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Analysis versus Reporting and Power BI

Rob Collie thinks about industry movement between analysis and reporting. Part one gives us some backstory:

Excel was about to make a large investment in BI-related capabilities, and the powers that be had selected me to lead our part in it. I was excited, but now I needed a crash course in “what the hell is BI?” I was given multiple tutors, and they all were quick to introduce the concept of Analysis versus Reporting. The “versus” seemed to be pretty important. It wasn’t an “and” – no, the “versus” was chosen deliberately in these sermons. You see, these were Two Very Different Things.

I struggled mightily to grasp this difference. I was told that interactive things like PivotTables were Analysis tools – NOT Reporting tools! Reports were something completely different. “But,” I pointed out, “they’re called ‘Insert PivotTable Report’ on the Excel menu today!” (This was Excel 2003). “Yeah,” said the mentors, “…we might want to fix that.”

Part two explains why analysis and reporting are both important:

Another “meta characteristic” of paginated reports is that they TEND to display details rather than aggregations. EX: specific transactions rather than emergent trends. In paginated reports, you’re MORE likely (but not guaranteed!) to be looking at “raw” rows of data from the original database, whereas in a Power BI report, you’re more likely (but again, not guaranteed!) to NOT be seeing raw individual rows, but rather intelligent aggregations of MANY rows. But either way, more detail means you’re more likely to need multiple pages.

Rob’s right on the money. And I’m looking forward to part three of the series.