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Data visualisation

When a business has large quantities of data at its disposal, they must be able to share insights with key stakeholders in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

The sheer complexity and scale of many commercial data sets certainly makes this feat easier said than done. In fact, information overload is an obstacle that all businesses must avoid if they are to draw out valuable patterns and conclusions from their proprietary data.

This is where Microsoft Excel can really help. Microsoft has been gradually building an engaging collection of data visualisation options for well over a decade, but it’s fair to say these options have become more and more sophisticated with each subsequent release. The latest version of Excel (2016) allows users to generate well-designed reports, charts, models and visualisations that make large scale data sets far much more digestible.

Let’s take a closer took…

An Introduction to Excel Data Visualisation

Most businesses recognise the need to summarise and present data in the clearest way possible; however, knowing where to start can often prove to be a minefield, particularly if they lack in-house experience in generating data visualisations.

The first step is to ensure you are working with an accurate data set. All information contained within a workbook must be imported, cleansed and formatted correctly if the accuracy of reporting is to be ensured. From there, Excel offers a huge range of visualisation options, many of which are fairly straightforward to implement straight out of the box. This includes simple tables and charts that can be generated within a few clicks.

Advanced Possibilities with Data Visualisation

While producing simple charts is fine for some companies, many also want to expand their capabilities to create more engaging visualisations that are not immediately available in the drop-down menu.

Experienced Excel professionals often use tools such as Power View, an intuitive technology that is used to create interactive graphics and interesting data models. There is also Power Map, a 3D visualisation tool that connects with Bing maps to present key data points, columns and heat maps.

Of course, this is only scratching the surface. For companies who want to present data in a way that’s right for their business, it’s well worth exploring the range of built-in options and add-ins that the latest version of Excel offers.

Automation and Integration

Beyond the direct capabilities of the standard Excel software, there are also a whole host of external third-party softwares that can be easily integrated with any given spreadsheet or workbook. Customisation tools such as Vizydrop or Tableau, for instance, offer a unique range of designs that cannot be found in Excel.

With the help of an Excel consultant, these add-ins and apps can be configured to run recurring processes automatically whenever a new visualisation is required. This ultimately saves a lot of time and resource in the long term because it removes the need to repeat manual steps again and again.

Updated on July 11, 2018

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