What is a Power Pivot?

Power pivot is used for data modelling of complex data and performs advanced calculations that Excel is unable to handle. It acts as a calculation layer between your data and output. You can even instruct your Power pivot how you want your calculations to be done through a language called DAX. Power pivot is used when working with large datasets. It is used to establish relationships between queries and calculate things to be shown in charts and tables. DAX or Data Analysis Expression is the formula language for Power pivot and is used to create elaborated and sophisticated data models. The aggregation and calculation processes in Power BI basics are fast. Hence power pivot aims at evaluating huge volumes of data, performing analysis of information fastly on this data, and sharing meaningful insights and outputs. The data model created in the power pilot is the same as Excel. The data model is a collection of tables with relationships between them. 

Features of Power Pivot

The features of Power pivot that gives an enhanced performance as compared to Excel are briefed below:

  • Power pivot can handle large volumes of data and can compress them into smaller files at a faster rate.
  • Power pivot provides DAX which performs complex calculations that are not handled by Excel.
  • Power pivot can create KPIs to use in pivot tables and Power View reports.
  • It is easier to create relationships among tales to analyse the data.
  • Power pivot is efficient in filtering data and it can rename columns while exporting.
  • It can add calculated fields, rows, and columns to the tables.
  • Power pivot can be used to organise tables into individual tabbed pages.

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Why is the Power pivot considered a strong tool?

You need not have a knowledge of data query language to perform data operations in Power pivot. This makes it very user-friendly. The interface of the power pivot makes it easy to create reports. The reports created using Power pivot are versatile and dynamic. It allows you to further evaluate data and make conclusions and derive outputs. 

Power pivot creates data definitions and connections when you invoke Power Pivot. These are stored in a compressed form in Excel. When any change is made in this data, it is automatically updated in the Excel file. Hence, all changes are systematically registered. Hence data can be even stored at a different location. The source data can be in the form of text files, webpages, etc.

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Uses of Power pivot

Power pivot is used in the following operations:

  • It is used to combine and evaluate large volumes of data.
  • It is used to perform analysis of data and share the insights in an interactive manner.
  • It is better than Excel as it creates more sophisticated data models and is a good tool for data analysis.
  • It is used to create Key Performance Indicators or KPIs.
  • It is used to perform complex calculations and write advanced formulas in Data Analysis Expression or DAX.
  • If you have calculated all the required metrics, you can represent your information in the Power Pivot data model using pivot tables and charts. 


  • Ensure that the power pivot option is available on the ribbon. If you are using Excel 2013 or later versions, power pivot is already present on the ribbon. But for previous versions, you need to enable the power pivot add-in.
  • Even if your ribbon has a power pivot option, you must endure that the add-ins are enabled to access its features. 
  • Adding power pivot add-in:
  1. Click on File
  2. Click on “Options” in the dropdown menu. Another dialog box opens.
  3. Click on “add-ins”
  4. Go to the “manage” option below. In the box, select COM add-ins from the list.
  5. Click on the Go button. 
  6. The COM add-ins dialog box will appear.
  7. Check the power pivot in it and click OK.

Data modelling using Power pivot

Power pivot has many features that allow advanced data modelling. The data in the power pivot is called the power pivot database and is managed in the Power Pivot data model. Power pivot is flexible and you can use it to develop new insights from your data. You can create and establish relationships between tables. This makes it easier to analyse the data collected. You can calculate the required metrics using DAX and add those fields and columns to your table. It is also easier to develop and show hierarchies in data. 

Business intelligence refers to the tools that are used to collect data, derive meaningful insights from the data, and make decisions in a better way. Power pivot comes with BI features that facilitate data collection and data visualisation. This information can be shared across multiple devices. 

Memory optimization

Power pivot has a very essential feature that makes it easier to work on large volumes of data. It uses xVelocity storage. It is a highly compressed memory and can store millions of rows in the memory. This makes it easy to load data into the data model. The file size of the files created by loading data directly into the data model is compact. You need not add data to Excel in order to load it to your data model. The files thus saved occupy very little space in the hard disk. 

Power pivot charts and tables

You can create Pivot tables from the Power pivot window. The tables created are based on the data in the data model which facilitates the combining of data. The Pivot Charts are also based on the data in your data model. Thus it is easier to combine data from related tables. Such features enable easy analysis and reporting. These pivot tables and charts can be combined with each other too. 

DAX language

The DAX makes Power pivot a very strong tool. It is easy to perform calculations on data present in the data models.

Data sources

You can add data from different data sources into your data model. Power pivot is compatible with a huge range of data sources including Oracle, SQL Server database, Microsoft Azure, Sybase, Informix, Microsoft Excel, etc. It is equally convenient to load data directly into your data models. 

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