Tempo-Tech (a fictional company for the purpose of this article) has been growing significantly over the past few years, successfully combining cutting edge IT and gadgets with a commitment to friendly customer service and welcoming stores. One significant growth area for the business has been their in-store technical support, and they've recently moved on from this to providing IT maintenance for businesses at the clients' own premises. However, management have begun to doubt whether this venture was a wise idea, or if they should perhaps have continued focusing solely on their core retail enterprise.

The management haven't got where they are today by making rash decisions, though, so they'll be looking at the situation over a period of time, taking into account the difficulties of establishing the new arm of the company and looking for signs of reliable growth. It's down to Jake to come up with these reports, making them as clear, perceptive and impartial as can be. When the time comes to decide whether to keep the on-site maintenance sideline or to close it down, management will have expected Jake to provide them with as much evidence as possible.

Jake has long used Microsoft Excel for analysing key business data, and he's considering whether to step up to Excel 2010. He's unsure whether the new edition can really offer him something beyond what he's always got from Excel, but some of his more tech-savvy friends have suggested that 2010's novel PowerPivot technology might offer him just the solution that he needs.

More and better analysis

Excel has always been able to produce reports. However, PowerPivot technology offers a great deal more analytical power, which can benefit Jake in a variety of different ways. One of the first benefits he notices is that PowerPivot can analyse huge amounts of data with ease - millions of rows can be processed in order to produce the most accurate and thorough results. But even if he doesn't have quite so much data to transform into compelling reports, he'll still benefit from being able to introduce data from almost any source. PowerPivot automatically integrates information from databases, internet feeds and text files, as well as Excel spreadsheet data, giving Jake the most thorough assessment of the company's position.

Jake can then combine PowerPivot's capacity for bringing data together with Excel's established reporting tools. He produces a dashboard of key data, both in graphic and numeric form, so that management have all the data they need at their fingertips. And PowerPivot also plays a role in creating this dashboard, and making it more effective.

Enhanced sharing

With Excel and PowerPivot working in tandem, a great quantity and variety of data can not only be used to create the dashboard, but can then be filtered and separated using Excel's slicer technology. Jake shares his report with those who need to see it through Microsoft SharePoint, and the reader can then drill down into the data as deeply as they like, by creating slices of specific data.

For instance, if Jake provides a display of work requested in the northwestern region, managers can break this down by different types of work done, or by different clients - and all at the touch of a button. In this way, Jake isn't just creating what the managers see when they open the report, but a range of reports providing as much detail as is needed. All this takes no more time or effort than creating the standard report; PowerPivot provides the extra data that can be sliced and pulled out at will, and allows management to see the big picture and the finer details simultaneously.

Running Excel with PowerPivot and SharePoint also allows much greater collaboration, should Jake need some assistance in bringing the data together. The work can be designated a shared application, allowing Jake to give anyone he chooses equal access to the piece, wherever they may be. His work can even be accessed via an ordinary web browser, giving Jake the power to stay in control at all times, regardless of whether or not he's near his own computer.

The impact of PowerPivot has convinced Jake that Excel 2010 represents a great leap forward for his work. A short training course will help him fully to get to grips with the power and versatility of the new software; could it do the same for you? After all, PowerPivot with Excel 2010 can help anyone take control of a range of data - and take control of their business in the process.