Reinventing an Industry: Welcome Avi Singh!

October 16, 2014

Post by Rob Collie

Our Merry Band Has Found Its Luke Skywalker

GENERAL MADINE:  “General Solo, is your Strike Team Ready?”
SOLO:  “We’re making huge strides.  The Death Star is Toast.”

Avi Singh Joins PowerPivotPro Full-Time!

Avi SinghFile under “Coup, Major.”  Folks, this is a CRAZY cool moment for us at PowerPivotPro.  We like to think of ourselves as the Rebel Alliance of Data, and seriously, we feel like we’ve found our Luke Skywalker.

That’s Right:  Avichal (“Avi”) Singh has left Microsoft to become a full-time member of the team here at PowerPivotPro.  Microsoft’s loss is our gain, which is…  ALSO Microsoft’s gain, ultimately.  Because in this role, Avi is going to “light up” people and organizations all over the world.  As opposed to performing data miracles strictly within the internal Microsoft org, he’s going to be helping MANY OTHERS perform their OWN miracles.  With MS’s platform, of course, which is great for them.

So hey Microsoft, please don’t be TOO upset with us for poaching him.  But really, we did nothing of the sort.  He um, kinda stalked US.  Let me explain.

To Build A Different Kind of Firm, You Need a Different Kind of Person

Avi Singh With Hand on Heart

I had just finished a presentation at BA CON ‘14 in San Jose, California – a presentation I had opened with the theme of “I have the best job in the world – I work in data, and I get to spread HAPPY wherever I go.”  (Which is the truth, btw).

Out in the hallway after the talk, I met Avi in person for the first time.  Like me at the time, you probably know Avi primarily through the excellent guest posts that he has penned from time to time. 

The written word does not do justice to the “in person” version of this human.  He is one of the absolutely most sincere, genuine, and positive people I have ever met, and that was clear in the first two minutes.  (If I say he’s in the Donald Farmer Zone, I mean it as a compliment to both gentlemen).

What followed was LITERALLY a “hand on heart” moment.  The very first thing Avi said to me, in reaction to the talk I’d just given, was to zero in on that “spreading HAPPY” theme.  He said something like “That’s so true, I’ve seen it!  And I feel it…  in my heart.”  And to emphasize that last part, he lightly bumped his fist to his heart.  That moment was so incredibly genuine, and conveyed several years’ worth of information in an instant:  this guy was special.

You kinda had to be there to see why that was so impactful, so convincing to me, but if you get to meet Avi in person, you will see what I mean.  And I think you will ALSO see what I mean in the coming months, as you hear from him more often on this site and in other media.

“Different” Kind of Firm?  “Reinventing” an Industry?

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Power Query Adds SalesForce Connectivity: Totally Awesome, But Trouble Looms Ahead

October 14, 2014

Post by Rob Collie

SalesForce Data Into Power Pivot / Power BI?  YES!

This is what it looks like when Microsoft Does Something Epically Awesome…
…But Dark Clouds Loom – Read on to Learn Why

We LOVE This!

Seriously, we do.  It’s AMAZING.  Multiple of our clients are going to jump all over this.  It’s going to change their culture – AGAIN.

If Power Query can connect to it, that lets you pull SalesForce data directly into Power Pivot.  No more export, save, import/paste/etc.

SalesForce Data Into Power Pivot / Power View? YES!

Power Query Can Import SalesForce Data Directly Into Power Pivot, Which Means You Can Then Visualize in Power View, For Instance

So, the primary point of today’s post is to make you aware of this new capability, and tell you how to get it.

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Reminder: Live Class in Philly in < 2 Weeks

October 10, 2014

Post by Rob Collie

PowerPivot University - Philadelphia

Final Reminder:  I Will Be in Philadelphia Oct 21-22, Teaching a Two-Day Class
(at the Microsoft Facility in Malvern, specifically)

  1. More Details
  2. Blog Post on Why You Should Attend
  3. Register

See you there!


How about a FIRSTDATE()?

October 9, 2014

Guest Post by Willem van Dijk

Intro

I am, like most (if not all) visitors to this website, an addict for information –> data –> truth –> Εμπειρία <-hope that sounds like Greek to you…

My journey into Power Pivot has been one of uphill struggles and downhill thrills. It’s been brief moments of ego feeding, immediately followed by lengthy bouts of meekness. One moment I am Indiana Jones going for his gun in The Raiders of the Lost Ark directly followed by the same scene in The Temple of Doom


Where did my DAX go?

