How Power Pivot, Power View, and the Other Power BI Tools Relate to Each Other

Power Pivot is the Engine that Turns Data Into Information!
But We Can’t Understand This Properly Without Examining the Three Big Lies of Data

Goal:  Answer Four Frequently-Asked Questions

So many things to say this week. Let’s jump in.  Here are the questions I ultimately aim to answer, which are questions I get basically everywhere I go:

  1. How do all of the Power BI Components relate to each other?  Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View, Power Map, Q and A, etc. = Power Confusion for some folks.  I get it.
  2. Has Power Pivot become less important, now that we have all of these other new “Power *” tools?
  3. Which tool should I learn first in the Power BI family?
  4. Should I consider abandoning this stuff altogether in favor of <hot new technology X>?  Tableau, Hadoop, R, etc.

In order to answer these, first we must confront some insidious lies that we are told every day.

Examining:  The Three Big Lies of Data

We want data tools vendors to lie to usThe world of data, today, is clouded by Three Big Lies.  These lies originate with all of the tools vendors – Oracle, IBM, Tableau, etc., and yes, Microsoft too is very much playing along.

Even though the Vendors are the Purveyors of these lies, they are NOT “at fault” for them.  Because the world actually WANTS to be told these lies.  BADLY wants to be told them, in fact.  And because the audience is so receptive to these lies, the vendors naturally learn to tell them, and tell them well.

Vendors who DON’T learn to tell these lies?  Well, those vendors don’t win many customers.  And then those vendors disappear.

So while the lies COME from the vendors, the PROBLEM, really, is with US – the people who BUY the tools.


No, I am not suggesting that we stop buying data tools!  Computers, after all, are fantastic at data.  Data is basically the ONLY thing that can go into a computer and then come out better.  (Computers have a much harder time “improving” IDEAS, for example).

Instead, I am advocating that we become smarter buyers of data tools.  And then the vendors themselves can start telling a more accurate and honest story, because we will be ready for it.

No more suspense, here are the Three Big Lies:

The three big lies of data: 1) Data and Information are the Same Thing. 2) You Have the Data, Now You Just Need a Tool to “Look at It.” 3) Data is Easy.

The Three Big Lies of Data:  We Hear Them ALL the Time.

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So What’s the Truth?

For starters, let’s try a few things that I believe are Truths:

  1. Data must inherently be transformed into information.  In its raw form, data is really just noise.  You can be swimming in it and still be blind.
  2. Trying to skip that transformation step, and merely “looking at” the data, will RARELY yield useful results.
  3. The transformation from data to information is NEVER easy, and we should distrust people who promise otherwise.

Your Mission:  Ruminate/Comment While I Refine Part Two

I don’t want to rush this, it’s too important.  So, I’ll resume Thursday.  In the meantime, noodle on this a bit and let me know what you think OK?

The last parting thought, for now, is that I think the people reading this ALREADY know that the three lies are indeed lies, and you ALSO knew those three truths before you read them here.

So really, my mission here is to “crystallize” things you already know, and to give us all concrete ways to talk about them, so that overall, we can move the conversation about data (and tools) to a smarter place.

Part Two:  The World Doesn’t Have its Numbers >>