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Excel Evolves in the World of Big Data

03.24.2013
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I don’t know about you, but my go-to piece of software for just about everything is Excel. I have used Excel for over ten years for numerous projects from demographic profiling to building portfolio valuation models. At the Strata event several weeks ago, I was surprised to see Excel 2013 being featured so prominently at Microsoft’s booth, so I sat down and took a look at how Microsoft is positioning Excel in the world of big data.

What impressed me the most about Excel 2013 was the power of Data Explorer which can grab data from a variety of locations, including Hadoop. Additionally, with the press of a button you can search for and import tables from Wikipedia. Microsoft claims that this functionality is being expanded to include public information sources. With the press of another button, you can search the web for tables. The search is smart enough to recognize table tags in HTML and pull in table data from random web pages. Nice.

With all of the new analytics tools on the market, I’m pleased that Microsoft is continuing to evolve Excel to keep pace with the big data explosion. After all, while Excel has its limitations, it’s a familiar analytics tool to millions of people, and anything that reduces the big data learning curve and makes people productive more quickly is a very good thing.

Good move Microsoft (did I really just say that?).

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