Who are you? Seriously WHO are YOU?–Defining the role of the PowerPivot Professional

image

(Keeping with the tone of this blog, I’m using movie references here; on the left we got a hybrid and on the right we got a hybrid that was “infected” by a virus…the “P” virus)

(Guest post by Miguel Escobar)

YOU, my PowerPivot fellow, are the result of over 20 years of research for a better human genome.

YOU are also a hybrid.

and most importantly, YOU…are the future of business!

Big words, but let me elaborate! Sonrisa


A hybrid? someone infected that has new powers? What are you really?

Well, first, we need to determine what are the current roles of a normal traditional organization:

(on the left, the business man represented as a Lycan and on the right the BI Professional represented as a vampire)

Depending on how good the BI professional is they could be represented as directly related to the Corvinus descent.

(following the analogy, this is the representation of the BI Pros – here you’ll place guys like Marco, Alberto, Chris Webb and many more)

and most likely you were neither of them in the first place. You were on the side of the business but you were EXTREMELY intrigued by what the BI Pros did; but you noticed that you didn’t have the right toolset to start working on it or that, essentially, you were not into things like MDX because they seemed to be very distant to you. In contrast, Excel seemed extremely familiar to you so you started investing your time on it to deliver the solutions that you needed for your business.

You were sort of the connection between them (the business) and the BI Pros but never really considered something more than a Business User. (maybe in some cases even a Power User Sonrisa)

And then we add a Self-service BI tool to the plate… (The P[owerpivot] virus)

Suddenly, you no longer feel distant to a query language. Suddenly, you start feeling more excited about having a new tool right on your current development area. Something that will come in handy when developing solutions to your business.

(who dropped the P virus in your organization? leave it in the comments below!)

And that’s how it all starts. But after being “infected”, what’s your new role in the whole picture?

You now have the right tools to create a powerful BI solution and also have the knowledge to ask the right questions

As a Lycan = you’re entitled to ask as many questions and all the questions that you need in order to make better business

As a Vampire = you help the Lycans in order for them to reach the answers to the questions they have

but, as a hybrid?

As a hybrid you’re now aware of the capabilities of your whole business, what the business do, how it operates and you also now know how to make the calculations in order to answer the questions that you have thus reaching the insight that you need.

There’s an imminent effect. When you reach this level of hybrid-ness (sorry for making up words here) you’ll start thinking differently… how different?

Well, you’ll start digging more and more into the data and suddenly become aware that there is more to dig for than what you used to actually care about. It’s no longer just going for the questions that we had before but now we have BETTER and more insightful questions. Questions that will make our business grow.

Conclusion

You are something new…a new type of workforce. We, myself included, are not as much into BI as the BI pros as we overlook things like ETL (SSIS for Microsoft) or even the Data Platform and development of custom application (Sharepoint, VS, SSRS, etc). BUT! there’s still room for us to reach that knowledge and grow as the new type of professionals that we are. It’s a type of skills set that will VERY much become important if its not important already in the market.

Just think about it, is it that we’re a hybrid (a new type of BI pro)… or is it that the business user is evolving? Guiño

(completely random picture but it fits the last statement)

7/10/2013 Note: after checking out the Power BI demo by Amir I can reassure you that you’ve made a great investment when taking the task to learn about DAX and Powerpivot =). The future is yours. take it! (starting sometime this summer)

9 Responses to Who are you? Seriously WHO are YOU?–Defining the role of the PowerPivot Professional

  1. David Hager says:

    It’s a type of skills set that will VERY much become important if its not important already in the market.”

    I have not seen it in the market yet, and believe me, I monitor it very closely, because I do need a job.

    • Hey David!

      Glad to see you around. Maybe some of them do not specify Powerpivot as a requirement but they do specify “Advanced Knowledge in Excel” and that’s where Powerpivot comes in handy :)

      Here are some examples of some job openings that DO specify Powerpivot:
      http://jobs.dell.com/united-states/engineering/jobid2685181-microsoft-bi-architect-jobs
      http://jobs.dell.com/atlanta/operations/jobid3820845-sales-operations-advisor-reporting-analyst-dell-secureworks-jobs

      but most of the job openings like these also require some knowledge of SSIS, for example.

      I’m sure that you’ll find something soon. Best of luck!

      • David Hager says:

        ALL of the jobs currently on the market are BI-centric, and require that you have grown up in the BI world. As you have pointed out, there are high hopes for Excel-centric BI experts, but unfortunately the real world currently has little understanding of that future. BTW, a typical company’s definition of “Advanced Knowledge of Excel” means you know how to use a pivot table. That is not my definition.

      • Geoff McNeely says:

        I think the early opportunity here is not necessarily in finding a “job” with this, but in creating your own opportunities with these skills. Most businesses don’t realize the value of PivotPros yet because they just don’t know.

        To solve this we need evangelism in the form of outreach and customer development. I am working with my own company for one pilot. We have inventory info but the system we use doesn’t give us adequate pipeline analysis. After an hour reviewing the manual reports we create I already factored the data model (something people creating manual reports have NO idea what is nor how to do) and I KNOW that when I finish parsing the core data the reports they *want* are a quick pivot away.

        What’s my point? Well, proving this internally gives me the clout and the credibility to go OUTSIDE the organization to pitch similar things: exploratory investigations into scalable problems. The more scalable problems, the greater the chance I create a job for myself with this work.

        What’s a scalable problem? Say I have a set of simple dashboards I create to solve my company’s problem. Now, I find similar businesses who share the problem, and offer to analyze their data and processes and create a dashboard for them. I’ve ALREADY done the work, so it will just take the time to grok their domain and map it to my solution (or a variation thereof) and I can roll out their solution.

