SQL Server PowerPivot: My Thoughts

This blog post was well overdue for me personally. I did blog about The Top 5 Reasons Your Company Should Consider SQL Server PowerPivot but that was all I said.  I’ve been using SQL Server PowerPivot off and on for a few months now, been provided some great help by the product teams/fellow MVPs, and have been reading other’s thoughts and technical content on the product even longer. Finally, this blog post is not an official product review, merely my own personal thoughts on SQL Server PowerPivot and its related topics. There is a difference in giving out one’s own thoughts and opinions on a topic and that of an official review.

I have one basic premise for this post: SQL Server PowerPivot is going to be a long-term win for Microsoft Corporation. The product will not be a direct, immediate, quick win. Rather, the product will slowly and yet continuously provide increased levels of business value, grabbing higher levels of customer adoption, and as a result vastly contribute to the Microsoft BI platform’s overall market positioning and share as time passes. “BI for the Masses" continues to advance onwards. And as a result here is a second premise: start learning SQL Server PowerPivot! While I’m at it here is a third: SQL Server PowerPivot will increase the utility and demand for Corporate BI.

Perhaps you are thinking “well gee anyone could say that and be right”? You’d be right (assuming the product does well) but let me explain the reasoning behind my premise. And please feel free to leave your own thoughts and opinions here at my blog.

Self-Service Business Intelligence (SSBI) is still fairly new. Most enterprises have not yet adopted SSBI solutions as they are still working away at getting Corporate BI right. In the next ten years, as an industry, we will see the beginning of main stream adoption of SSBI solutions. Yes, I know, “XYZ Company is doing SSBI today” but look at the other 30 companies who are not doing SSBI today.

Enterprises will continue to prioritize Corporate BI solutions over SSBI ones. SSBI products provide their highest levels of potential value when used in conjunction with an established Corporate BI vision and associated solution(s). SSBI is but one part of the larger puzzle; it is not the entire puzzle. Those are bold statements, feel free to “blast me” in the comments here at my blog.

Finally, I look to the competing SSBI landscape as we know it today and what is Microsoft putting into place (good or bad). I’m not going to tell you SQL Server PowerPivot is the perfect SSBI product. What I will tell you is that for a v1 SSBI product it’s good, real good. One feature of the product that I think Microsoft hit the nail on the head with is that SQL Server PowerPivot is Managed Self-Service and the product encourages managed usage. What the product team does with SQL Server PowerPivot for v2 and beyond is what counts most. At this point I am confident that customers are taking notice and will begin to consider the product’s long-term adoption. There are some “pickle” scenarios still to be figured out, but I have confidence in the product teams, after all just look at SQL Server 2008.

Take a weekend and learn SQL Server PowerPivot, it will be time well spent.


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