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Insights from DAX Expert Alberto Ferrari

The Power BI or DIE podcast recently featured a special episode with Alberto Ferrari, one of the world's leading DAX experts. Alberto, known for his extensive work with SQLBI.com alongside Marco Russo, shared valuable insights on DAX, data modeling, and the evolving landscape of Power BI.



The Complexity and Power of DAX


Alberto highlighted the complexity of DAX. Despite its apparent simplicity, mastering DAX involves understanding the underlying engine and data structures. Alberto and Marco's latest book on optimizing DAX, spanning 800 pages, reflects the depth required to fully leverage this powerful tool.



Data Modeling: The Foundation of Success


A significant portion of Alberto's discussion centered on the importance of data modeling. He emphasized that a well-designed data model is the cornerstone of any successful BI project. Data modeling, particularly the use of star schemas, has been a well-established practice since the 1960s. Proper data modeling not only enhances performance but also simplifies DAX coding, making complex analyses more manageable.


Alberto stressed that while DAX skills are essential, they cannot compensate for poor data modeling. Professionals in the field must prioritize building robust data models to ensure the efficiency and accuracy of their analyses.


Training and the Learning Curve


Over the years, Alberto has observed a shift in his training sessions from exclusively professionals to a mix that includes many newcomers to Power BI. Surprisingly, many of these new users are unfamiliar with fundamental concepts like Kimball and star schemas. Alberto's training approach involves practical, hands-on learning, guiding participants to recognize the advantages of proper data modeling through real-world scenarios.


Embracing New Technologies with Caution


Alberto expressed admiration for new features in Power BI, such as composite models, which he described as "a piece of art." However, he cautioned against relying solely on new technologies without a solid understanding of foundational principles. While tools like Direct Lake and visual calculations offer exciting possibilities, they should complement—not replace—sound data modeling practices.


The Future of Power BI


Looking ahead, Alberto hopes for advancements in Power BI that will aid users in building robust data models. He envisions tools that analyze and provide suggestions for improving data models, helping users navigate the complexities of large datasets and advanced calculations.


Alberto Ferrari's insights underscore the critical importance of data modeling in the world of Power BI. As the platform continues to evolve, blending foundational knowledge with new technologies will be key to unlocking its full potential.


Thank you Alberto and enjoy DAX..!

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