Kurt Dupont, based out of Belgium heads PresentationPoint, a company that creates several amazing PowerPoint add-ins. After his Computer Science studies, Kurt started with Andersen Consulting (Accenture nowadays) in Brussels. After 3 years he moved to the Brussels Airport Terminal Company that runs the Brussels airport – this last placement inspired the start-up of Take-off (now known as PresentationPoint) in 1998.
In this conversation, Kurt discusses DataPoint 2, the new version of his flagship product that lets you integrate data from external sources within PowerPoint slides.
Geetesh: DataPoint is already a very capable PowerPoint add-in that displays updated data streams on slides – what’s been updated for the new version 2 release?
Kurt: Well, in this major update of our DataPoint product we’ve completely rewritten the code based on the latest technologies and also based on the latest Microsoft PowerPoint versions, especially Office 2010 and 2013. So we are now fully using the Ribbon. We have made an inventory of all user comments and with that list in mind we have built DataPoint 2.0.
One important change for database connections is that a DataPoint connection is now split up in a connection and a query. So now you first set up your connection (server name, database, username and password) and afterwards you set up one or multiple SQL statements or queries collecting different information. The big advantage here is that you do not have to maintain the connection information at every DataPoint connection. So when your password changes, you only have to modify this on the connection level and it will work for all queries.
Also interesting is that you now can put rules on a textbox or a table. First of all, you define a rule or condition. Then you specify an action. So when a certain value of your database returns negative values, then DataPoint can display the value or the background of the textbox in red. With these dynamic rules you can better emphasize the dynamic content of your presentation so that the viewers can take appropriate actions.
You can now also display some additional information next to your database content. You can set a text that should be shown before or after your database value. For example when you have a price column in your database, then you will of course display the price of a given product, but automatically you will add $-sign before the number. DataPoint can execute these repetitive tasks for you. Furthermore you can display a custom text e.g. ‘There is a problem with our database‘ whenever network or database errors are encountered.
But best of all is now the new charting object of Microsoft that is now fully open and operational as before with the older Microsoft Graph object. Now again you can create real-time charts within PowerPoint with the new charting look which is much cleaner than before.
We have spent time on additional connections for DataPoint like we now directly support XML, Twitter feeds, MySQL, Oracle and now you can also display a real-time RSS feed of your favorite news channel directly in your presentation.
Now you will have no reason anymore to interrupt your running slide show and to modify its content
Geetesh: Who is the typical DataPoint user — can you share some success stories?
Kurt: Everyone that has news, information, figures, targets, etc. can use DataPoint. Think about a school announcing class room changes or school messages. Factories displaying safety instructions or just the ‘number of days without an accident’ is frequently seen. Police stations displaying images of missing people, announcements of speeding controls. Hospitals displaying welcome information and guidance.
But next to online information as a real-time presentation, we also have customers that use DataPoint for statistics and reporting. For example you can run a customized proposal for your potential customer for insurances. Or generate a large product catalogue with our data scrolling feature. So DataPoint will create a slide for each product that you have in your product catalogue.
The best reference of DataPoint is Sotheby’s, a multinational corporation operating as a broker of fine and decorative art. We regularly see them in the news when they have set another record selling e.g. the most expensive diamante ring. They use DataPoint for their auctions where they display in real-time an image of the object they are selling currently, accompanied with the hot pricing information of their bidders. That’s DataPoint in action there.
See Also: NewsPoint: Conversation with Kurt Dupont