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Microsoft ships PowerBI for Excel, bringing more live data to Office

Mark Hachman | Feb. 11, 2014
Slightly less than a year ago, Microsoft began outlining its plans to overhaul Office documents with live data, culled from the Web. On Monday, Microsoft made those plans reality, shipping PowerBI for Excel and Office 365.

And how difficult will it be for the average user to adopt this new way of doing things? White, not surprisingly, said it won't be too difficult. "Any one that can use a pivot table can use this," she said. "It's not a real high bar."

In her own organization, White said, what she's seeing is that a couple of her direct reports will prepare a BI document and pass it along. Instead of exclusively relying on their conclusions, however, she can play with the data herself—a "report" becomes more of a process of culling data as much as providing a fixed set of conclusions.

Microsoft said that Carnegie Mellon University, Revlon, and Trek had all trialed the technology.

Tracking down and discovering a comprehensive pool of data to provide context or back up one's conclusions is one thing. Organizing it in a way to facilitate further inquiry is another. Will Microsoft be able to shoulder aside existing BI specialists? Building the technology into Excel itself is a good start.


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