You probably see a lot of articles regarding the apps and tools that all entrepreneurs should use, including facebook, linkedin, skype, google docs, mint.com etc. What I would like to recommend is a free tool that most of you will probably hear of for the first time: Microsoft Excel PowerPivot
What is Microsoft PowerPivot?
PowerPivot is a free add-in to the 2010 version of the spreadsheet application Microsoft Excel. It is a data analysis tool that delivers unmatched computational power directly within Microsoft Excel.
With this add-in you can:
1) Work with very large data sets
2) Combine data from different sources (Excel tables, SQL, Oracle etc..)
3) Create visually appealing analytical models
The most important thing is the fact that PowerPivot for Excel is intended to be used by the same people who build Excel PivotTables today. If you feel comfortable with excel, then it won’t be a big hassle for you to understand PowerPivot’s DAX (data analysis expression) formulas.
You can export and utilize data from 3 different types of sources:
You can create relations between tables as in Microsoft SQL .
Why would you need a measurement tool?
In the initial phase of start-ups, one of the main reasons of failure is to lose track of the business. Many entrepreneurs don’t like to spend their energy developing deep-dive reporting mechanism of each unit/piece of the entire business. Instead, they think that acting upon initiatives with quick trial & error processes have higher priority than assessing the current state. That might be partially true. However, decision making process should always include a framework of design-implement-measure, even though some initiatives take very short time to follow this kind of methodology.
Entrepreneurs should never underestimate the power of KPIs during the establishment of new business or new initiatives. Deriving insights from KPIs across all business units contribute to company more than thousands of dollars spent on surveys and market research. Because sometimes the business owner knows what customers (or users) like, what they want and what their needs are, even more than the customers (or users) know about themselves. Banner clicks, page views, bounce rates, conversion rates and other visitor behavior indicators of a website have to be assessed and acted upon by the relevant teams of the start-up. It wouldn’t be surprising if someday you change even your business plan according to the analysis of your business/user KPIs.
Another crucial point is the fact that start-ups with established measurement infrastructure are always more prepared to scale up comparing to those that don’t have any measurement study in the past. Obviously you cannot predict the future easily without considering the past, and the past in this case means the historical data and KPIs.
If you look at the early stages of all famous internet start-ups, I assure you that you will see how they analyzed what their visitors needed deeply in each step.
Why would you need PowerPivot for this?
PowerPivot is one of the main tools that enable you to enhance your data analysis studies in a convenient way:
1) Ease of use: DAX uses standard Excel formula syntax (and some of Excel’s functions)
2) Relational data: Simple relational data model based on tables, columns, and relationships
3) Pivot tables: Analysis performed via PivotTables based on the database (multiple tables)
It would be easier for you to follow my next articles if you could just download it (It is free!)
Image source: Flickr