Microsoft had the lead in commercial data analytics with its MS office software and its evolution through the ’90s. Now all these fancy tools have become available. All the latest tools tend to do one aspect of Microsoft Excel well. For instance, Audit Command Language works well with regards to data transformation and Tableau focusses on the creation of graphs and charts.
Having said all that, it is extremely important to remember that Excel is still relevant to some companies for a variety of reasons. Let’s explore the reasons to understand how it is still useful to companies around the around for data analytics.
There is a generation of the workforce to whom, using Microsoft’s productivity software is like second nature. Microsoft Office comes installed in every computer sold at a fraction of the cost of any other tool for data analytics. That implies that every person can easily be trained for analytics projects on Microsoft Office Excel. Seriously, many of us have been learning and using MS Excel since their childhood.
Most people don’t realise that they can script and automate a lot of MS Office tasks, just like other scripting languages/tools. VBA for Microsoft Office is a sought after skill because it allows for the user to be creative with the kind of applications they want to create for automation of such tasks. Using this aspect of MS excel, end users can become very creative by working with data sets by connecting to databases like MS SQL Server. No other allows for this level of automation capabilities.
One major factor in deciding which tools are to be used for any project in any industry is the amount of the initial investment. And of course, this is a valid question. Even on this count, MS Excel along with VBA costs significantly lesser than any other tool available in the market. It is certainly worth having this tool around as the last line of defence with respect to the cost involved.
MS Excel obviously has certain limitations which leave gaps to be filled by other tools (just the other tools do so MS Excel). However, it is worth pointing out that tools like ACL Audit Command Language, Tableau, Spotfire etc. do not provide end-to-end solutions i.e. from data transformation to dashboards (analysis) and application development capabilities. It is a must-have to perform basic and quick analysis. MS Excel is a solid investment as a strong foundation for any operation.