Power Pivot Global Interest

Way back in 2014 I decided to check out what Google Trends had to say about Power Pivot and Power Query global Interest. In case you don’t know, Google Trends will show you the relative frequency of people searching for certain words – it is a good indicator of interest in a topic.  I published a blog article with a Google Trends chart way back in 2014 on this page. At that time I said that the sad thing about the chart was that the trends were linear, and I would like to see something more exponential!

Well in 2015 Microsoft released the first generally available version of Power BI and since then continuous improvements have been made to Power BI, Power Pivot, and Power Query. Most importantly, Microsoft has been listening to the users to determine what improvements should be built and deployed.

I thought it would be a good time to revisit that original  Google Trends chart I produced almost 4 years ago. Here it is:

As you can see above, the Power BI trends are indeed exponential, exactly what I was hoping for 3 years ago. Power Query continues to grown slowly, and Power Pivot is in decline.  One other interesting observation is that these search terms drop off a cliff each year between Christmas and New Year – A true sign that it is business interest that drives this product.

What’s in a Name?

Power BI is clearly the big thing here, but the other 2 products are the real work horses.  People are increasingly learning about the branded product Power BI, and decreasingly being aware of the engines that make the product run – I guess that is not overly surprising although I do find it disappointing, particularly when it comes to Power Query.  Power Query is the engine that extracts, loads and transforms raw data from anywhere it resides, and gets it into the Power BI database.  Power Query also is available in Excel (called Get and Transform Data). The fact that Microsoft continues to ignore this product as a brand in itself means that most people that could benefit from this cross application technology, don’t even know it exists.

Power Pivot (or more correctly Analysis Services Tabular) is the database that compresses and stores the data in Power BI, and then makes all the modelling and calculations possible at lightening speed.  Actually Power Pivot is another of those naming/branding issues that Microsoft has from time to time.  The technology is Analysis Service Tabular, but when that technology is deploy in Excel it is called Power Pivot.  When it is deployed in Power BI it is not called anything at all, so I tend to call it Power Pivot or Analysis Services Tabular when I refer to the underlying database engine.

There is a new Microsoft naming faux pas I see on the horizon – it seems that the newly deployed cloud based Power Query capability will be called DataFlow (or is it Data Flow?).  I’m sure that DataFlow be confused with Microsoft Flow by most people.  Why can’t they just call it Power Query in the Cloud, or something similar that contains the actual words “Power Query”?  I guess I will never know.  But then again I would have nothing to complain about if Microsoft stopped doing this 🙂



  1. Great article. Agree that there’s little understanding out there about what PowerBI and Excel have in common.

    When giving an elevator pitch to laypeople about the PowerBI desktop tool, I tell them it comprises three things: PowerQuery (ETL), PowerPivot (Modelling), and a Visualisations layer. And I tell them that two thirds of that is bundled into the latest version of Excel.

    And then I say “Putting aside the value proposition of using PowerBI for a moment, there’s enough of a value proposition in learning this stuff based on the repercussions to your Excel users ALONE.

  2. Actually Power Querry should be renamed ETL(Exstract, Transform and load because this is what the software does and this abbreviation should be used every be it in excel or PBI.

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