        We can find 10, 100, 1000 others that have the same problem. If we can charge $5k to deliver their dashboard and it costs one BI pro 5 hours of work at $100 an hour… Well, it doesn’t take an accountant to do the math on that ROI.

        So I guess what I’m doing here is inviting you to think about creating your own “job” and partner up with someone who can do the sales part for you and you can create a new industry with these skills.

        Amiright? What do you hybrids think?

  2. David Hager says:

    PowerPivot has been around 3 years now. Why does the industry you speak of not already exist? I can tell you in one word: IT. To this day, Excel developers have never been accepted by IT, and to them the addition of Excel-centric BI tools is just another flavor of Excel developer. As much as everyone would like to believe it, how business is done by companies is not a bottom – up process. So, until Microsoft itself evangelizes to their IT customers that Excel/PowerPivot pros would be a valuable company asset, acceptance of the future painted here will continue to be very slow. BTW, creating my own job w/o the necessary business connections would be foolish.

    • Hey David / Geoff!

      You guys beat me to it!

      In some sense, the Powerpivot Revolution started a long time ago and must of us were conscious that in order to make Powerpivot “Mainstream” it would need to be a native part of Excel. Microsoft didn’t make it available in all the the versions of Excel 2013 and I was one of the first to open a thread not knowing that the Pro version didn’t have Powerpivot =(.

      But! Isn’t MSFT already investing A LOT in self-service BI and Tabular? isn’t PowerBI like the paradise for us, the hybrids?
      People will never get a chance to get to know Powerpivot unless we introduce them to it and that’s why we need Evangelists =)
      We need to tell them how awesome Power Pivot, Power View, Power Map and Power Query are! and also, how in a near future the solutions that we create will be consumable on your mobile devices. (The PowerBI combo is what makes you a total new BI hybrid where you actually know about a form of ETL through Power Query -actually ETP- and you know about SSRS through Power View and your solutions are not destined to be on your local desktop either).

      I know that none of this will help you with your current situation but to me and to several other organizations YOU, my dear hybrid friend, are an extremely valuable professional not only because you are on ‘avant garde’ but because I know for a fact that if you know Powerpivot you can get water out of rocks =)

  3. gregkramer1 says:

    I think Rob does a great job (can you say rat sniff boy & PP will ) doing the action of the quote below:

    “The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.” — Eric Hoffer —so David, pipe up about the lack of real opportunities now & just evangelize until you land something sweet :-)

    I really think the PPP’s, with Rob as our leader, should remember that in the words of my friend Dave Logan, that “You are Batman.” (In our case, it is “you are the Gemini”…substitute Gemini for Batman :-)

    From Dave Logan, “Think about it. What makes Batman, Batman? Wealth, fighting skills, and friends who can develop high-tech suits, cars, and other gear to aid his crime-fighting. His great gift — the one that propels him and allows him to do what appears impossible — is a belief: that he can become Batman, and that the world needs Batman.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57488605/finding-your-great-gift/

  4. XSzil says:

    Nice post Miguel! Well timed… Power Pivot = end of the Vampire-Lycan war, new era of peace & hybrid-fueled enlightenment :) Or, at least a cease fire for now.

    David H, your comments really struck me. I wouldn’t be too concerned with someone else’s arbitrary definition of “Advanced Excel knowledge” (it often means nothing other than “somebody who used to work in HR told me to say that..”). Also unsurprising that you didn’t find a whole lot of job postings expressly seeking Power Pivot. Now I’m going to riff on what Geoff & others have said, because the industry DOES exist, but perhaps in a less obvious way than we’re used to.

    I agree that getting hired – for any job – boils down whether you make your employer’s / client’s life easier, period. The hybrid, while perfectly suited for this and many things, is not always the easiest sell for a variety of reasons: One, the skill is not easily measured. It doesn’t fit neatly into a familiar category or check box on a Monster.com profile. “Excel” is far too generic & overplayed. So perhaps consider some more off-job board, creative / unconventional marketing tactics. Anecdote: I had exactly zero connections when I started out in consulting, so I started doing “Excel Happy Hours”, live “infomercial” style :) Free demos, free cocktails, and far better success rate than any job board ever, in terms of making face-to-face connections AND eventual jobs. Did they only come for the booze? Probably. Did I care? Uhmmm…. Anyway I’ve learned a few new tricks since then, but the key to selling for me has always been the ability to get the aforementioned “water out of the rock”, or to put out the fire, or to reduce the chaos, or… [insert favorite annoying consulting-ism here]. For so many routine business problems, that’s precisely what is needed and it’s the seller’s job to convince the potential employer of just that. Your weapon of choice – Excel or Power Pivot or a vampire slaying holy water bazooka – is often of secondary, sometimes zero interest to your busy employer / client.

    The second reason Excel-BI is hard to sell is pure timing: Seems like that “thing” we’re selling is still in an “early adopter” phase. Indeed the ones that “get it” now could be considered the “visionaries”. But by definition, visionaries are always outnumbered by pragmatists who opt for a “wait and see” approach. Power Pivot awesomeness notwithstanding, corporate cultures do not magically transform overnight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very enthusiastic about the revolution, just trying to keep it real :)

    Isn’t it exciting to be watching it unfold from the inside??

  5. Mike Cadieux says:

    David,
    Please reach out to me with an e-mail address that we might speak. I may have an opportunity for you.
    Best regards,
    mike.cadieux@us-resources.com
    Mike Cadieux

Leave a Reply