Every Data Analyst Needs to check out this FREE excel add-in: Power Query!

Standard

Power Query is amazing! It takes the data analysis capabilities of Excel to whole new level! In this post, I am going to share three reasons:

1. it enables repeatable mash-up of data!

Have you every had to do your data analysis tasks repeatedly on the data with same structure? Do you get “new” data every other week and need to go through the same data transformation workflow to get to the data that you need?

What’s the solution? Well, you can look at MACRO’s! Or you can request your IT department to create a Business Intelligence platform. However, what if you need to modify your data mashup workflow then these solutions don’t look great, do they now?

Don’t worry! Power Query is here!

It enables repeatable mashup of data like you might have never seen before! You need to try it to believe.

It’s very easy to input new data to Power Query and it enables you to retrieve final output based on new data using a “refresh” feature.

Each data-mashup is recorded as steps which you can go back and edit if you need to.

Power Query Refresh

2. It’s super-flexible!

Any data mashup performed using Power Query is expressed using its formula language called “M”. You can edit the code if you need to and as you can imagine such a platform enables much-needed flexibility for the analyst’s.

3. It has awesome advance features!

Do you want to Merge data? How about Join? Are you tired with VLOOKUP’s! Don’t worry! it’s super easy with Power Query! Here’s a post: Join Excel Tables in Power Query

How about Pivot or Unpivot? Done! Check this out: Unpivot excel data using Power Query

How about searching for online & open data sets? Done!

How about connecting to data sources that “Data” section of Excel doesn’t support yet? (Example: Facebook) – DONE! Power Query makes that happen for you.

And That’s not a complete list!

Plus you can unlock the “Power” (pun intended) of Power Query by using it with other tools in Power BI Stack. (Power Pivot, Power View, etc…) OR you can use the your final output from Power Query with other tools too! After all it’s an excel file.

Action-Item!

If you haven’t already then check out Power Query! it’s free and works with Excel 2010 and above.

Author: Paras Doshi

What Problems does Power BI solve?

Standard

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?