Held in Chicago, the event drew many from the fields of business and analytics, hungry to network and learn from leaders in this space. While the PASS acronym relates to SQL (Professional Association for SQL Server), the conference also introduced the community to some of the new features now available to users of Excel 2013.
PowerPivot allows users to go beyond the simple pivot table. For example, it allows users to combine data from multiple sources, or even to integrate with SharePoint so that data can be automatically refreshed.
- Blueocean, for instance, utilizes the ‘slicer’ feature, which allows clients to quickly filter their open-end comments based on those who answer any question (or multiple questions) in a particular way.
Power View is an option which builds on the Power Pivot capabilities, and allows the users to creatively visualize their data. The visualized data is interactive and dynamic and again allows the user to ‘drill-down’ on areas of interest to view the data in different ways.
- Blueocean uses this approach to build interactive dashboards and reports. In particular, the mapping feature is an appealing way of quickly showing key variances in survey data across countries and regions.
Analytics and ‘Big Data’ are both gaining significance, and taking many forms. However, it is equally interesting to note that while the need for advanced analytics and tools required to derive insights remains strong, familiar tools like Excel are also making business analysts out of many who never considered themselves experts in the category before.