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Blending “Time of Day” Analysis with Calendar/Date Analysis

October 7, 2014

Post by Rob Collie
 
Blending “Time of Day” Analysis with Calendar/Date Analysis in Power Pivot and Power BI

Our “Morning” Website Traffic is Down 21.5% in Jan 2014 vs. Jan 2013, But “Evening”
Traffic is Up by a Similar Amount, and Full-Day Traffic is “Flat” at +0.9%

(Fake Data, But Real Analysis)

Two Different Flavors of “Time”

Usually, when we talk about “time” in Power Pivot, we’re talking about the Calendar/Date flavor:  How much have things changed from yesterday to today.  What are our Month to Date numbers, and how do those compare against the same period last year?  Let’s call this “macro-trending.”

But time of day is also often interesting:  what are the trends WITHIN a day?  Let’s call this “micro-trending.”

And then, the hybrid of the two:  how are our “micro” trends changing over the course of the year, month, quarter, etc?

I don’t think the techniques here are terribly complicated, but they might be a little difficult to conjure up on your own.  So, it’s time for a post – and a downloadable workbook! Smile

The Key:  Separate the Date and Time Components!

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Winston Wolf Has a Power Pivot Job Opp For You

October 3, 2014

Post by Rob Collie

image

That’s a Pretty Badass Quote, Prominently Displayed When You Walk Into KAMAN HQ

Wanna Work for One of Our Coolest Clients?

imageMike Miskell is Winston Wolf.  That’s basically his job description.  When the executives at KAMAN identify a problem, they send The Wolf to fix it.  And The Wolf, is Mike Miskell.

Last year, The Wolf found Power Pivot.  Nine minutes and thirty-seven seconds later, KAMAN had revolutionized their entire culture around profitability.  (You get the 9:37 reference, Pulp Fiction fans?)

(For the record, I don’t think Mike has even SEEN Pulp Fiction.  He’s just The Wolf naturally.  And he promised me he’d watch the movie if I posted this.)

We even got on stage together, The Wolf and I, at PASS BA 2014 in San Jose to talk about the success of this project.

We then co-presented on a VERY different stage, last month, at the Secret Microsoft/PowerPivotPro Summit.

 

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5 Interactive Chart Techniques Come Together

October 2, 2014

by Matt Allington

Recently I have been building some interactive charts for one of my clients using techniques that I have learnt from powerpivotpro.com, from searching the Web, as well as some of my own ideas.  While some of the techniques I will talk about in this post are not new, I have combined some of these old favourites with some new techniques to solve some of the problems I have come across. I want to illustrate how the combination of these things can deliver a very positive user experience, and just as importantly – anyone with a good set of Excel skills can build an interactive charting tool like this by following the patterns demonstrated.  I have created a demo of all of these concepts into a new workbook using Adventure Works so that you can see how these techniques come together for the user.  There is a link to this workbook at the end of this post.

The techniques I have used are:

  1. Disconnected slicers used to create interactive chart series
  2. Cube formulae and standard Excel to make an interactive chart title

I love these 2 tips I learnt from Rob – so user friendly.  However I came across a few problems when I tried to implement these, hence I have developed the following 3 additional techniques to solve these problems.

  1. Cube formulae and standard Excel to make an interactive legend
  2. VBA and “link to source” for interactive axis formatting
  3. Excel VBA to change which Axis the series appears on.

I have created a short video to demonstrate the 5 features built into this workbook, and I then explain each of these in more detail below.  I have not hidden the behind the scene workings so you can see these in action – of course you would normally hide these from the user.

Now let me call out the key techniques I have used to make this workbook rock.
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“I Know SQL Queries, So Why Do I Need Power Pivot?”

September 30, 2014

Post by Rob Collie

because I am very familiar with databases and the ability to create custom SQL queries and data models using SQL Management Studio,  I struggle to see why I would need PowerPivot if I can do much of this heavy lifting using SMS.

Got This Question the Other Day, and it is LONG Overdue That I Answer It

Some of You Are Confused, Some Are Nodding

Generally speaking, I think the people reading this fall into one of a few camps:

  1. People who are early in their Power Pivot journeys, and who also do NOT know SQL (most Excel Pros fall into this camp at some point, before hopefully moving into group #2 below).
  2. People who are pretty good at Power Pivot, but do NOT know SQL (I fall into this group).
  3. People who are good at BOTH Power Pivot and SQL (this is a blessed group).
  4. People who are good at SQL but still early in their Power Pivot awareness/knowledge.

