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

October 28, 2014

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

Read the rest of this entry »


Webinar Wednesday on Cloud-Based Dashboards

December 4, 2012

image

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:

Read the rest of this entry »


Free Site Signup: Wave One Open

November 7, 2012

 

***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

image

Excel Pros Don’t Always Dress Like This of Course, But It’s Still a Great Picture

Following up from yesterday’s post, here’s the link for the free site signup:

<Link removed, wave one full>

Bring it on Smile

Minimal Handholding is Intentional

One of our goals here is to see how understandable our whole system is, so we’re trying to keep “human handholding” to a minimum and see where/if people stumble.

Go watch yesterday’s video if you haven’t already.

Then there are support forums available to you once you have your site.  See if you can find them.  I’m intentionally NOT telling you HOW to find them Smile

That said, if you have outright “I can’t go any farther and am completely stumped” problems and can’t get to the forums for some reason, hit me up with a mail.  I’m rob.  At a place called powerpivotpro.  Dot com.


Cloud PowerPivot to Launch Free Offering

November 6, 2012

 

***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

image

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:

Read the rest of this entry »


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

November 1, 2012

image

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…)

image

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…

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.

image

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 »


Early Tuesday Post: The “Hero Report”

August 6, 2012

 

image

A Post That Just Refused to Wait for Tuesday

I’m Looking for a Few Good Pivot Pros

If you’re an Excel Pro (which I define simply as “one who creates PivotTables”), and you’ve been using PowerPivot, I want your help for a semi-radical side project I’ve been thinking about.

I want to ask you a few questions, either in email or on the phone.  That’s it – basically I need a focus group off of which I can bounce a few ideas before making those ideas public.

If you’re selected to participate, there WILL be compensation.  That will either be a $50 gift card, some free Pivotstream services, and/or a direct line to me for some PowerPivot questions.

So if you’re interested, please drop me a note at the following address:

***UPDATE – the survey program is closed to new participants at this time, the response was overwhelming!

What’s a Hero Report?

I love this term, but I didn’t invent it.  Credit goes to John, one of my colleagues at Pivotstream.  He talks to a lot of Excel Pros every day, even more than I do, and he tells stories like the following all the time:

Read the rest of this entry »


PowerPivot V2 – To The Cloud!

August 2, 2012

Power View Report From PowerPivot V2 (2012) Workbook Running on Pivotstream Cloud Platform

My First Real Experiment with Power View – Built From a PowerPivot V2 XLSX!
(Running on our New V2 Cloud PowerPivot Platform)

Lots of Work Pays Off

The #1 question I hear every day is “when will Pivotstream offer support for V2 on their cloud platform?”  And in fact, that’s maybe the #1 question that I ask of the team every day, too.

There’s a lot of demand for it, given all the new bells and whistles in the V2 release.  But we’re no longer a fledgling little operation – we can’t just upgrade everyone overnight.  Actually, we could, but that would be irresponsible – we have to make sure none of our customers get burned in the process, and huge software releases like V2 have a tendency to be…  finicky.  If we upgrade everyone and things start breaking, saying “it’s Microsoft’s fault” is not an answer – we have to hold ourselves to a higher bar.

So our V2 cloud platform is a completely separate and parallel investment – new hardware, new domains, new base URL’s, etc.  A lot of time and money, in other words.  So if you’ve been wondering “what the heck are they waiting for,” now you know.

In Private Beta Now, Sign Up for the Public Beta

Read the rest of this entry »


Insight as a Service – Your Next Career?

June 19, 2012

McKinsey Report on How "Ripe" Various Industries are for IaaS (I disagree about some of these)

Is Your Brain More Valuable Than You Know?

A Hot New Industry that Could (Should!) Be Dominated By Excel Pros

I read an interesting article the other day about a new type of Cloud Business Intelligence dubbed “Insight as a Service” (IaaS).

If you’re a BI Pro I recommend you read it carefully. If you’re an Excel Pro I recommend you give it a quick skim just to get the flavor of it.  It’s a good article.  Well-written, thoughtful, and imbued with the author’s experience (and as a venture capitalist, his experience reflects a broad cross-section of industries and firms).

But ironically, I believe that IaaS is MUCH more relevant to the Excel Pro than the BI Pro.  Most Excel pros are already in the IaaS business, but it just isn’t called that.

Read the rest of this entry »


“Drill Across” in PowerPivot – Live Demo

May 24, 2012

Hyperlinks in a Pivot

“I’m telling you there are monkey-fighting hyperlinks in this Monday-to-Friday pivot!”

(Seriously this is how they cleaned up his line for TV, with “monkey-fighting” and “Monday to Friday”)

***UPDATE:  I am no longer working at Pivotstream and do not endorse their services.  All links are removed from this article but feel free to look them up if you are interested.

 

 

 

 

Retailer Competitive Overlap Application – New and Improved Live Demo

PowerPivot Retailer Competitive Overlap Application With Drill Across

Revamped/Simplified “Retailer Competitive Overlap” Application
(Note that the Row Labels Area of the Pivot Contains Hyperlinks!)

Clicking an Item to Get More Detail

The retailer overlap application is one that I’ve covered before, in my post announcing our live PowerPivot demo site, but I’ve recently spent some time improving it based on customer feedback and requests.

Specifically, our retail customers have asked the following:  “It’s great that I can see that Retailer X competes with me for our senior citizen customers much more aggressively than we thought, but can I get a list of the actual stores that overlap, with addresses?”

 

image

But WHICH Stores?  I Want to See the Addresses!

Hyperlinks in a Pivot!?

Let’s zoom in on the row area of the pivot pictured above:

image

Read the rest of this entry »


Cloud PowerPivot: Free Trials for the Public

April 26, 2012

image

image

Actual Web Browser Screenshots of PowerPivot Sites:
Example of Homepage (top) and Report Page (bottom)

***UPDATE:  I am no longer working at Pivotstream and do not endorse their services.  All links are removed from this article but feel free to look them up if you are interested.

Want to see (and share) your workbooks on the web?

For a few months now we’ve been running free 30-day free trials where you can:

  1. Upload workbooks to the Pivotstream cloud
  2. Interact with them in the browser
  3. Securely share them with colleagues, even if they don’t have PowerPivot or Excel 2010 installed

Read the rest of this entry »