The first time you truly experience Power Pivot – not a demo, not some random public data set or someone else’s data – your own business data all lit up using Power Pivot. It is a transformative experience. And you know there is no turning back.
I remember that moment, I remember thinking this is HUGE, this gets BI in the hands of people who really need it. Power Pivot is surely is going to explode.
Sadly, it does not feel like that is happening
|a) Unaware. Have not heard of Power Pivot or Power BI|
|b) Aware but have not truly experienced the capabilities of Power Pivot|
|c) In Love with Power Pivot|
Note: Are there stages between b) and c)? Between experiencing Power Pivot and falling in love? Perhaps. But guided by the right hands that path should be really short
Unaware: Don’t know what they are missing
For the unaware group, I do my part; talking to anyone who would lend me an ear, about Power Pivot and Power BI at any event or gathering. But overall we would need to trust the higher powers within Microsoft with that task. However I will make the offerings below to the powers that be:
- Power Pivot should be a free add-in for all versions of Excel 2013, just the way it is for Excel 2010. I feel it even makes good business sense for Microsoft. Power Pivot has the potential to attract a large user base and would solidly anchor Office and Office 365 in the rapidly changing world. These users can then be up sold services like Power BI.
- Power Pivot add-in should be easily discoverable. Both Power View and Power Map have buttons as part of the standard Excel ribbon, which can be used to easily activate these tools. Not so for Power Pivot.
It takes 8 mouse clicks to activate the add-in so you can launch Power Pivot.
File > Options > Add-Ins > Click Dropdown > COM Add-Ins > Go > Select ‘Microsoft Office Power Pivot for Excel 2013’ > Ok
As the first born in the Power BI suite, it is time for Power Pivot to claim it’s rightful place on the standard Excel ribbon and it would fit perfectly under the Data tab.
|Currently in Excel 2013||Desired in Excel 2013|
Note: There was a shift in Excel 2013 to weave in Power Pivot so closely with the tool (and call it Data Model) that potentially many users would not even need to learn or use the Power Pivot window. IMHO, that is just keeping people away from all the goodness and richness of Power Pivot. Let them come, let them explore and experience.
Aware but not in Love: Mind the Gap!
While I may feel helpless in making a dent in the Unaware group, I feel impassioned and even obligated to help the Aware but inexperienced group.
I have spoken to many Excel users and noticed that there is a gap between knowing about Power Pivot and actually trying it out yourself to experience its true power. There is a step there that many users simply cannot take. Being on the other side, it baffles me a bit. I feel like yelling “Hey, come on over, the grass IS greener on the other side!”
I have some thoughts around, why is there a gap and what can be done to minimize the gap, but I’ll keep those to myself for now and focus on what can we do to get people to cross over from one side to the other. There may be many ways across, but I’ll pick the one that speaks strongly to me.
If someone were to just hold the new users hand and walk them through transforming their first data set using Power Pivot. Nothing fancy, a simple dimensional model with basic measures. This might take as few as two hours. It has to be their own data set though, one close to their heart, with answers to the riddles they are trying to solve. Not AdventureWorks or Tailspin Toys. Sample data sets can be good for learning but can still leave you short of crossing the gap.
That task my comrades, befalls on us. We are the enlightened, the empowered. The readers of this blog, most of you have crossed the gap, and now it falls on you to help the others. The Haves should help the Have Nots.
So look for the enthusiasts amongst your colleagues and friends – the data gene people – and encourage them to:-
- Read a book or online blogs
- Take a class (online or live in-person)
- Ask questions on forums
And when they are back at their desks and working through their first data set, help them. Just a little bit, just to get across. They will never look back.
Revolution starts with you
I am still convinced that Power Pivot and Power BI would transform the world of BI. However it would not transpire the way I had imagined. Instead of a big explosion it would be more of a trickle, till it starts to pour and then it becomes a torrent. It would spread from one person to the next…
…till it reaches the tipping point.
Just not without your help. So help one person cross the gap from Excel to Excel+Power Pivot.