DateTime columns can be tricky for analysis purposes. They don’t work well with Pivot Tables because of the time part, each value seems unique to the Pivot Table & it also creates problems while creating relationships with Date Dimensions. And so, It’s a common need to convert them to just Date before analyzing data & also a common need to create a relationship between the Date (and not DateTime) with Date Dimension Table.
So if it’s possible, I try to do the data type conversion in the source system query. If your source system is SQL Server, you could use this piece of code:
select [your-fields],cast([DateTime_Col] as date) as Date_Col from TableName
Doing the data type conversion upfront in the source system query is a good thing to do. And I hope this is helpful.
Power BI is an exciting new technology in the business analytics space from Microsoft. I’ve played with its current preview version & attended couple of sessions on Power BI at PASS Summit 2013. Based on my first impression, I noted down Problems that Power BI solves. Note that as of today, it’s in preview & so information around cost is not availale yet but I try to learn and understand as much as I can Today about how Power BI is going to help business users & power users in the future. As a part of that, I’m attending Business Analytics VC’s session on “Power BI Info Management and Data Stewardship” by Matthew Roche & Ofer Ashkenazi on Nov 7th 12 PM EST.
Topic: Power BI Info Management and Data Stewardship
“Business intelligence tools continue to improve, letting users shorten their time to insight and take that insight to more devices in more places. But this evolution of BI doesn’t change one fundamental fact of information management: You can’t gain insight from data you can’t access.
In this session, Matthew Roche and Ofer Ashkenazi will introduce the role of the data steward and the self-service information management capabilities included in Power Query and Power BI for Office 365, focusing on how Power BI empowers business users to add value to the organization.”
I recently volunteered at Business Analytics VC as VP of Marketing, so it’s in my interest to spread word about the event but I would not spread word about something unless it gets me personally excited about it! 🙂
I hope to see you at the session and for some reason if you can not make it, we usually record sessions & so you can check out the meeting archives section of the PASS BA VC site after the event.
There’s one thing common between Excel Macro and a Data warehouse: They help an analyst automate tedious tasks. Macro helps automate some of the common excel tasks. Data Warehouse helps analyst automate their “data cobbling/gathering” process. So recently I worked on a task to extract business logic from an Excel 2010 macro. Here’s what I did:
3) Now once the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications Dialog box opens up, you should see a macro code. Now do NOT press F5 to run the macro! Instead, go to your first line of code and press F8, this will run the macro one line at a time. Open up your excel sheet that had this macro (in second monitor) and see what happens! [Productivity Tip: You don’t need secondary monitor for this but if you do then it will boost your productivity]
The key as you can imagine is to execute the macro one line at a time & visualize it the second monitor. it gives you a good sense of what’s happening (even if you don’t know how to write macro) and you should be able to understand the macro code or document it for data modeller or BI Dev’s so that they can encapsulate the logic in Data Warehouse/Cubes. Or you might be an excel pro trying to understand someone’s macro, then this trick works there too!
1) I’ve shown the steps that I took in Excel 2010. I haven’t tested if it works with other versions
2) I am not an Excel Macro Expert so If there is a better way, I’d be happy to learn about it. I just happened to figure this out & it helped me understand the logic hidden in a 1300+ lines of macro code.
That’s about it for this post. your feedback is most welcome!
I’m at PASS Summit 13 this week and I’m seeing nice amount of excitement among Business Intelligence Pros about “Power BI” so I thought I would post a brief post about problems that Power BI addresses:
#1: Mobile BI:
The Visualizations that you’ll publish to Power BI sites would use the HTML 5 rendering & hence the support for Mobile BI.
There’s also a native Microsoft Power BI app for Windows 8 so you can use surface tablets for Mobile BI. IOs (apple) or Android native apps have NOT been announced yet.
#2: An end-to-end self-service suite of tools for Power Users:
Users will be enabled to search, analyze and visualize data using Power Query, Power Pivot & Power View. Plus it allows them a way to collaborate with each other.
#3: Easier way to search for data that’s available inside & outside for organization:
One of the key themes of “Power BI” has been easier discovery of data that’s available to you to analyze.
This is really important from an adoption standpoint because with the technologies that we have today, we can’t enable power users to search for “data-sets”. Power BI enables IT to publish Data Catalogs which I imagine would make it easier for power users to search & connect to data sets & start analyzing!
#4: cool tools that people *want* to use it.
Power BI has rich user experience.
Users can build cool visualizations & create some business value
Since this is a “self-service” suite, it seems to be designed as a user-friendly set of tools. This is important because if a user is “confused” or “over whelmed” then they are not going to use the tool & find something else.
#5: Gateway to the future:
The Human-computer interaction is evolving. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen tools like Siri (apple audio powered personal assistant) which allows users to use “Natural Language” to interact with computers
Power BI has a tools called “Q&A” that allows users to do business analysis using “Natural Language”. I don’t know the maturity of the current offering but I’m excited about the possibilities that this could offer in future!
Imagine a computer (in some amazing futuristic form) and you say to it “sales trend in north america region during past 12 months” and it gives a you nice trend chart that you can use to start analysis.
Cost-benefit analysis of this cloud-powered suite of tools*
(Book Mark for future editing: The cost of the tool & its general availability is not announced, so I didn’t talk about the cost-benefits that we might see so I’ll defer this analysis until after the details are announced)
What do you think? What are the problems and pain-points that Power BI is trying to solve?