Excel 2013 – Business Intelligence – First impressions

I have been playing with the new excel for a few weeks now and I think I have finally enough material to share.

In general the first impressions can be bucketed in three distinct set of emotions:

  1. Wow – a lot of new cool stuff coming out.  It is becoming painfully clear that the PerformancePoint Services in SharePoint are not going to see an additional dollar of investment, but that’s not all bad news as it appears that most of that functionality is being ported over to Excel’s PowerView (including the Decomposition Tree).  The new features of PowerView such as maps, KPI’s and drillability are great and given the fact that anyone with some PivotTable experience will be able to build dashboards and reports using this technology is very exciting.
  2. Hmmm – new features have been added to the basic pivot tables in excel to enhance analytical capability of that technology (ability to drill up and drill down, explore by changing a different dimension, ability to create calculated members).  However, I cannot say that these improvements are dramatic enough.  My basic sentiment for everything new outside of PowerView is – Not Very Impressive.  Nice, but not impressive.  Again, if I were to guess, Microsoft is putting the $$$ into anything that has to do with the Tabular mode and the good old multidimensional technology is not getting any love.  This is very unfortunate but I am going to leave it in an Orange category (it would have been yellow, but yellow is really hard to read on a web page) because I am hoping to see more functionality in the upcoming versions.
  3. Ouch – well, the biggest frustration of this Preview release is it’s stability.  It has been really really really frustrating thus far.  I understand it’s a Preview release and I most certainly appreciate the courage that Microsoft had to release this as is and give us a preview of what’s coming.  So I am not really complaining here, but, it is very frustrating for me to have the thing blow up all the time.  Certain things work intermittently, others don’t work at all.. There seems to be a memory management issue in PowerView that does not allow me to use Excel files of any decent size (100MB or so).  This is something that will obviously be fixed as we get closer to the RTM but right now patience is something that is absolutely required in order to enjoy the product in its current form.

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