Coming Soon to an… Everywhere Near You Smile

(OK so I said this post was coming on January 2nd, but really I meant the 3rd since today is Tuesday.  Apologies for being so late in the day though). 

Well it’s been a refreshing holiday season.  I actually did a lot less work than I planned.  That’s mostly a good thing, but I committed to a bunch of new things too, so I better have fully-charged batteries rolling into the new year.

So, why do I think 2012 will be the year of PowerPivot?  Well, the first reason is that…  2013 isn’t here yet Smile.  Because I am quite certain that every year will be a bigger year for PowerPivot than the previous.  For a long time.

But 2012 will be the first year where we all start running into PowerPivot in places where we weren’t looking for it.  I certainly see plenty of PowerPivot adoption in places that we all might consider “unlikely,” but I find out about those cases because those people reach out to Pivotstream for assistance.  It’s not like I’m stumbling on it.

But I think that changes in 2012.  I think we will start running into PowerPivot through random personal connections, because its adoption has just reached that point.

I’m increasingly meeting “High Priests” coming downstream while I am paddling upstream.  Lately I keep finding myself on so-called “sales” calls with people who have been using PowerPivot for awhile and glimpsing its potential, and THEY start telling ME why they think PowerPivot is a game-changer.  Not only that, but their reasons, their “talking points” if you will, are as crisp as anything I have ever captured on the blog.  That certainly gets my attention.

Reason #1:  My Uncle-in-Law Savvies the PowerPivot?

A funny thing happened over the holidays.  My wife and I were visiting her family in Chicago, and the usual “so what are you up to these days” type of holiday party chatter ensued.  Her uncle owns his own video editing business, and when he heard the word “PowerPivot,” he said:

         “Hey I edited a video on PowerPivot last year!”

I am not accustomed to this sort of thing yet.  People who aren’t spreadsheet or SharePoint or BI pros really have no reason to know about PowerPivot at this point.  So my response was naturally something like “are you SURE it’s PowerPivot?  Was it computer related?”  Turns out, it was an Intel video from TechEd 2010, which I even attended:


Not the best video in terms of content, but the editing is SUPERB

OK, yeah, it’s from a year and a half ago, so it’s not exactly a sign of a recent tipping point. 

But it’s still my first-ever completely random, “normal, non-number-crunching-person has a connection to PowerPivot” moment.  I expect to have many more of these in 2012.

Reason #2:  Blog Stats on the Rise, with an Exponential Flavor

PowerPivotPro.com enjoys a decent page ranking in the search engines, as evidenced by a quick google of the term “PowerPivot.”  As such, I tend to regard traffic here as a decent indicator of overall PowerPivot adoption and awareness.

I’ve guarded these stats closely for a long time now (mostly out of insecurity, and not knowing what counts as “good” traffic for a blog).  But the trend I have been watching is interesting, and I want to provide some detail.

The blog had its first full month in November 2009, about 6 months before PowerPivot v1 was released.  Here is a graph of total page views per month going back to the beginning:

PowerPivotPro Monthly Blog Views Since Inception

PowerPivotPro Monthly Blog Views Since Inception

Notice how the little orange trendline doesn’t actually keep pace with the recent traffic numbers?  That’s because we’ve seen an inflection point this Fall.  A sharp rise.

Curious as to what this would look like just over the last eighteen months, I filtered it down:

PowerPivotPro Monthly Blog Views Since PowerPivot V1 Release Date

PowerPivotPro Monthly Blog Views Since PowerPivot V1 Release Date

That’s probably a better indication of trend, since those 18 months roughly correspond to the time since PowerPivot v1 was released.

Now if we extend the trendline out another six months into the future, we see that we’re trending toward 35,000 a month by June, about 3x what it was the same time in 2010.

Same as Previous Chart But Projected Six Months Into the Future

Same as Previous Chart But Projected Six Months Into the Future

Lastly, it’s instructive to look at the data in “year over year” fashion:

PowerPivotPro Monthly Blog Views Since Inception, Year over Year

PowerPivotPro Monthly Blog Views Since Inception, Year over Year

See how the gain from is bigger from 2010-2011 than it was from 2009-2010?  That’s an example of exponential growth:  the audience is growing at a rate that is proportional to the existing size of said audience.  

One of the hallmarks of exponential growth is that it tends to seem slow at first, because the size of the population is also small at that point.  Later, once it has a good foothold, it surprises you with startling increases in a short period.  This is literally the way that viruses and bacteria multiply, and when something spreads “virally,” it follows this sort of a curve.

For examples of this, see my reference to the “magic eyedropper” story near the end of a previous post, and here’s an article that explains how plants/gardens follow the same sort of growth curve.

Typical Example of Linear vs. Exponential Growth:  Seemingly Slow, then Explodes

Typical Example of Linear vs. Exponential Growth:
Note How the Exponential Curve Seemingly Goes Nowhere for Awhile,
Then Starts to Pick Up, Then Goes Literally “Viral”

Reason #2a:  A Past Observation by Bill Baker

I was at a TDWI conference in San Francisco about seven or eight years ago where I attended a panel discussion.  Bill Baker was one of the three panelists.  Bill was asked if he thought a particular technology (I think it was web services like SOAP) was going to be a big deal or a one-hit wonder.

I really liked his answer, which was to point out that we often tend to OVER-estimate a new technology’s impact when we look ONE year into the future, but we tend to UNDER-estimate its impact FIVE years in the future.  In other words, “hot” technologies tend to “disappoint” at the one year mark, but by the five year mark, they often have quietly popped up everywhere.

Today, it struck me that Bill’s answer is really just the anecdotal way of describing exponential growth:  something that spreads by word of mouth, by example, by experimentation, and by proving itself the hard way, rather than being adopted on command.  I’m pretty sure Microsoft wishes it could command this one, but it won’t have to.

OK, on Thursday we have a killer new post by the esteemed Mr. Churchward.  Stay tuned Smile