In recent years most businesses have started to take business analysis to the next level by adopting various data visualization and analytics solutions, methodologies and technologies. Solutions like Tableau, PowerBI, SSRS, InetSoft and QlikView, to mention only a few, are widely used as data visualization tools.
However, many businesses struggle with these solutions because it either becomes costly or because they simply do not have the people with the necessary skills in-house to implement these solutions effectively.
From my own experience most of these products have impressive capabilities, however the learning curve is steep. You see companies send their employees out on a 2-5-day course to learn these tools hands-on. However, so much information is conveyed, and people need to digest it. They do some quick exercises based on ideal demo data and they get a certificate for successfully completing the course and once they return to their post at work, guess what? …
— they need to catch up and make up for lost time at work because the work piled up on their desks and inboxes. A month goes by before they manage to free up some time to start to implement the newly acquired (sometimes very expensive) software with their newly acquired knowledge. But, only one problem, they do not remember how to use the software any more, their real-life business case is not quite as clear cut as the demo data exercises they did a month before. And the day moves on and they table the project for another day so that they can focus on other more important tasks.
There are several reasons why such businesses and individuals should consider using Microsoft Excel as their data visualization and intelligence solution:
- Most businesses already have Excel, Excel is readily available to both businesses and individuals
- Most users are already familiar with Excel and use it frequently
- Excel is a very capable data visualization tool
- Excel is a very flexible tool that offers a wide array of built-in functions, macro and VBA programming capability, data connection methods etc.
- Therefore, Excel can be used for rapid data visualization development and prototyping
- Using Excel can allow a business and its users to reach a certain level of maturity with their data analytics and business intelligence needs and solutions — before deciding to move over to another solution as mentioned above.
- Instead of ultimately replacing Excel with another solution, Excel can rather be combined with other solutions.