MS Excel is arguably one of the most powerful MS Office applications and least understood by most Office users. Learning MS Excel has been a daunting task for many professionals. The deemed complexity of Excel probably resides in the fact that it can unleash a new world of insights with just a simple set of data.
However, Microsoft regards Excel to be:
“cells of data laid out in rows and columns, a powerful calculation engine, and a set of tools for working with the data.”
This simplicity makes Excel flexible, extensible, and empowering. To make Excel more beneficial for individuals, Microsoft seems committed towards infusing Excel with more power and innovation. In September 2018, Microsoft announced how it is adding features that are fueled by AI to MS Excel.
Why learning MS Excel is crucial for professionals?
1) Simple Data to Powerful Insights:
Unlike other spreadsheets, Excel lets you use modern formulas to generate useful insights. Using Excel in everyday business or Individual operations enhances intelligence.
2)Graphical representation of Data: Make your data more compelling and easily explainable using formatting, sparklines, and tables.
Want to make predictions based on a set of data? The results will be a click away.
3) Sharing work is easier: Working on different systems and need to share spreadsheets? You can! Excel allows workbook sharing over networks. Another way of working together can be real-time collaboration. This feature is available in Office 365.
How Does Artificial Intelligence Play a Role?
Training professionals in the use of MS Excel can take their productivity exponentially higher on individual and organizational levels. Artificial Intelligence has made MS Excel an application that is leaps and bounds ahead of its counterparts in terms of efficiency and innovation.
1. Analog to Digital: In the world of the Internet of Things and Machine Learning, having analog data is keeping you from gaining maximum productivity. However, every day we collect or disseminate a lot of analog data. How can one combine these two worlds? Microsoft has an answer. Excel, Word and PowerPoint now have the “Insert Data from Picture” feature. This innovative feature allows a user to gather tabular data from an image and turn it into digital data. Supporting 21 different languages, this feature can be leveraged globally, especially in a global work environment. Wondering how they achieved this technology? By combining Optical Character Recognition, Layout understanding techniques, and machine learning models. Together these techniques transform paper-based information into data that you can save, integrate, and analyse digitally.
2. STOCKS as a Data Type: STOCKS is a Data Type introduced by Microsoft in the Excel universe last year. This data type powered by AI turns a stock ticker into an entity which has layers of rich information and can be interactive. This information includes price, change, currency etc. Recently, Microsoft announced its collaboration with NASDAQ and Refinitiv, two of the most well-known financial organisations in the world. Now, users can get a complete range of financial information of equities listed in the US Exchange on their Excel sheets. This information transforms this application, making it a one-stop investment tool.
Taking this feature another step further, Excel now has bitcoins, bonds, international currencies, extended hour pricing information and other useful information about the company. These features become a wonderful step towards inclusive world financial markets.
3. Dynamic Arrays: Using dynamic arrays, any formula that returns an array of values will seamlessly “spill” into neighboring unoccupied cells, making it as easy to get an array of values returned as it is to work on a single cell. (Source: Microsoft)
In a lay person’s terms: Users do not have to write complex formulas to solve multi-cell problems. Writing one formula will reveal arrays of value. Make’s your life easier, doesn’t it?
4. Harness Intelligence: Artificial Intelligence is making individual work intelligent. In Excel now, you make click on an “Idea” icon and in a second you will get recommendations that will help you identify trends, patterns, and outliers in a data set.
This feature is available in multiple languages.
Should I learn Excel Too?
If the above list of dynamic features has made you think about learning Excel, you are on the right path to multiplying professional and individual productivity.
Students, business owners, analysts and other professionals have flocked towards Excel learning classes for one simple feature: It is a powerful application which makes you work more intelligent.
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