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“I Know SQL Queries, So Why Do I Need Power Pivot?”

Post by Rob Collie

because I am very familiar with databases and the ability to create custom SQL queries and data models using SQL Management Studio,  I struggle to see why I would need PowerPivot if I can do much of this heavy lifting using SMS.

Got This Question the Other Day, and it is LONG Overdue That I Answer It

Some of You Are Confused, Some Are Nodding

Generally speaking, I think the people reading this fall into one of a few camps:

  1. People who are early in their Power Pivot journeys, and who also do NOT know SQL (most Excel Pros fall into this camp at some point, before hopefully moving into group #2 below).
  2. People who are pretty good at Power Pivot, but do NOT know SQL (I fall into this group).
  3. People who are good at BOTH Power Pivot and SQL (this is a blessed group).
  4. People who are good at SQL but still early in their Power Pivot awareness/knowledge.

Group #4 is the “target audience” for today’s post, but it’s still relevant for groups 1-3, because we WILL get asked this same question from time to time, and it’s good for us to be able to answer.

“I Started Out as a DBA…”

SQL Queries as BI - More Common Than Really Any Other Method of "Official" BI

For Many People and Organizations, THIS is Business Intelligence
(And to a Certain Extent, This is Effective, So it Persists as a Workflow)

Let’s say you began life a a DBA.  Which means you know SQL, of course, but writing SQL is not the only thing you do as a DBA.  You’re maintaining indexes, watching for bottlenecks, talking about I/O, number of spindles, TempDB…  all that good DBA stuff that I understand at a conceptual level but have never learned to actually DO.

But one day, someone from the Business has a question.  They figure all the data required to answer it is “owned” by you, so they come to you with said question. 

And hey, it turns out that you CAN write some SQL and answer the question!  Which is pretty damn helpful and makes everyone involved feel pretty good.  (Hey, we are all still fundamentally wired for cooperation after all).  It also makes you more relevant to the front-line business, and no longer “just a cost center” from the perspective of the company’s leaders, which is VERY good for your career.

 

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