Microsoft Excel is used everyday across companies, however, many people may not know the advances implemented within the program.
These advances namely are Power Query and Power Pivot. These tools enable users to work in a more automated way with their Excel files and implement more seamless and advanced solutions within their spreadsheets. In the following, we will closely elaborate on these advances and reveal the additional potential they bring for the application.
Power Query and Power Pivot
Data gathering and cleaning can take up a large portion of time for people working with data. Therefore, tools aimed at automating these tasks can prove to be very beneficial.
The purpose of Power Query, Excel’s built-in data engine, is to automate the getting and the cleaning of data in Excel using a user-friendly graphical user interface and with no need for any programming knowledge (such as VBA). This enables users to finish their tasks easier and quicker. Power Query supports direct connection to a large amount of data sources: folders, JSON files, databases, local computer files, web pages, SharePoint folders, etc. You can import data from all these sources into one Excel workbook and avoid the creation of multiple source sheets. This supports easy file transferability and a better overview.
After connecting to the data, you have the option to easily apply data transformation steps, such as change data types, merge tables or columns, rename or duplicate columns, etc. These changes are recorded within Power Query, therefore, whenever your data source refreshes these recorded steps will automatically apply to the freshly loaded data as well. In Excel you have the option to load the imported data as an Excel Table, Pivot Table Report or create a Data Model from multiple tables, which enables cross-table references and filters without having to implement heavy functions, such as VLOOKUP.
After these steps you can explore Power Pivot. Power Pivot is capable of working with millions of rows of data compared to the limited capacity of Excel itself. It also enables the creation of calculated columns, measures to further analyze the data and gain valuable decision-relevant insights using Data Analysis Expression (DAX). DAX is able to return one or more values through exploiting functions, operators in formulas and expressions. This analysis goes above grid-style formulas and supports advanced solutions, for example time intelligence functions for easy time period comparisons.
Power BI, Microsoft’s specific data analytics and visualization tool also runs Power Query, enabling all above listed functionalities enriched with enhanced visualization and data analytics capabilities. The application has the potential of working with both historical and real-time data, therefore can fully support data-driven decision making on the go.
Are you interested in exploring opportunities within the described areas? Feel free to reach out to us for a consultation!