Data Nirvana: Power Pivot, OData, and Acumatica ERP

June 4, 2015

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Choose Your Big Data Bonus Topic!

August 14, 2013


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 the virtual student chair for this one.

You have a chance to fine-tune the “flavor” of that free bonus module by voting on Denny’s site – if you are enrolled, or plan to enroll, I encourage you to vote:

Did Someone Say Big Data?

March 14, 2013

Visualizing "Big Data," heh heh

How Did I Not Think of THIS Until Today???


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 my next adventure.  I look forward to that day with great anticipation, and it now feels a lot closer.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime this is going to have to pass for my post today.  I hope it makes you giggle Smile

And remember, Big Data is just another place where Excel pros are becoming increasingly relevant thanks to our PowerPivot-turbocharged toolset.

Either that, or it’s a Statue-of-Liberty-sized Brent Spiner.

Job openings on PDW team at MS in California

December 4, 2012

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 Smile

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 to help build the future of big data on distributed systems – on both on-premise appliances and in the cloud.  

So if you live in southern California or want to, have a proven track record of delivering solutions in this area, love big data and the kind hardware it lives on, shoot him a note at

Having fun? It’s absolutely crazy here. We’re just wrapping up our second major version of SQL PDW and looking at what’s next. Business good and looks to take off. So we’re staffing up across disciplines – so if you know of someone personally that might be interested, I’d love a reference. You likely know this – it’s super difficult finding someone talented enough to help us and strengthen the team.



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

October 18, 2012


“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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Can PowerPivot Pros Call Themselves Data Scientists?

October 16, 2012

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?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Monday Bonus: Last Week’s Big Data NYC Slides

October 15, 2012

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.

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

October 9, 2012


***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

Read the rest of this entry »

Mini Post: Speaking in NYC on Monday

October 3, 2012


I’m really excited to announce that I will be speaking at the Microsoft offices in Manhattan Monday evening next week!  Talk starts at 6 PM and we have the room until 8:30 PM, so there will be plenty of time for questions and informal discussion after I’m done.

imageWhat’s even cooler for me is that this group, MSBIgDataNYC, is run by Andrew Brust, CEO of Blue Badge Insights and the author of the Big Data Blog on ZDNet

I’ve been following Andrew’s work ever since I started the blog in 2009 and have had the pleasure of participating in a few of his events at conferences, but never on his home turf.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken at ANY event in New York City.  I generally don’t get nervous about speaking engagements anymore, but I confess to a few butterflies of anticipation for this one Smile

I believe there are seats still available but move fast just in case:

Click Here to Reserve a Seat

And remember, you do NOT have to be a BI pro or Big Data specialist to attend!  If you’re an Excel practitioner, show up and hold your head high.  You will like what I have to say.

Do You “Savvy” Big Data?

June 28, 2012


(The use of this word as a verb was my favorite part of those movies –
use it sparingly to liven up informal meetings!)

What Counts as Big Data?

We recently received some advice, from some very smart and well-connected people, that we should be using the term “Big Data” in our marketing.  After all, it’s a hot term.  But sophisticated sources of advice like the one in question aren’t slaves to what’s hot.  They are shrewd followers of what everyone ELSE thinks is hot.  And when these people say “use this term,” they don’t do so lightly.

Now, some of the PowerPivot models we build at Pivotstream have hundreds of millions of rows of data in them.  By any reasonable metric, that is big.  And when you consider that PowerPivot is a free extension to Excel, the world’s most popular analytics and reporting tool, PowerPivot may already be the world’s most ubiquitous Big Data tool.

So I think we qualify to use the term.  But most of our Cloud PowerPivot customers, at least so far, aren’t using nearly that volume of data.  Tens of thousands of rows is much more the norm, which is something Excel has always “done.”

So while a marketing mind sees “hot term” and immediately begins throwing it around like candy, a more analytical type of guy like me wants to make his peace with it first.

Some of my conclusions lead me to believe that YOU in fact may already be doing a flavor of big data, and could fairly lay claim to it.  Join me on my journey :)

Read the rest of this entry »