal” Excel, and more importantly, the powers of people who use it:  people like me, and probably you too if you are reading this.

It snaps right into Excel as if it had been there from the beginning:

clip_image002

After spending some “quality time” with Power Pivot, I now believe Rob is wrong about that.  Here’s what I think that post should say instead:

Power Pivot is NOT just an extension or add-in to Excel, it’s a new animal that only uses Excel as its UI!

Perhaps it’s a subtle distinction, but in many ways I think it’s a crucial one.  I will explain. 

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The Much-Overlooked Producer/Consumer Dynamic

April 15, 2014

pot brain simmerA Long-Simmering Observation

Today I’d like to take a break from Power Pivot magic tricks and share some thoughts about “the state of data.” 

The particular observation I’d like to share is far from complex, but I think it’s being “missed” by many of the “players” of our game, so even though it’s simple, it’s worth talking about.

Let’s start with an old prediction about Tablets.  I think Tablets quite literally provide a window into the heart of the matter.

 

The Rumors of the Tablet’s Death Were Greatly Exaggerated

tombstone 2A couple years ago, a colleague of mine assured me that the world’s fascination with tablets (iPad, Surface, etc.) would be over shortly.  We’d all be back to using laptops in a few years and the whole tablet form factor would be a memory.  I didn’t give it much thought at the time one way or another – it struck me as bold, but there were other things to discuss so I moved on.

At this point I think we can say the Market has spoken, the verdict is in, and his prediction proven profoundly wrong.

With the recent announcement of Office for iPad, in fact, we’re seeing the world turned SO upside down that MS actually invested tremendous effort in re-tooling their flagship desktop suite to run on their arch-enemy’s tablet.  Again, I’d like to stress, it was Microsoft – of Redmond, Washington – who did this.

Oh, what’s that?  Power Pivot doesn’t run on Office for iPad?  Should we be bothered by that?  Heck no.  Let me explain why not…

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Cross-Filtering in Slicers with Cube Formulas

April 8, 2014

Back from Paradise, Here’s a Quick Tip

Funny thing about vacations is that everyone is waiting on you when you get home.  But man, what a vacation.

Anyway, I’m juggling my final edits to Alchemy, spending two full days with a client, AND teaching a class on Wednesday/Thursday, so today’s post will be brief, but hopefully still useful:

Power Pivot Slicers and Cross Filtering with a Pivot

PivotTable with Two Slicers.  Gender Slicer “Cross Filters” the Customer Name Slicer,
As Expected.  All is Right with the World.

Now we convert the pivot to cube formulas:

Converting Pivot to Cube Formulas

And look what happens to the cross filtering:

Cross Filtering in Slicers is Not Working with Cube Formulas

 

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Turning “OR” Slicers Into “AND” Slicers

April 3, 2014

image

In this Report, We Are Only Seeing Customers Who Have Purchased
Both Accessories AND Clothing During 2004

A Post From Oceanside!

imageYeah, I’m on vacation (my first real vacation in 5+ years), so why am I writing a post?  Well, it’s before 9 am, the family is still sleeping in, and I honestly loved the idea of slipping out to write a post while looking at the ocean. 

The truth is I LOVE writing these posts – in some sense they represent Peak Fun for me, especially when they can be written at a relaxed pace with no outside pressures.  In the future, maybe I will take vacations for the express purpose of writing.  (That sounds surprisingly good to me actually).

Slicers – The More You Select, the More You “Get”

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Alchemy Pre-Orders/Get Your Name in the Book Update

April 1, 2014

 
Hi folks.  On my first real vacation in five years right now (yay!), but wanted to drop in quickly and update you on all of this.  Three quick points:

  1. The two “bonuses” (name printed in the book, “beta” Alchemy eBook) are available to you no matter what method you use for pre-order.  Amazon US, Amazon UK, whatever.  We’ll get your name in the book AND get you the advanced e-copy.  Switching to MrExcel.com was meant to INCLUDE more people (since Amazon US stopped taking pre-orders), and NOT to exclude anyone.
  2. We are leaving the window open for another day or so.  Yes, the window was technically closed on Tuesday 1 Pm US eastern time.  But the deadline is really just to minimize “missing” people, since we have to close the book down and print it.  So another day or two will not hurt.
  3. Orders through MrExcel.com?  Great, we have your name.  And you already received access to the “beta” eBook version of Alchemy.  No need to take further action.
  4. Orders through another method?  Make sure you drop us a note by emailing us here.
  5. “Beta” eBook access for non-MrExcel.com orders will all go out in bulk next week.  Please be patient, it takes a lot of time to take care of this stuff and we want to only do it once.

Original post here.


CALCULATE(): More Examples and Reinforcement

April 1, 2014

Guess Post by Scott Senkeresty

Intro

Rob is taking a much-needed vacation this week, so you get to hang out with me again.  Hurray for you!

When we last Became One With Calculate, I said in comments that I would “work on a visualization/graphic”.  I admit to spending far too much time trying to dream up the perfect visual, and kind of failing.  I am sure the elusive visual exists, but for now, I would like to reinforce our understanding of CALCULATE() with a few more examples.

We will again be partying with the Adventure Works, against this simple measure:
[Total Sales] := SUM(Sales[ExtendedAmount])

Example 1: Column Filter

[TotalSalesEurope] := CALCULATE([Total Sales], Territories[Continent] = “Europe”)

imageThis boolean parameter (aka: true/false parameter, column filter) says “Hey, Mr Dax Engine, I really don’t care what filter you had on Continent… cuz now it is Europe”.   Of course, we did nothing that would impact a filter on Product[Category], so each of the categories still have their own total sales.

