A New Kind of Secret Formula: BI Director Leaves Coca-Cola to Become Power Pivot Professional

April 24, 2014

Matt Allington

This Man Just Walked Away from His 25-Year Career at Coca-Cola
to Become a Power Pivot Professional.
(And the Short List of Rob’s Favorite People Grows by One)

I Am Not Making This Up

Seriously, this is the Truth.  Matt Allington, pictured above, was until recently the BI Director for the entire Asia-Pacific region at Coca-Cola.

And he recently turned in his resignation – to join OUR ranks.  He sees the same sort of promise here that I first glimpsed in early 2010 – that “New and Better Way” thing.

From Coca-Cola to PowerPivotThis isn’t just an “Excel Pro.”  No, this is someone who has “been around the block” with data tools of all shapes and sizes.  A savvy and respected leader from the BI profession – and not from a small company.

I’m torn on how to describe my reaction.  On one hand, of course, I am not surprised.  When you truly believe in something (as I DO with this Power Pivot stuff), you’re never really shocked when someone else agrees with you.  If you are, you didn’t really believe all that deeply or honestly right?

But at the same time?  HOLY SHIT EVERYONE, the BI Director for Coca-Cola Asia Pacific just jumped ship for the Power Pivot revolution!!!!  Anyone know how many synonyms there are for “awesome?”  Cuz I think I’m going to use every one of them.

An Unexpected Client Development

Back in September, I got an email from a guy named Matt who wanted some quick help with Power Pivot.  Then I noticed Coca-Cola.com as his email address, and THEN I noticed his title.  Hey, I was flattered to help.

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Self Serve BI Adoption: the Relative Roles of People, Technology, the Business, and IT

April 22, 2014

Guest Post by Tim Rodman, currently blogging about Acumatica ERP @ www.PerpetualAcumaticaLearner.com

Self-Service BI and Power Pivot Barriers To Entry
They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom Self-Service BI and Power Pivot.

Brief Intro from Rob:  Tim has a great “backstory.”  He found out about Power Pivot in the “usual” way – via a completely random coincidence.  I taught a private class to a firm here in town a couple years back, and one of the attendees (a guy named Andy) lived a few houses down the street from Tim.  Sitting outside at a summer barbecue, Andy mentioned Power Pivot to Tim, Tim said “what’s that?” and six months later Tim was a speaker at our Modern Excel User group.  I think he has some very interesting things to say here – very introspective and honest.  Worth a read for everyone.

Take it away Tim…

I’ve been thinking lately about Self-Service BI and barriers to entry. Now, when it comes to Self-Service BI, much of the focus is on the technology. Do you want to go with Microsoft, Tableau, something else? It seems to me like most of the content on the subject of Self-Service BI is focused on comparing the different technology offerings. I personally don’t know much about the gory details related to the technology behind these products, but I do think that too much attention is given to the technology and not enough attention is given to the people.

In my opinion, PEOPLE are the biggest barrier to entering the Self-Service BI age, not technology.  Note: for the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on Power Pivot since this is appearing on a Power Pivot blog.

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What is Power Pivot’s #1 Competitor?

January 21, 2014

 
Tableau Versus Excel.  Not Tableau versus Power Pivot.  That is telling, ye?

This Picture is a Hint.  An Admittedly Annoying Hint That Hounds me on Facebook.

“OK, way to make it super-obvious, Rob.  It’s Tableau, right?”

Actually, no.  It’s not Tableau.  And the Tableau advertisement above basically proves my point.

By far, the biggest “competitor” to Power Pivot is…  Excel itself. 

In other words, lack of awareness that Power Pivot even EXISTS is still the biggest “competitor” to Power Pivot today.

The Tableau marketing department is smart.  They know that “normal” Excel is their chief competitor.  And they know that “normal” Excel has some frustrating weaknesses when it comes to data analysis.

So they go right for the throat.  I salute and admire their savvy.  Which brings me to a movie quote.

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Power Pivot IS Enterprise BI: GNET’s Neelesh Raheja

December 5, 2013

Following Up on the Industrial-Strength Reality of our Favorite Toolset

8 Days is Average Time it Take for IT to Add a Column to a Report

A GNET Slide That I Plan to Steal.

Last week’s post about Power Pivot jobs at GNET really drew a lot of interest.  I was thrilled to see so many resumes come in.  A number of people were/are even willing to relocate across the country!  We swamped “poor” Neelesh, heh heh.  Good stuff folks.

But I also got a lot of questions – about their methodology, how to prepare oneself to play the “BIM” role in that system, how to get your own organization to see the promise of this approach, etc.

So I thought I’d interview Neelesh for the blog.  He accepted, and here we are Smile

Bill Hader wore a PowerPivotPro visor in "Hot Rod???"  SWEET!

