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Guest Post From Miguel Escobar!

Today we’re blessed with another guest post from Miguel Escobar.  I love the style of this one, and the movie industry tie ins of course.  I also really like that Miguel “detected” the similarity between Hans Rosling’s TED talk and the Power View demos that first emerged in 2011 – the first time I saw Power View, my immediate thought was “Amir is riffing on Hans Rosling” and I wondered how many other people were thinking the same thing.

But above all I love to hear people’s stories.  How they came to “get involved” in this stuff.  I would say Miguel falls somewhere on the more advanced end of the spectrum – even using the term “Self-Service BI” kinda gives that away – but the fact is that the worlds of BI and Excel are indeed converging.  So let’s hear Miguel’s story shall we?

-Rob

What has been the impact of Self-Service BI in our modern world?

Its self-service BI a good thing? heck yeah it is. You can bet on that BUT…is that such a good thing that would drive engagement of the users into actually transforming data into information and information into insights? and even further…decisions based on those insights?

3 years ago I couldn’t even think of having a great reporting and visualization tool at my reach because I couldn’t afford that and college tuition at the same time and then Powerpivot became available…how did it impact me and some of my friends?

Some Background History

When I first saw Hans Rosling Ted Talk when I was still in high-school, I couldn’t stop asking myself how he actually managed to create such a great software that obliterates BI solutions that were available during that time. Few years later, with more knowledge about reports, data, statistics and software’s available in the market, gapminder.org released a version of their software publicly so it can be consumed by anyone with an internet access. Sadly, if you wanted to change the dataset you would be facing a tremendous challenge since the software wasn’t designed to import new datasets but to consume the one that was already loaded in it.

That was back in 2010, and back then there were no easy to use or accessible (Free) tools that could use any particular dataset and bring the interactivity that was shown during the Ted Talks of Hans Rosling…at least not until 2011.

By 2011, Powerpivot was out and the Tabular Model was something that was gaining audience and then… it came the Power View presentation by Amir Netz using the data from Boxofficemojo.com at the PASS Summit Conference. When I saw that presentation, it felt like he was selling that tool directly to me as I was at that time working in the Theatrical Film Distribution industry (specifically 20Th Century Fox) and it was probably one of the first times that I could see a relevant comparison against Hans Rosling software…but at that time, it was only available through Sharepoint 2010 using SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services from either a Powerpivot Model or Tabular.

It wasn’t until 2012 when we first had the chance to get our hands into the Excel 2013 Preview where now the xVelocity was integrated with Excel and not something solely in Powerpivot and also the fact that Power View had a client-side inside Excel 2013. Now we had the chance to get that Hans Rosling feel with any dataset that we wanted right from the most familiar tool of any office worker (and anyone with Excel 2013 installed).

Microsoft did not stop there….they went ahead and created things such as:

Geoflow (3D Map Visualization and more)

Data Explorer (Extract, Transform and Publish any data from anywhere)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMMMNkPBPhI&hl=en&hd=1]

We could say that the tool that Hans shows us wins but Power View gets pretty close to the same experience. How close you  may ask?

There are still some functionalities that are not available in Power View like logarithmic scales, the way to defragment the bubbles into the subgroups and more but, think about this tool as the starter of a series of enhancements that will sure hit the market soon. Similar to what happened with Powerpivot v1 and how it looks and runs now (Comparing Powerpivot from 2009 against the one in Excel 2013 its like night & day)

In Conclusion

“The seemingly impossible is possible”

Yes, what I thought that could only be available through thousands of dollars worth of investment in corporate BI  in order to get the Hans Rosling reporting experience..its now incorrect thanks to Excel 2013.

We as users, the ones that didn’t have access before to BI but that are engaged in this fascinating world of BI, are now taking a much more active role in the discovery of insights around the world. We can now take the data and be able to create meaningful insights and create visually stunning-TEDtalk like reports and share them. We could even go further as to using these new tools for our Countries and help to reach clear insights that could potentially reshape our world by starting from our counties or states.

Self-Service BI will prove to be one of the most meaningful progress in mankind since its taking the reporting process that regular excel geeks like myself know (Which is playing with VLOOKUP and Pivot tables) into a whole new level of richness that could only benefit ourselves in terms of knowledge and understanding in order to reach the most meaningful insight.

The whole reason behind this posts is to give my opinion and point of view on how things are going right now in terms of self-service BI, the impact of self-service BI in the current and future era and what our duty is as citizens of the world.

I’m starting my journey in using the knowledge that I have of Powerpivot and use it for the analysis of the census and other data of my hometown from

http://www.contraloria.gob.pa/inec/Redatam/index_censospma.htm

but I’m stuck with the R+SP software since I need to create the query from there in order to consume the data in Excel so if any of you know how to query that data let me know!

Image of Amir Netz was taken from: http://michaeljswart.com/tag/amir-netz/ (awesome blog btw)

My Blog:  http://thepoweruser.wordpress.com/

The Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/PowerUserXL

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