Microsoft PowerPivot is a new technology included in Excel 2013 and available as separate add-in for Excel 2010 aimed at providing self-service Business Intelligence (BI).
PowerPivot is a real revolution inside the world of data analysis because it gives you all the power you need to perform complex analysis of data without requiring the intervention of BI technicians.
This tool, an Excel add-in, implements a powerful in-memory database that can organize data, detect interesting relationships, and give you a swift way to browse information.
These are some of the most interesting features of PowerPivot:
- The ability to organize tables for the PivotTable tool in a relational way, freeing the analyst from the need to import data as Excel worksheets before analyzing the data.
- The availability of a fast, space-saving columnar database that can handle huge amounts of data without the limitations of Excel worksheets.
- DAX, a powerful programming language that defines complex expressions on top of the relational database. DAX allows you to define surprisingly rich expressions, compared to those that are standard in Excel.
- Amazingly fast in-memory processing of complex queries over the whole database.
- The ability to integrate different sources and almost any kind of data, such as information from databases, Excel worksheets, and sources available on the Internet.
Some people might think of PowerPivot as a simple replacement for the PivotTable, some might use it as a rapid development tool for complex BI solutions, and others might believe it is a real replacement for a complex BI solution.
PowerPivot is a great tool for exploring the BI world and implementing BI solutions. It is not a replacement for a complex BI solution, such as the ones built on top of Microsoft Analysis Services, but it is the first tool available from Microsoft to handle self-service BI, a technology that let you build complex data structures and analyze them without contact IT staff!