How to use PowerPivot to understand your data

Mark Whitehorn provides a step-by-step guide to one of Excel 2010’s most powerful tools

Power Pivot 2

The closest many companies come to analysing their data is to use Excel's PivotTables, but PowerPivot takes things to a new level. Think of it as Excel PivotTable on steroids.

But it's more than that. Yes, it works as an Add-in for Excel 2010 that enables users to analyse very large sets of data, very rapidly, in real-time, but it should be viewed as a vital component in Microsoft's Business Intelligence suite.

We'd highlight two key skills: the ability work with simple and/or complex data (simple being essentially Excel worksheets, complex being relational databases); and the ability to combine data from different sources.

In this article, we're going to provide a step-by- step guide to using it as a tool in your business to make sense of your data.

You will need Excel 2010 already installed. Go to www.powerpivot.com, click on "Download PowerPivot now!" and follow the instructions.

[img id="159454f"]PowerPivot download instructions[/img]There is no charge for PowerPivot; you don't even have to register to download it. Make sure you download the correct version (32-bit and 64-bit versions are not interchangeable). Once installed, fire up Excel and a message should appear asking if you want to install PowerPivot into Excel; click OK. After the installation finishes, you should find a new PowerPivot tab appears in the ribbon.

The PowerPivot Add-in certainly slows down Excel's load time (it's three times slower). Your mileage may vary but it's worth knowing that you can easily disable the Add-in when it's not required. ClicktheFiletab, Options, Add-Ins. You should see PowerPivot for Excel listed.

[img id="159475f]Excel Add-ins screen[/img]

Click the link below to read the full white paper.

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