Self Service Reporting With PowerPivot

There are so many cool new features in Sql 2008 release 2 it was difficult for me to pick a topic for T-SQL Tuesday . But the one that I am now a secret fan of, I once resented for its creation.

Let me explain, for years I have encountered reporting systems cobbled together in tools like Access and Excel built by "database hobbyists" who had no formal training in database design or best practices. They would take their monstrosities as far as they could go before ultimatley it stopped working or the person that wrote it left the company. At that point it would become the resident DBA's problem to support it as a Live application.

So when I first heard of Power Pivot, a sense of Deja Vu overtook me and I felt like the guy in the Ausin Powers movie , knowing the inevitable is coming but somehow unsure how to get out of the way.

But when I eventually saw it in action, I quickly realised that it is a very powerful tool. It has a much smaller "time to market" than traditional BI architectures. Combined with the new features of Excel, some pretty impressive dashboards can be produced.Of course PowerPivot is not a magic bullet and along with potential scalability issues there are the usual issues such as master data management and data quality that cannot be overcome easily with power pivot. As a tool though, it has potential.

Traditional BI is expensive, both in terms of time and the amount of resources it takes to deliver the system. The time lag between an analyst or a commercial accountant requesting reports and the report being delivered can make a huge commercial difference. I have observed companies where empowered end users become extremely productive when allowed to plough in to various disperate datasets. It may not be the correct way or the most sustainable but its cheap and quick. In these times when budgets are being slashed and we are forced to deliver more with less, why not empower the end user in a tool that is designed for exactly this task....



Published Tuesday, June 8, 2010 6:49 AM by blakmk


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