Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BI Book – Excel as BI Front-End Tool

I’m very happy to announce that finally I submit the chapter for the next MVP Deep Dives Book that I’m a co-author with some other MVP professionals around the world. The book will be published next October and for sure I’ll give you here more news about it.

The chapter I wrote, explains the construction of an Excel Dashboard from an IT and Business perspective in a retail sector scenario. It was not intended to explain the best way to create a dashboard for the retail sector, but to describe some tips and tricks for a low-cost dashboard using a familiar tool commonly implemented across organizations: Excel.

Excel 2010 seems to be the strongest candidate to be chosen as preferable tool. It's certainly true that Excel 2010 doesn't yet have the design features of some BI Front-End competitors, but the low cost and welcome acceptance from end users are big advantages to it. Naturally, there are huge commercial interests in favour of more robust solutions that generally stand by their promises, but in turn, the return on the investment (ROI) is the question.

Excel Dashboard
The dashboard created along the chapter is shown in the previous figure. I highlight the fact that beyond this dashboard, information is centralized inside an OLAP cube, and the dashboard was created without any line of code! At one hand, you make IT department satisfied (because they still control data quality, data governance…) and at another hand, business has the freedom to create their own dashboards and reports not only through Excel 2010, but also through Report Builder 3.0.

All the money from the book sales will be donated to charity. And the organization selected by almost co-authors of this book is the
Operation Smile. I hope you buy this book to learn new things but also to help to make the difference for these children! For those interested in doing more charity work, check out Social Work Degree.

Operation Smile
I'll keep you informed about book published date!

20 comments:

Amin said...

Hi Pedro,

That dashboard is really interesting. I believe Excel could bring valuable analysis potential to some group of customers who seeks to analyse data.
And this feature helps a lot. The dashboard that you designed is really fascinating ;)

Cheers,
Amin

Pedro said...

Hi Amin! I'm very happy you like the dashboard! It was a very interesting challenge! And I made it without any line of code or any add-in!
Thanks for your visit!
Cheers,
Pedro

Jason Yousef said...

Looks great Pedro, looking forward for the book release...also thanks for your efforts in EE (Huslayer).

Pedro said...

Hi jason!!
Thansk for your visit and kindly words!
I hope to see the book release fast! :-)
Regards,
pedro

Herbert said...

Hi Pedro,

Very impressive, such a comprehensive dashboard in native Excel. BTW, how long did it take you to build? Do you expect business users will be able to build such dashboards on their own with the help of your book?

BTW, we at Pyramid Analytics will be releasing a revolutionary concept in dashboard creation for business users, which will be associated with our OLAP thin client viewer (bioXL). We'll be in touch when its ready for demo!

Cheers,

Herbert

ITGuru said...

Hi Pedro,

Great job. I look forward to read the book. Please drop me a line once it's out. I'd like to be one of the 1st to put my hand on it :). rchafei@gmail.com

Thanks,
ItGuru

Valentino Vranken said...

Hi Pedro!

Good to hear that there will be a second edition of the MVP Deep Dives book! I own the first one and will definitely order the next one when it comes out.

Nice dashboard btw! I've now added your blog to my reader (and to my blog as well) :-)

Best regards from another European SQL blogger,
Valentino (ValentinoV@EE).

BBluford said...

Hey Pedro-

I found you on a thread in one of the LinkedIn groups we are both in (Microsoft Excel Users). I clicked over to your site and dashboard you mentioned (http://linkd.in/mW59KH). I'd love to keep in touch with you, even have you as a guest poster on my blog (bobbybluford.com) if you are interested.

Pedro said...

@ITGUru: I'll keep you in touch! But It'll be better if your subscribe to rss! :-)

@Valentino: Thanks for the interest. I also know you from EE! :-)

@Jason: Thanks! I also know you from EE... are EE guys here? :-)

@Herbert: I can do the dashboard or give the user the freedom for create it own. The business users can do things that you could not imagine...:-) And yes... it's simple and fast doint it in Excel as I did! When you have the demo let me know!

@BBlford: Thanks and I naturally interested to accept the invitation! :-)

Thanks for all your kindly words! I hope to see you all more often here!
Pedro

Adam said...

Hi Pedro,

Very nice work. I've done similar (but not nearly as comprehensive) dashboards myself, and wondered for some time if Excel is all you need for authoring dashboards, analysis, and reports. It really is very flexible, and familiar to most users. With the advent of Sharepoint Excel Services, you can essentially publish your excel spreadsheet as a web page. Have you tried this through Excel Services ? Is everything supported ? Any chance you can share the spreadsheet ?

Thanks - Adam.

Pedro said...

HI Adam!
Welcome to the blog!
Yes.. from sharepoint 2010 using excel services it works almost perfect... some shapes like the line in the header doesnt appear... Take a look at the list of the features that are not included yet in th excel services:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/differences-between-using-a-workbook-in-the-browser-and-in-excel-HA010369179.aspx
Regards,
Pedro

nol said...

Hi Pedro,

Great job. I look forward to read the book...

BR
Nuno

Pedro said...

Thank you Nuno for your kindly words!
The book is now available at Amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/SQL-Server-MVP-Deep-Dives/dp/1617290475

Cheers!
Pedro

Karthik said...

Hi Pedro !
Good to see your growth and contribution in the BI arena.Your blog was one of the sources of inspiration for me to pursue a career in BI and glad to say that I'm about to complete my masters in BI in a month :) Thanks to you 4 that!

A specific question about this article which talks about excel accessing OLAP information..I had tried this before and used excel to connect to online/offline cube, but found that the performance was not very good even in case of around 6-7 columns and 100 rows..I concluded that accessing cube from excel was not a good option. Could you let me know your experience with it and any tips that I might have missed

Anonymous said...

Hi Pedro,
really nice work and also a very valuable contribution to non profit project.

Best regards
Xavier García Sabater
www.astroBIa.com

Pedro said...

Dear Karthik,
Sorry for the dalay and thanks for the kindly words.
I've used Excel as Front-End tool without any problem!
You have the some issue through other front-end tool? Like Reporting Services?
Regards,
Pedro

Fabrice Rimlinger said...

Very well done. Too bad shapes are not displayed in sharepoint 2010.

Pedro said...

Fabrice,
Your presence here in my blog is a huge honor! I made this dashboard without any line of code and using the standard Excel 2010 features. Next step is to prove that using your components it will be even better!!
I'll focus on your approach soon! All your amazing work should be spread to the world! Some of your ideas are being "used" by others!

Regards,
Pedro

Giovanny Salazar said...

Pedro muchas gracias, un excelente aporte a una solucion de un problema comun.

Saludos desde Bogota, Colombia.

Pedro said...

Giovanny Salazar,
Thank you so much for the kindly words and visit! I hope to see you here more often!
Regards,
Pedro

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