Datazen = Beautiful Mobile Dashboards to Make Power Pivot Shine

Post by Rob Collie and Chris Finlan

Datazen:  A Beautiful, Mobile-Optimized Dashboard Delivery System That Makes Your Power Pivot Work Shine VERY Brightly

Datazen (The Latest Addition to Microsoft’s Suite of BI Tools) is a Mobile Monster
(Monster in a GOOD Way.  Yes, PowerPivotPro has its own DZ Custom Theme – You Can Too)

Datazen Q&A With Chris Finlan

***Intro from Rob:  Today I’m interviewing Chris Finlan of Microsoft about MS’s recent acquisition of Datazen, and what this means to us in the Power Pivot and Power BI community.

ROB:  Last month, Microsoft purchased a company named Datazen.  Most people had never heard of Datazen before, but you had pointed them out to me last summer I think.  You were already a big believer in them at that point, as were your customers.

CHRIS:  Yeah, I love Datazen.  I’m as passionate about it as you are about Power Pivot. I think it’s an extraordinary product, and have felt this way for quite some time Don’t believe me? Check out the date of my review in the Windows Store.  (Spoiler alert:  it was April of 2013 – that’s before I even applied for a job at Microsoft).

ROB:  You’re truly a trendsetter in tech and clothing.  I think one of the natural first reactions/questions from the community is, “wait, did MS just buy one of Power BI’s competitors, and if so, when do I use it versus, say, Power Pivot?”

CHRIS:  No, DZ was designed from the beginning to “only” be a visualization layer on top of the Microsoft Data Platform.  In your post on Visualizations Layers in Perspective: The Last Mile, you pointed out three key reasons at the end on why you’d buy a visualization tool.  Datazen checks all three boxes (and oh by the way, there’s no longer anything to buy – it’s simply a benefit you receive when you license SQL Server Enterprise with Software Assurance).

ROB:  Which means it’s free for many existing MS customers.  More on that later.  But I also want to talk about how DZ can be used to “light up” the great work being done by Power Pivot practitioners, because hey, that’s what we do around here.

Any Flat Table in Excel Can “Power” a Datazen Dashboard


EX:  Power Pivot Produces a Flat Pivot (or DAX Query Table),
and DZ Can Use That Excel File as a First-Class Data Source.
(The ONLY Server Required Here is a DZ Server – No SharePoint, No SQL, No SSAS)

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Insight Center: Azure-Based SharePoint / Power Pivot Server (Joint Solution with Microsoft)

Post by Rob Collie

Everyone Needs a Power Pivot Server.  The Flowchart Just Got an Exciting New Option.

Your Server Options:  Power BI Online, On Premises / Do It Yourself,
Third Party Cloud, and Now…  Insight Center!

Our Continuing Mission:  A Power Pivot Server in Every, Um, Driveway

Everyone, sing it with me:  “I’ve been wor-king on The Flow-chart, aalll the live-long daaay…”  Yes, The Flowchart.  The “yellow brick road” that helps lead your org to the Power Pivot server option best-suited for you.  (Why do you need a server?  Because it’s YouTube for Workbooks.) 

Drawing the flowchart is, of course, the easy part.  Making sure that it “ends” in a variety of dependable options – that fit varying budgets, infrastructures, and org sizes – well, THAT is the reason why the flowchart is taking this much time.

But said flowchart is getting closer – MUCH closer – to being ready.  We have been busy little beavers here at PowerPivotPro.  Crusaders for justice, as we oh-so-modestly think of ourselves, rarely get to rest.  The shortage of Power Pivot servers in the world is a humanitarian issue in our eyes.  (Yes, this paragraph was tongue-in-cheek.  Well, partly anyway.)

Until now, you’ve basically had three classes of option:  1) Install and Run Your Own Servers, 2) Subscribe to Power BI Online, or 3) Lease Space From Third Party (non-Microsoft) Cloud Providers.

All three of those options are good, viable choices, and remain so.  The Flowchart will soon help you choose between those, depending on Best Fit.  But recently it’s ALSO become clear that some organizations would benefit greatly from a Fourth Option.

And with that realization…  Insight Center was born.

Already Gaining Traction with Microsoft’s Enterprise Customers

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Webinar Wednesday on Cloud-Based Dashboards


Today’s “post” is actually going to be a series of small updates/announcements.

