SP Fest NYC: Sharegate’s Benjamin Niaulin Makes Data Look AWESOME

I'm pretty sick of sitting in on Office 365 and social
sessions.  There, I said it.  So you can imagine how excited I was to
peruse the SharePoint Fest New York
agenda and see that one of the most gregarious people in the SharePoint
community, Sharegate's Benjamin Niaulin, was doing a session on
visualizations.  In Cool Dashboards, Charts and Visualizations You Can Build, Benjamin
was able to accomplish something almost impossible – he made Excel and
PowerPivot exciting!

So how was he able to accomplish such a mighty feat?  He began his presentation by first listing
off what we did before – conditional formatting, InfoPath forms, custom
development, etc. – and then listing what we can do now to maximize Business Intelligence (BI).  Specifically, he looked at Self Service BI and Power BI.  When it comes to Self Service BI, there are four primary functions to take advantage
of:

  • Power
    Query;
  • PowerPivot;
  • Power
    View;
    and
  • Power Map.

Riddle me this reader, how are we supposed to make
dashboards without retrieving data from a source?  With Power
Query
, we can do this and more.  As
its name suggests, Power Query is a
powerful tool that makes it easy to search and find data from multiple
sources.  Better yet, Power Query allows you to access queries
from other users on your network, which means a larger aggregation of
data.  Although your everyday permissions
are still going to be in place and may prevent you from accessing certain
pockets of data, the amount of data that Power
Query
opens up is quite staggering.

Once you have gathered your data via a Power Query, you can leverage PowerPivot
to analyze the content, as well as build a solid relationship with your data
sources.  Additionally, you can take
advantage of Power View to visualize
the data that you have collected and analyzed.  In his presentation, Benjamin made use of Excel and data he pulled from an online
source to build a dynamic report that was highly interactive and visual.  By taking advantage of Power View, he was able to show us how to create, explore, and
interact with graphs, charts, and other things that we have built, thus
allowing us to work smarter, not harder.

To bring his data visualization circus full circle, Benjamin
closed out his presentation with a demonstration of Power Map.  Perhaps one of
the most AWESOME ways you'll ever see data manipulated, Power Map allows you to create cool 3D map visuals with your
data.  These maps allow you to quickly view
data in a dynamic way that is truly mind-blowing.  In his demo, Benjamin showed how data from an
Excel spreadsheet related to
electricity usage in Texas could be plotted on a map and tracked using heat
maps.  Trust me, this was definitely NOT
your everyday pie chart visualization. 
Rather, using Power Map,
Benjamin was able to tell a fascinating story using what would otherwise seem
like boring data.

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