In a high-energy Day 1 PASS Business Analytics Conference keynote that had attendees laughing throughout, Microsoft BI’s Kamal Hathi and Amir Netz analyzed the Billboard charts and the effects of American Idol twitter activity using Excel 2013’s PowerPivot, Power View, and Data Explorer - and showed off the new public preview of Project codename GeoFlow on an 80-inch Perceptive Pixel touch-screen display.

Focusing on simplicity, Amir said Microsoft wants to do with BI what "PowerPoint did to the slide projector,” making business intelligence cheaper, faster, and easier. BI needs to be something that everyone can use, he added: BI should stand for "Basic Intelligence.”

The opening keynote also included Dell Software Group’s Matt Wolken talking about the promise of analytics and the opportunity for data pros to use analytics to help drive revenue in their organization. “BI is the fastest growing enterprise application,” he noted, adding that companies implementing BI/BA solutions are 13% more profitable that their competitors.

PASS President Bill Graziano led off with a warm welcome to almost 900 attendees and a call for data professionals to come together to connect, share, and learn beyond the BA Conference. “We are asked on a daily basis to do more with data and within our roles as data professionals,” he said. “There’s a real need for knowledge and support for this growing field of business analytics. As a community of professionals, experts, and partners, we can support and learn from each other as the world of data changes around us.”

Below, check out our Day 1 press release and keynote recaps and articles from press and bloggers (updated as new posts go up) and see how to get the preview of the GeoFlow 3D geographical data visualization add-in for Excel. And tune in to the always entertaining and informative #passbac Twitter stream for the latest news and views.