I must admit… when I last wrote about CALCULATE(), I was thinking there was something fundamentally different and special about these true/false filters, compared to the table-style filters such as we see with FILTER() or ALL().

And indeed, they are kinda sorta almost special… in that they have a cute syntax and they have the potential to be much more efficient (in terms of speed).

However, functionally, the above measure is identical to the following measure:

=CALCULATE([Total Sales],
          
FILTER(ALL(Territories[Continent]),Territories[Continent] = “Europe”))

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Alchemy Pre-Order Moved to Tuesday on MrExcel.com

March 27, 2014

 
So it turns out Amazon isn’t taking pre-orders of Alchemy anymore here in the US until we notify them that the books are on their way to their warehouse.

No worries, we are resourceful!  Let’s just move the “pre-order, get your name printed in the book” offer to MrExcel.com.  And move the window to Tuesday April 1st (Noon to 1 PM US Eastern time) to give everyone time to see this update.

Updated steps:

0) Add the pre-order window to your calendar

1a) MrExcel.com Physical Book Page (USA Orders Only!)

1b) MrExcel.com eBook Page (All Countries)

(No need to send screenshots.  We’ll have your name from the order).

***BONUS:  In addition to getting your name printed in the book, ALL pre-orders from MrExcel.com will include IMMEDIATE access to the “rough cuts” version of Alchemy in PDF form.  Think of this as the 99% complete version of the book, a “final beta” of sorts.  You can start reading next week, and then receive the final version when it’s ready in a few weeks.  (Immediate access to the PDF is included with pre-orders of the physical book OR eBook).

See original post below for the rest of the info.  Sorry for the chaos Smile


Get Your Name Printed in Power Pivot Alchemy :)

March 27, 2014

 

***UPDATE:  Pre-order window moved to Tuesday April 1st, and moved from Amazon to MrExcel.com:

0) Add the pre-order window to your calendar

1a) MrExcel.com Physical Book Page (USA Orders Only!)

1b) MrExcel.com eBook Page (All Countries)

***BONUS:  In addition to getting your name printed in the book, ALL pre-orders from MrExcel.com will include IMMEDIATE access to the “rough cuts” version of Alchemy in PDF form.  Think of this as the 99% complete version of the book, a “final beta” of sorts.  You can start reading next week, and then receive the final version when it’s ready in a few weeks.  (Immediate access to the PDF is included with pre-orders of the physical book OR eBook).

image

image

About 160 People Got Their Names Printed in the First Book, and Seemed to Really Enjoy It.
Time to Do That Again for My Long-Delayed New Book, Alchemy.

The long tug of war draws to a close…

Yes folks, it’s basically done.  For over a year now, Bill and I have taken turns playing the roles of “Busy Guy Who Keeps Putting it Off” and “Impatient Guy Who Wonders Why the Other Guy Keeps Dragging His Feet.”

For the record, it looks like the game is ending with me holding the hot potato.  Bill will forever remind me that I was the last hold up, I know this.

Order Tuesday April 1st Between
12 and 1 PM US Eastern Time

Pre-order the book on MrExcel.com during that 1-hour window and we will include your name in the book before it goes to the printer!  (Yes we still have a narrow window for changes).

0) Add the pre-order window to your calendar

1a) MrExcel.com Physical Book Page (USA Orders Only!)

1b) MrExcel.com eBook Page (All Countries)

(No Need to Send Screenshots Since We’ll Have Your Name on the Order)

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Net Promoter Score: Fiendishly Simple in PowerPivot! (Caution: Post Contains 26 Movie Quotes)

March 25, 2014

 

Net Promoter Score in Power Pivot

Net Promoter Scores Are Fiendishly Simple to Calculate in Power Pivot

What is “Net Promoter Score?”

Fundamentally, it’s a measure of how many of your customers love you, minus how many of them dislike you.  Hence the name – Net Promoter Score.

WARNING:  I am personally no expert here.  I am doing my usual thing:  take a small amount of knowledge and wield it like a battle axe.  I was helping a client today (Monday) with this, and am writing about it a mere three hours later.  But I figure there are lots of people out there who need to do this sort of thing, and THEY get what it all means.  So allow me to share how EASY these calcs are in Power Pivot.

NetPromoter.com describes NPS as:

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Becoming one with CALCULATE()

March 20, 2014

Guest Post by Scott Senkeresty

Intro from Rob

Hey, it starts out simple and powerful:  CALCULATE is the SUMIF you always wished you’d had.  It works in pivots.  It’s the “anything IF.”  It’s amazing, really, how many doors it opens.

Of course, CALCULATE is designed to be powerful in ways we can’t even IMAGINE in our first day/week/month of using it.  You can spend years discovering all the things it can do – and that’s a good thing!  But sooner or later you’re going to hit something with CALCULATE that makes you scratch your head – why is it returning THOSE results?

I myself entered this twilight zone with the Precedence Project – a series of posts that I quickly abandoned.  It turns out that, practically speaking, you don’t need to achieve deep theoretical understanding of this stuff in order to achieve great results.

Below, however, Scott does a great job of resolving those mysteries.  And he does so by “channeling” two old friends who live at the base of the Alps.  Take it away, Scott…

Going to “Graduate School”

image

All right, so I’ve read Rob’s book a few times.  (Heck, I am credited as tech editor on it.)  I’ve devoured PowerPivotPro University.  So now what, I ask Rob?

“Go forth and conquer – data is your ocean,” is his answer.  He’s a practical sort of guy.  Me, though?  I’m never satisfied until I’ve completely torn the machine apart.

So, as I hinted in my last post, I went to graduate school and spent a few intense days engrossed in Marco and Alberto’s book.

 

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