Those of us on the Excel team have been investing in intelligence for a long time, with the goal of making analysis easy and intuitive for everyone. Last week in this Office 365 blog post, we provided a closer look at a new feature called Insights. Insights is our newest artificial intelligence-powered capability that will roll out in preview to Office Insiders this month. We’re really excited about how well Insights will work alongside existing intelligent, results-oriented features like Flash Fill, Chart Recommendations, and Pivot Table Recommendations, all of which are longtime user favorites. Read on for more information on Insights and the broader set of similar features already available in Excel.
Releasing a preview of Insights
Insights is a new service that automatically highlights patterns it detects in your data, helping you discover and analyze new insights such as trends, outliers, and other useful analyses and visualizations. It will look for interesting trends in your data and provide quick summaries with Pivot Tables and charts. Because this feature is powered by machine learning, it will provide increasingly advanced analysis as usage grows. We’re releasing Insights as a preview for Office Insiders this month.
Excel is the go-to tool for millions when it comes to data and insights. Intelligence features in Excel help you accelerate your end-to-end workflow, from connecting and shaping data to understanding, analyzing, visualizing, and forecasting intricate information. Radically simple and powerful experiences in newer capabilities like Get & Transform and Power Pivot enable you to meet increasingly complex data needs by yourself. Here are some more examples of the Excel capabilities that help you uncover hidden data insights and be more productive.
Recommended Pivot Tables—Recommended Pivot Tables is perfect for users who have limited experience with Pivot Tables. When you use this feature, Excel determines a meaningful layout by matching your data with the most suitable areas in the Pivot Table. This helps give you a starting point for additional experimentation. After a recommended Pivot Table is created, you can explore different orientations and rearrange fields to achieve your specific results.
Recommended Charts—Instead of sifting through the dozens of options in Excel, the Recommended Charts tool automatically recommends a chart for you based on highlighted spreadsheet data, saving you time and giving you the best visual for your needs.
Quick Analysis—The Quick Analysis tool provides immediate access to a gallery of formatting styles and visualizations, including charts, tables, formulas, and spark-lines. It automatically recommends the best approach for analyzing your selected range of data, and then produces an immediate preview so you can quickly judge different options. For example, you don’t need to be a Pivot Tables expert to use them: Quick Analysis will generate one for you, giving you more time to analyze data instead of organizing it. Just like other Excel innovations, Quick Analysis was designed to save you time and help you quickly surface the right insights.
Conditional Formatting—One of our customers’ favorite tools, Conditional Formatting gives you the flexibility to write rules that format data sets in a specific way. For example, it can highlight duplicates, add color scales, and incorporate icons to help you quickly identify anomalies and patterns.
Error Checking Options—If you’re working with a lot of data, it’s easy to mistype a number or enter the wrong formula. Excel helps you avoid these errors with notifications that appear when a set of numbers or formulas seems wrong or inconsistent. These notifications also give advice for fixing the error, saving you time looking for a solution.
AutoFill and Flash Fill—Both AutoFill and Flash Fill were built with one goal in mind: to save you time entering and manipulating data. With AutoFill, you can quickly populate an entire column with sequential data, like dates. Flash Fill works similarly, but recommends inputs based on data in adjacent cells. Flash Fill is often used to help people transform or clean their data for further analysis.
Map Charts—Excel can automatically detect geospatial information in spreadsheets using Bing to produce data-infused maps. These maps help you segment data by country, state, county, or postal code to identify regional patterns.
One-click forecasting—If you have historical time-based data, you can use Excel’s one-click forecasting to create a forecast. This feature creates a new worksheet that contains both a table of the historical and predicted values and a chart that expresses this data. A forecast can help you predict things like future sales, inventory requirements, and consumer trends. Plus, several partners have built Azure-enabled Excel tools that incorporate machine learning into the forecasting feature for more robust, customized insights.
Get & Transform—One of the most significant additions to Excel 2016 was Get & Transform, a powerful set of tools that provide fast, easy data gathering and shaping capabilities. Using Get & Transform, you can connect, combine, and refine data sources to meet your analysis needs. You can connect to a whole host of data types like Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL and data providers like Exchange, Sales Force, Dynamics, even Facebook.
Power Pivot—Power Pivot performs powerful data analysis and creates sophisticated data models. With Power Pivot, you can mash up millions of rows of data from various sources, perform information analysis rapidly, and share insights easily.
We also recently announced that Excel will soon be able to understand more data types than just text and numbers. Plus, it will be able to augment your data based on public and enterprise data sources over time. Lastly, we’ll be releasing a capability that enables developers and data scientists to create new functions that business users can leverage for more customized analyses. Stay tuned.
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