Connection Cloud is one of our new partners at Pivotstream.  They do something amazing:  they make your cloud data sources like SalesForce and Facebook look like normal databases.

Which means PowerPivot can connect to those sources and pull data just as easily as you pull data from a database like SQL or Access:

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Cloud PowerPivot to Launch Free Offering


***UPDATE – FULL: Wave one filled up fast, no need for 48 hours. We actually went over 100 during the night and hit about 130. We’re letting all of those in, but are taking down the signup form now.

Stay tuned for news about Wave Two Smile


If Ebenezer Scrooge Were Alive Today, He’d Use PowerPivot.  And He’d Love This Post.
(Believe it or not this is an original image I commissioned ten years ago)

Taking my “High Priest” Role VERY Seriously

There are a few themes that I just keep hammering on, month after month.  Most of those revolve around the stunning new future opening up for Excel Pros.  I believe every thing I say about that stuff.  It is REAL.

One of the biggest and most transformational changes is this:  taking your workbooks to the web.  Workbooks were being emailed around back when Roxette topped the worldwide music charts.  PowerPivot workbooks published to a server are a very, VERY different experience, one that inspires MUCH more respect from the person consuming them.

Short Version: Free Forever for Lighter Workloads

This week, Pivotstream is launching something that I’ve been dreaming about for a long time: a way for you (yes YOU, dear reader) to harness the power of PowerPivot server (publishing workbooks as interactive web apps)… for free.

Not a trial. This is more of a Dropbox-style model where lighter usage is completely free, and you only pay if you want more capacity.  I want to remove any barriers I can so that you can experience what I’m talking about (without bankrupting my company of course), and I think we’ve figured out how to do that.  But before I get into details, let me show you something.

Just Add Upload

Thanks to a recent focus group I recruited here on the blog, I learned that many people expect there to be some sort of intensive conversion process – it seems like you would need to put a lot of work into a workbook before it becomes an interactive web application like the ones on our demo site.

So I recorded a video showing that it’s much, MUCH simpler than that.  Just upload Smile

Upload and Share – Short Video Illustrating an Even Shorter Process Smile
(I recommend watching in HD and Fullscreen)

Benefits to Excel Pro

I didn’t have time to cover this in such a short video, so here’s a quick table comparing the old way to the new way, through the eyes of you, the Excel Pro:

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Announcing Pivotstream Ltd: Expanding to Europe, Led by David Churchward!


Pivotstream Jumps Over the Pond, Opening Office and Data Center in Europe

Happy to Finally Share the Secret!

Boy, I have been dying to share this, but had to wait until it was official:  David Churchward has joined Pivotstream and will be running our operations in Europe.

At a high level, this means a few things:

  1. We will be opening a data center in Europe – European customers who have desired a Cloud PowerPivot site (or one of our Insight as a Service solutions) have often needed the data to physically remain in the European Union (for legal and privacy reasons).  This will no longer be an obstacle.
  2. We will be doing more work in the finance, accounting, and CRM spaces.  David is a MACHINE when it comes to this stuff, as evidenced by his posts on this blog.  This expands our Insight as a Service capabilities in this space, but also gives us the ability to “seed” the broader PowerPivot world with templates – more on this later.
  3. I’ll be able to bug David a lot more often and not feel guilty about distracting him from his “real” job – part of his job now is to be pestered by me!  (Hmm, I DO suppose that works both ways…)


Pivotstream Ltd. – Tentative Logo is Nothing Fancy, All Business

Reinforcement of the Excel Revolution

Regular readers of this blog are familiar with me getting on a soapbox and proclaiming that the future of Excel, and Excel Pros, is exceedingly bright.  PowerPivot changes everything, including our careers.

The fact that I’ve spent the past three years making my living completely off of PowerPivot is testament to that.  It helps the credibility of my message, a lot, that I can say this:  I don’t just talk the story of this revolution, I live it.  I work it.  And it pays the bills.

But now, here’s another public confirmation of it:  It’s a major investment, opening a data center and offices in Europe.  It’s not a step we would take lightly.  You should take this as further confirmation that the world is changing in your favor.  And similarly, David would not have left his Director job at Azzurri to do this otherwise.

Speaking of which…

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