Data Nirvana: Power Pivot, OData, and Acumatica ERP

Guest Post By: Tim Rodman

There is finally an ERP product that gets it, that embraces Power Pivot, Power BI, and the more than 800 million users of Microsoft Excel.

“What Power Pivot did to Excel, Acumatica is doing to the world of ERP”.

Acumatica recently announced the ability to securely connect to Acumatica ERP data through OData

This is huge. It’s as if two worlds are colliding, creating a good kind of explosion.


You: “So, wait a second, what is ERP?”

Me: “Great question, I should probably back up for a minute.”

What is ERP

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning and it is the computer system that ties all of the departments in your organization together.

If you work with Power Pivot, there is a very good chance that you also work with ERP data.
SAP, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, Infor, Epicor, Sage, and NetSuite are all examples of ERP systems.

Many of the ERP systems in companies today are very old and very ugly. The problem is that they are expensive to replace so they continue to exist through a patchwork of duct tape fixes that have been cobbled together over the years.

However, ERP systems contain a virtual Fort Knox of data that can lead to incredible insights if analyzed correctly (with Power Pivot of course).

The ERP Problem

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Choose Your Big Data Bonus Topic!

  As announced earlier, the inimitable Denny Lee is teaching a guest module in PowerPivotPro School.  Denny’s specialty at Microsoft is where “our world” of Excel and self-serve BI meets the mysterious world of Big Data.  That “convergence zone” is a place that is very interesting to us, from a career perspective. I’m super psyched, then, to have him teaching a module on precisely this topic – Big Data meets Power Pivot meets Excel.  I myself will be sitting in…

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Did Someone Say Big Data?

  How Did I Not Think of THIS Until Today??? Exhausted It’s Wednesday night and I’m about to board an overnight flight home.  Except… said overnight flight doesn’t actually get me home.  It gets me to the NEXT airport, where I get to wait 90 minutes for my NEXT flight.  And THAT one gets me home.  So I’m kinda gonna be a disaster tomorrow. GREAT meetings this week though that got me one step closer to being able to reveal…

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Job openings on PDW team at MS in California

 Got an email from an old friend over the weekend who is looking to hire some folks.  I generally love nothing more than posting job opportunities in the data realm, so here goes Richard Tkachuk, who some of you might know from his previous incarnation as a member of the Analysis Services team, landed in southern California a few years ago to help deliver the SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse appliance. He’s absolutely dying trying to hire talented program managers…

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Can PowerPivot Pros Call Themselves Data Scientists? Part 2: Finding a Balance Between “Yes” and “No”


“Go.  Go find the balance…  Banzai, Daniel-san!  Banzai!”

-Mr. Miyagi

So… Are We Data Scientists or What?

On Tuesday I introduced the notion of a Data Scientist – it’s a hot new field, there’s a huge shortage of qualified people, and maybe PowerPivot gives us a shot at some of the action.

So…  are we Data Scientists?  Are we allowed in their hip new club? 


Being Careful:  Things We Are Not

In our quest for broader horizons and appreciation, Excel Pros need to be careful – if we overdo it, we may look silly.  So first let’s cover a few things that we don’t do, and make sure we don’t advertise ourselves as such – because to many people, “Data Scientist” implies these things.

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Can PowerPivot Pros Call Themselves Data Scientists?

Data Science is HOT

Let’s start with a couple of screens from the web, and note that every picture in this post will take you to the original article if you click it:

Can PowerPivot Pros Call Themselves Data Scientists?

“Harvard,” “Data,” and “Sexiest” All in One Place!
(The Mayan Prophesy for 2012 Comes True)

Data Science PowerPivot New Black Tim O'Reilly

Tim O’Reilly Would Never Say That Excel is the New Black.  Or Would He?

And There’s a Huge Shortage of Data Scientists!

This is the part where any career-minded Excel Pro (me! me!) should sit up and take notice:

McKinsey report on data scientist shortage

A Shortage of 1.5 Million Managers and Analysts in the US Alone?

Facebook advertised a data scientist job to me on...  my Facebook pageThe original Harvard Business Review article at the top of this post also had this to say later on:

“Indeed, the shortage of data scientists is becoming a serious constraint in some sectors.”

– From the HBR Article

The way I see it, shortage for them could mean opportunity for us.

“OK, I’m Interested.  But What IS a Data Scientist?”

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Monday Bonus: Last Week’s Big Data NYC Slides

 Last week’s post proved to be very popular, and I received many requests for the slides. Well the slides didn’t really capture everything – so much was covered purely in the demos or my talking points. So I just invested an hour or so in capturing some of that extra stuff into the slides themselves.  Still not perfect of course, but…  closer. View and download the slides here.

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Big Data is Just Data, Why Excel “Sucks”, and 1,000 Miles of Data


***UPDATE:  Slides uploaded here.


One of My Slides From Last Night – Equally Relevant to Excel, BI, DB, and Big Data Pros

Had a great time last night at the NYC MSBIgData group.  I’ve never spoken to a group quite like last night’s, but I struggle to explain how they were different.  It’s easier to explain what they were not.  Even though the user group is a Big Data and BI user group, they were not a Hive/Hadoop crowd, which shouldn’t have surprised me – there aren’t enough Hive/Hadoop people in the world to really have crowds of them laying around, at least not yet.

But there also wasn’t critical mass of seemingly any other discipline – not BI, not Excel, not DBA, not SharePoint, not programmer.  There were some people from each of those backgrounds but no more than 10% of each.

I think my best assessment is that they were simply a group of people who DO things.  A very pragmatic collection of flexible people.  People who happily use different tools to solve different problems.  I find that fascinating all on its own.

(If you were at last night’s talk, please replace every instance of the word “they” above with the word “you.” Smile)

Big Data is Just Data, and Hadoop is Just a Way to Store Lots of It

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