Group #4 is the “target audience” for today’s post, but it’s still relevant for groups 1-3, because we WILL get asked this same question from time to time, and it’s good for us to be able to answer.

“I Started Out as a DBA…”

SQL Queries as BI - More Common Than Really Any Other Method of "Official" BI

For Many People and Organizations, THIS is Business Intelligence
(And to a Certain Extent, This is Effective, So it Persists as a Workflow)

Let’s say you began life a a DBA.  Which means you know SQL, of course, but writing SQL is not the only thing you do as a DBA.  You’re maintaining indexes, watching for bottlenecks, talking about I/O, number of spindles, TempDB…  all that good DBA stuff that I understand at a conceptual level but have never learned to actually DO.

But one day, someone from the Business has a question.  They figure all the data required to answer it is “owned” by you, so they come to you with said question. 

And hey, it turns out that you CAN write some SQL and answer the question!  Which is pretty damn helpful and makes everyone involved feel pretty good.  (Hey, we are all still fundamentally wired for cooperation after all).  It also makes you more relevant to the front-line business, and no longer “just a cost center” from the perspective of the company’s leaders, which is VERY good for your career.

 

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Aussie Aussie Aussie! Pivot Pivot Pivot!

September 26, 2014

Post by Rob Collie

Just a quick reminder for our friends Down Under, make sure to catch the one and only Matt Allington at one of his upcoming classes in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney. 

I wouldn’t let just anyone teach my materials – Matt is one fantastic dude.  It will be fun, productive, and life changing.  I swear on the CALCULATE function.

2-day live Power PIvot training in Australia!


Leverage SharePoint for Rich User Interaction

September 25, 2014

Guest Post by Scott at Tiny Lizard

Hold onto your hats, my friends.  We have some pretty advanced stuff for you today!

If you host your workbooks on SharePoint, you are about to read some powerful techniques, and hopefully give you some “brain-fodder” for related ideas.  Even if you aren’t using SharePoint today… it’s worth reading to see the types of things possible with SharePoint, then you can refer back when SharePoint enters your life.

I am going to show two techniques to allow end-users to have some level of interaction outside the bounds of the workbook… say, to drive data into the underlying data sources.  The first technique is not nearly as fancy as the second…Smile

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Preview of New Website Content

September 23, 2014

Post by Rob Collie

image

The Three Primary Benefits of Power Pivot vs. “Traditional” Excel
(Click for Full-Size Version, and Please Share Your Thoughts in Comments!)

Changes Afoot

Some exciting things in the pipeline here at PowerPivotPro HQ.  Most of those will remain secret until next month, but one of them is a website overhaul – with Power Pivot adoption continuing to grow, website traffic also continuing to grow (more records fell last week!), and the site’s 5-year anniversary approaching, it’s time.

So today I’d like to get your feedback on some of the new content.

It’s all pictures, so I promise it’s light Smile

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Using SUMX on an IF statement–Call Center Example

September 18, 2014

Guest Post by Elin Ramsey

PowerPivotPro Intro: I love real world examples. They really show how the tool is being used and the challenges you may encounter in a real world situation (like not having access to all the data you need, read how Elin tackles that).

Note how Elin slowly builds this example and keeps layering business logic in the DAX formulas. This comes naturally to the Business User who is intimately familiar with the workings and what is actually needed from the data. Throw in a third party and suddenly the process becomes much more burdensome as two parties need to communicate back and forth. In fact majority of the cost of any project (including BI projects) is Communication, read more here.

Building BI Faucets Then PlumbingI will go out on a limb and say “Business Intelligence belongs to the Business User”. The BI team is necessary in building the plumbing, but Business User should firmly be in charge of building the faucets. And build faucets before the plumbing. That is one of the stops in Rob’s amazing story (read or watch) that he recounted at PASS BA Conference. Here’s to building faucets! Elin, take it away…


Intro

My name is Elin Ramsey and I work as the Analytics Manager in a call center. Click here to see more about me. I’ll be reviewing a real world application of SUMX on an IF statement, as recently described here.

One thing I need to be able to estimate is the number of active customer support representatives we have on any given day. I can’t use HR or timecard data as I don’t have access to it. Another challenge is that some representatives will sometimes be acting as trainers most of a day and we don’t want to count them then.

I’m going to walk through what my definition of active is, how we set up the data, calculating whether a representative is active on any given day, using SUMX to calculate the number of active reps on any given day, and then a couple of examples of what we can do after we have that formula.

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