Confirmation like this almost makes me jealous

True story:  In college, I (Rob) majored in Computer Science, Math, and Philosophy.  Trust me, that sounds more impressive than it was – I “gamed” the university system quite well and took a lighter course load overall than any of my friends.  (I graduated Magna Cum Lazy.)

So I wrote a lot of Philosophy papers while my more responsible peers were learning to program in C++.  Which was fine, because I was a lot better at Philosophy papers than I was at programming.

In a few of those papers, I thought I “invented” a new concept that was groundbreaking.  Something that would shake the world of Philosophy to its very core.  Old men in tweed suits were going to carry me around on their shoulders chanting my name.  But then, back in reality, I discovered, a few weeks later, that some well-known philosopher had written about precisely that same thing decades ago.  Happened more than once.

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My Conversion to PowerPivot: Guest Post By Geoff McNeely

July 4, 2013

 
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Intro from Rob:  I may be hopped up on painkillers at the moment, but when a story needs to be told as badly as this one does, I can still spot it.  This is precisely the kind of transformation I see as the future for determined Excel Pros.  Let’s call it The Journey.  And it’s always good to hear from folks who are already on that journey, and proving that it’s a reality.  So I’m gonna get out of the way – mostly! – and let Geoff tell us his tale.

Hi there folks. I’m Geoff McNeely (@geoster on Twitter, or find me on LinkedIn) and I’ve guzzled the Kool-Aid. I’ve been using PowerPivot for several months now, I have Rob’s book, and I gave my first peer presentation on PowerPivot in May. Go ahead and call me an evangelist. I’m a believer!

So when Rob gave me the opportunity to write a guest post it was like one of those moments…you know, like will I go crawl under a rock and forget I ever aspired to write anything, or will I engage and make it happen?

I’m gonna go with “Engage, Maverick!”

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The Ideal PowerPivot Professional: How to Hire, Grow, or Become One

June 6, 2013

 
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…But Don’t Expect Us to Wear Suits OK?

Got a great question in email yesterday from a potential training/consulting client.  Paraphrasing:

“…what’s the best way for our company to get the required PowerPivot/Financial analysis skills? Should we be hiring for them, developing them in-house or outsourcing them to other organizations?”

As I was replying to the email I realized this was a good topic to discuss publicly.  How should your organization find the right PowerPivot people?

The answer to this question, of course, is also quite relevant to the budding PowerPivot professional – the “Supply side” of the equation if you will – and therefore the majority of people reading this.  But I am going to approach the question from the employer side – the Demand side – because I think that’s the best way to answer the question for both parties.

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Friday Bonus: PowerPivot Discovers a New Form of Communication in the Animal World, Makes Headlines in Science!

March 8, 2013

 
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A Sampling of Headlines From the Past 24 Hours Smile

Remember the Sniffing Project?

If you were reading this blog a year ago, you may remember the “peak detection,” “fuzzy overlapping timeframes,” and “converting from peaks to frequencies” posts.

Among other things, that series gave us one of my favorite pivots of all time:

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Those posts stemmed from my work with my neighbor, Dr. Daniel Wesson (I like to call us “Datasmith and Wesson” when we collaborate, btw).

He was hot on the trail of something AMAZING, but I wasn’t able to share the results until now:

He’s discovered a new form of communication between animals.  (Well, the communication method isn’t new to the animals themselves, but science wasn’t aware of it.)  And the world’s news and science sites are abuzz with it.  You could say they are….  hyperventilating?  (Said in best Dr. Evil voice, with pinky finger raised).

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PowerPivot Beats IBM/Cognos: Textbook Example of ROI (and Going Beyond “Informal BI”)

June 21, 2012

 
My Favorite PowerPivot Case Study to Date

We recently completed our second joint case study with Microsoft, describing the work we did with one of our Cloud PowerPivot clients, Building Materials Distributors.

This was a fun project to watch.  And that’s mostly what I did, was watch.  Because the good folks at BMD did the work – all we did was give them the environment in which they could do it.

A Quick Read, and Good Justification!

It’s basically a one-page case study and a very quick read.  I don’t want to just duplicate it here, so I highly encourage you to go read it real quick, then come back here for the points I want to emphasize.

Click here to view the case study

imageI know, you don’t want to go read some boring case study.  Clicking links to other sites (especially “official” sites) really kinda sucks in general, I know that.  It’s more fun, frankly, to read sites where the author is allowed to use the word “sucks.”

But I think this one will come in handy for PowerPivot Pros who are advocating broader adoption at their companies.  You may know in your bones that PowerPivot will revolutionize the way your organization operates, but convincing others (especially non-Excel pros) can be tricky.  And let’s face it, blog posts on a site that uses the word “sucks” and features pictures of Samuel Jackson aren’t the most convincing evidence are they?

But big money savings, quick deployments times, and successful examples of PowerPivot “defeating” much more complex and expensive solutions, all packaged up in an official case study – that counts.

The Points I Want to Emphasize

Quickly and succinctly, here are the four things I would like to call out…

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