Take the Survey – on average, it’s taken people about 3 minutes to complete.
Results Part One – SharePoint adoption, and overlap/competition with other self-service BI tools.
Results Part Two – adoption by Excel pros, now and projected.
We had a brief conversation on Twitter today regarding PowerPivot adoption, specifically about the ratio of “Tech pros” to “Excel pros” in the survey results so far.
Recall that we’re seeing about twice as many tech pros as Excel pros show up in the results:
Updated as of April 4th
There were two questions raised:
- Is the ratio reported in the survey at all reflective of the broader reality “in the wild?”
- If it is accurate, is the ratio a good or bad sign?
- Yes – while neither precise nor strictly scientific, I do think the survey provides a good indication
- I think it’s a very good sign that we already have half as many Excel pros engaged as tech pros
I will explain, of course. I will also provide more results analysis, and some projections of my own.
Tech Pros are Proactive, Excel Pros are Incremental
Think for a moment about the “genetic” makeup of Tech Pros versus Excel Pros:
Tech Pros: Are measured primarily by how much they can do with their specialized technology. And that technology is constantly in flux. If you are a BI or a SharePoint pro for instance, your world has been upended significantly in just the last 12 months – PowerPivot has dramatically modified the BI landscape, and SharePoint 2010 is a shift almost as big.
On net, tech pros have to be very actively “outward looking” in order to be successful. They read blogs. They attend conferences. They even voluntarily attend full-day community events on weekends (like SQL Saturday and SharePoint Saturday). They are constantly experimenting with new toolsets.
Excel Pros: Excel pros aren’t identified as “Excel Pros” on their resumes – they are business analysts, marketers, etc. who happen to know how to make Excel sing.
And guess what? Excel has certainly added a lot of improvements over the years, but fundamentally, an Excel pro could have been frozen 15 years ago, thawed out today, and they wouldn’t miss a beat once they got over the shock of the ribbon.
So… that is why there are no Excel Saturdays. There are no conferences devoted to Excel. There ARE Excel blogs of course, but those blogs’ reader bases, while healthy, still only represent a paltry percentage of the millions of Excel pros.
Excel Pros just don’t go out looking to learn new things. They learn new things only when they encounter a problem that they don’t yet know how to solve. (See the comments section for a clarification on this). So when they learn, they learn from incremental experimentation with features they’ve seen but never used – “Oh, I bet THAT’s what the OFFSET function is for!” Or from colleagues. Or from forums. Or maybe they pull a book off their shelf.
99% of Excel skills are learned in response to solving today’s problem today.
Half as Many Excel Pros as Tech Pros ALREADY? Excellent!
If you’re a BI pro or a SharePoint pro, you’d have to have been living in a cave for the past year in order to have not heard about PowerPivot by now. Multiple times, actually. It’s safe to say that audience is nearing awareness saturation.
But if you’re an Excel pro, you are a much more difficult person to reach. How can PowerPivot be the answer to your problem today if it only works with Excel 2010, which you probably don’t have yet and neither do your colleagues? Right there, most of the ways you’d typically be exposed to it, or to even have heard of it, are cut off.
And even if you DO have Excel 2010, well, PowerPivot is a separate download isn’t it? And your copy of Excel doesn’t include a link, hint, or any other suggestion of PowerPivot’s existence.
So I find it VERY encouraging that we already have half as many Excel pros on board as we do tech pros so quickly. If I’d run this same survey three months ago, I’m positive it would have been more skewed toward tech pros.
More Survey Results Rob!
Let’s drill down into the results in this area a bit:
How People Discovered PowerPivot: Tech Pros vs. Excel Pros
What jumps out?
- MS websites/publications were the first exposure method for about 40% of each audience. I am not surprised by 40% for the tech pros. But I AM surprised by 40% for Excel pros. I suspect that the official Excel blog accounts for a lot of that.
- Conferences were more important for tech pros than Excel pros. Not surprising, but it IS surprising that it’s so close – 20% to 14%. What conferences are these? I need to attend!
- Non-MS websites are 3x as important to Excel pros as tech pros. 24% to 8%. Now that DOES jive with my past experience. Forums, etc. And MrExcel.com in particular, I suspect.
Pretty similar. We’re still seeing, largely, the “first responders,” regardless of specialty.
And that’s an excellent segue way to my next point.
How I Think These Results Will Look Years From Now
Let me add a column to each of those reports, reflecting my personal rough projection of how this survey will look when we run it years down the road:
- Not everyone can be first. As time goes on, we will see “I was first” drop sharply. But even more sharply for Excel pros than tech pros. There just are too many Excel pros for many of them to be first.
- Colleagues will be the primary exposure. More so for Excel pros than tech, because tech pros are naturally just more self-driven to learn new toolsets.
- The rise of “Other” for Excel Pros. Eventually Microsoft will figure out how to bake PowerPivot into the core Excel product. There are a lot of technical and political challenges for them to address, so there’s no guarantee it will happen soon. But I think it will happen eventually.
Revealed: The Secret to Reaching More Excel Pros in the Next Year!
It occurs to me that Microsoft and this blog both have the same goal, and challenges, in reaching Excel pros. Go do a quick Google search on “PowerPivot.” The first page of results while I am writing this is composed 100% of MS sites, plus this site and its companion, PowerPivotFAQ.com.
So if you’re an Excel pro and you’re doing your “learn PowerPivot incrementally” thing that you do so well, chances are you’ve discovered this site. That’s why I feel comfortable saying that the survey results so far offer a decent approximation of real adoption trends.
The trick, of course, is getting you to run that query in the first place. If you’re reading this, I am glad you got started, however you did
So what’s the number one thing Microsoft can do, in the next year, to reach dramatically more Excel pros?
Nothing. Just do nothing. And wait. That’s my unsolicited advice on what will have the greatest impact.
Sure, there are some clever things to do, like advertising on Excel “haunts” like the most popular forum sites. Integrating some sort of “awareness” like a help topic or a link into an Excel 2010 service pack would be a MAJOR coup.
But honestly, the ball is rolling, and it’s like that boulder in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Half as many Excel pros as tech pros already is PHENOMENAL. Excel 2010 keeps filtering out. Awareness is spreading. And word of mouth in a community of millions will soon dwarf any other efforts.
PostScript: I’m not even making this up!
Right as I finished typing the words above, someone responded to the survey as follows:
- Specialty: Marketing
- More than 20 people with desktop PowerPivot installed today (note: this is the most yet!)
- No, I was not first in my company
Heh heh. In honor of that, let’s do one more projection: