Excel Developer Conference Presenter – Bob Phillips


I am Bob Phillips, currently an independent solutions provider. In previous lives, I worked for large financial corporations building credit risk management systems.

My principal area of interest is presenting data as information, which to me covers the whole range from capturing (the right) data, extracting it from wherever it has been ferreted away, and presenting it in the most appropriate visual manner (that is, no pie charts!). To my mind, this naturally leads to what is now called Business Intelligence.

I first became involved in this area in 1996. As I said, I used to build credit risk systems, and I was building a system for one of our major investment banks and we needed to supply reporting capability. We could have opted to build a suite of custom reports, or used one of the market leaders at that time (Cognos, Business Objects, …), but both of these choices left us less than enthusiastic. Instead, we decided to build a data warehouse, plug Brio into this warehouse, output the reports as Excel files, and publish these to our intranet. That was my first exposure to warehouse development, and I chose Excel as it was a tool I had used for my own use, just like my users, and I knew how good it was. I have never been the same since.

My Session

Since I started in this field, things in the warehousing and BI world have just got better and better, even SQL Server is a decent product now (it wasn’t in the late 90s, early 2000s).

Of course, the big problem with these BI solutions is where they are supported, the dreaded IT department. So a solution that allows the user to produce their own reports; to do their own analysis; to incorporate data not in the enterprise systems; this has become the BI Nirvana. Many companies have produced products claiming to do this, and now Microsoft have come up with their own offering, PowerPivot. In this session, we will look at PowerPivot, data modelling and DAX formulae, consider whether this really is a user tool or still for the developer community. The great thing about PowerPivot is that it is integrated with Excel, it is an Excel addin, but has the goal of self-service BI been achieved?

My Interests

I think that Excel is the best computer application ever. It may not be perfect; it may not be the best architected; it may be lacking a ton of necessary, even critical, functionality; but it does so many basic things well, and it is so easy to build upon an Excel application that its spread and influence are enormous. Unfortunately, I think Microsoft are trying their hardest to destroy it in their misguided corporate vision, but I am not sure they are good enough to achieve it.

With my infatuation with Excel, I spend far too much time on various Excel and SQL based websites and forums, trying to convince others about my view of these products by helping them to resolve problems. When I do manage to drag myself away, I like to spend my time cycling or walking the cliffs in Dorset. I have been known to have a drink or two, and I do like eating, so I am looking forward to the apres-Excel session on the day.


3 Responses to “Excel Developer Conference Presenter – Bob Phillips”

  1. Excel Dev Conf Presenter Bob Phillips « Smurf on Spreadsheets Says:

    […] Well known Excel MVP Bob Phillips is presenting a session on Self Service BI at our Excel Conference…. […]

  2. Raymond Gota Toudji Says:

    What a nice world, isn’t it?

    Another Excel addict

  3. Excel Developers’ Conference Jan 25 London report | Patrick O'Beirne @ sysmod Says:

    […] Bob Phillips spoke on Personal BI (Business Intelligence) made possible by the PowerPivot addin for Excel 2010. He covered the DAX language and mentioned the work of Tom Gleeson, the datasmith. There were some questions from the Access developers in the audience, as Bob indicated that PowerPivot is the future of data access and reporting by Excel. […]

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