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Microsoft Business Intelligence Tools for Excel Analysts by Bernard Wehbe, Jared Decker, Michael Alexander

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Chapter 1: Important Database Concepts

In This Chapter

  • Using a database to get past Excel limitations
  • Getting familiar with database terminology
  • Understanding relational databases
  • How databases are designed

Although Excel is traditionally considered the premier tool for data analysis and reporting, it has some inherent characteristics that often lead to issues revolving around scalability, transparency of analytic processes, and confusion between data and presentation. Over the last several years, Microsoft has recognized this and created tools that allow you to develop reporting and business intelligence by connecting to various external databases. Microsoft has gone a step further with Excel 2013, offering business intelligence (BI) tools like Power Pivot natively; it effectively allows you to build robust relational data models within Excel.

With the introduction of these BI tools, it’s becoming increasingly important for you to understand core database fundamentals. Unlike traditional Excel concepts, where the approach to developing solutions is relatively intuitive, good database-driven development requires a bit of prior knowledge. There are a handful of fundamentals you should know before jumping into the BI tools. These include database terminology, basic database concepts, and database best practices.

The topics covered in this chapter explain the concepts and techniques necessary to successfully use database environments and give you the skills needed to normalize ...

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