A Cheat Sheet to get more out of Microsoft Excel
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The analytics landscape is changing at a fast pace in this ‘bring-your-own-tools’ world. The universe of data technologies has grown exponentially complex over the last few decades, particularly so after the introduction of Big Data concepts. In such a world, where does the role of an Excel user lie? Makes becomes of people like you and me?
Let us explore the budding opportunities around us.
Nowadays, many multi-million dollar business intelligence solutions can be found in the market. And many firms are adopting these products to become efficient or to better understand their customers. But the employees of such firms, most probably, are in a habit of using Excel for their daily problem solving. Therefore, catering to these employees can become the major factor differentiating success from failure.
Excel Add-Ins is one way through which these business intelligence solutions capture the market. In fact, as ‘Dirty Grantham’ puts it, these solutions should primarily act as data consolidators/providers and feed the Excel users. It is the job of the IT people to get the data to Excel users for analysis. Incorporation of tools to deal with problems that might be difficult to solve within Excel should be secondary to these technological solutions.
A great number of firms are years, if not decades, away from using tools like PowerPivot or PowerBI due to lack of appropriate infrastructure within the firm. So, they mostly rely on Excel to solve problems which these tools are created to deal with. This is where the nimble Excel user comes in with its enhanced capabilities to fetch and sift through data at the ground level.
Data cleansing at various levels in a database happens as an evolutionary process. Same is the case with the use a database’s output is put to, e.g. report calculations. If the logic working on a database changes, it can be very costly to fix the processes running inside it to let the output be as desired. Using Excel to deal with this problem is a cheaper and faster solution. Moreover, possessing know-how of the outputs of databases, Excel users can direct changes in the logic of databases to ease data analysis across the enterprise. They act as a liaison between IT and functions like finance, planning and reporting.
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