I recently stumbled across a site called notalwaysright.com, which is dedicated to funny/painful stories from customer service professionals. In their tech support section, you'd be surprised to find how many customers were at their wit's end trying to find out why their electronic device doesn't work, only to be asked the embarrassingly simple question, "Mr./Ms. Customer, is the power cord plugged in?"
You might be surprised to learn the same is true for Excel's new business intelligence engine. Most people we speak with are not aware that Excel now includes an enterprise-class data analytics and visualization tool, and all you have to do is turn it on. Power BI is an incredibly powerful tool that gives SMB's complete visibility into their company - connecting them to a diverse range of live data sources inside and outside their company and displaying that data in intuitive, interactive graphs and charts. It truly is DIY business intelligence, and it can give business owners the insights they need to make better decisions more quickly.
Here's how you fire it up:
First, you will need to enable Power Pivot, which is basically the data-crunching brain behind Power BI. Power Pivot is an add-in feature for Excel available in Office Professional Plus, Office 365 Professional Plus, and the standalone edition of Excel 2013. It's available in Excel 2013 by default, but it has to be enabled for use.
To enable Power Pivot:
- In Excel, go to File > Options > Add-Ins.
- In the Manage box, click COM Add-ins > Go.
- Check the Microsoft Office Power Pivot in Microsoft Excel 2013 box, then click OK.
- You'll see a Power Pivot tab in the ribbon. To open the Power Pivot window, click Power Pivot >Manage.
Next, you'll need to enable Power Query in Excel. Power Query is the “Data Grabber". It allows you to harvest data from diverse public and corporate sources and import them into Excel’s data model (Power Pivot) for further manipulation and analysis. You can search for specific information using natural language queries like you would with a Google or Bing search, so if you're used to the old system of V-Lookups, it will be a breath of fresh air. It's an add-in feature for Excel, and it can be downloaded from the Microsoft website for free.
To enable Power Query:
- Go to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39379 and download Power Query.
- When the download has finished, double-click the file to run.
- Follow the installation process.
- Once the installation process is complete, you will see a Power Query tab in the ribbon in Excel.
If you are big BI geeks like we are at Blue Margin, you're going to love working with your new Power BI toys, and the application to your business will be immediately apparent. Power BI success stories are happening everywhere - the case studies of Conde Nast and Dun and Bradstreet are just a couple examples of how companies are leveraging Power BI to accelerate growth.
If you have any questions about how to use Power BI to supercharge your company, feel free to contact us at Jon@bluemargin.com or 970-214-1652. We love helping companies utilize BI to improve productivity and drive success by making faster decisions, and we've seen some incredible success stories with Power BI.
Your Colorado Microbrew Recommendation:
Scuba Steve - Black Bottle Brewing Co.
ABV: 6.7% IBU's: 67
You might think that this American IPA seems a bit out of place in a landlocked state like Colorado, and you wouldn't be wrong. But as the great Bill Shakespeare once remarked, "A rose by another other name would smell so sweet," and I think the same can be said for beer. Regardless of its name, this hoppy, moderately strong brew is a great choice, whether you're near the ocean or hiking in the Rockies.