Advantages of using Advanced Excel for a large data set

By Priya Chetty on June 13, 2017

In recent years, big data has become a buzz word for them who are relying on digital technologies as it allows storage and analysis  of massive data. Here, big data includes both structured and unstructured data sets which require processing capabilities of modern tools. One of the most popular tools to handle big data is Advanced Excel and its relevant add-ons (Rose, Spinks, & Canhoto, 2015).

There have been many studies on this topic which show that big data analytics has helped in evolution of the concept of Business Intelligence (BI). In the beginning it focused on creating self service delivery model through the use of MS Excel and  SQL.  Furthermore, the procedure of data cleansing and importing data to another analytical software is initiated using MS Excel.

Advanced excel provides the facility for data cleansing
Steps illustrating the data cleansing and presentation

Data cleansing steps

One can use Advanced excel for different purposes while analyzing a large set of data. Some of the most used tools of Advanced Excel in big data analytics are highlighted below.

VBA macros or pivot tables

Using pivot table in advanced excel to summarize large set of data
Pivot Tables presentation and summarization through sales data

Studies have shown that pivot tables in MS Excel are interactive and powerful features to summarize, analyze and display patterns and trends for big size data. In particular, the pivot table provides a subtotal and aggregate numeric data through filtering presenting a concise report on the subsets of context-relevant data (Centre for Learning and Academic Development, 2012). This reporting tool allows users to make quick decisions  which is a big advantage in the business world. An important feature of pivot tables is that it reorganizes and displays data on the basis of the end results. This means that table adjusts accordingly to the variables added or subtracted in the data (Technology Training Center, 2016). Moreover, they sort and adjust formulas and chart as per the new data based on names and important information.

Visualization through Mapping Tools

mapping tool in advanced excel help to present data in more meaningful way
3D representation of data using Power Mapping Tool

Advanced Excel also allows graphical representation through a 3-Dimensional (3D)  visualization tool, namely Microsoft Power Map, a powerful method to understand information diagrammatically. This Power Map allows plotting of more than a million rows of data from an Excel worksheet table and provide insights into data changes over time (Los Angeles County Enterprise GIS, 2013). In addition, a tool known as the Map 3-Ds help in simulating relevant excavations from the data while enhancing visualization of the report through graphical representations (Ang, 2013). Geo-data functionality in Advanced Excel shows the trends in geographic regions sharing valuable details to entice more clients.

Report making using advanced excel

Advanced excel helps to make the report with its dashboards option
Report making of sales data through interactive dashboards

There are many other advantages of using advanced version Microsoft Excel. More specifically, it allows creation of an interactive spreadsheet by creating text labels for each of the column in the dataset. Additionally, daily or monthly forecasting reports keeps the organization informed about the business dynamics within a limited data frame (ConvergeSol, 2013). Excel-based dashboard reporting has made it possible for the companies in navigating and comparing data from several sources (Alexander & Walkenbach, 2010).

Lesser time than basic version

In short, the development of new templates, different design works, quick analysis in one click, use of slicers in filtering table data and saving excel files online have made it possible for people to share their worksheets with others (Addinsoft, 2014). Thus, advanced excel is effective for statistical analysis and for a good overview of the relationship between different variables.

Integration with other Softwares

It is important to note that a major feature that makes the extended version of Microsoft Excel attractive is that it blends easily with different softwares. Exporting external data files using different analytical software such as R, SPSS, SAS and others helps in analyzing the data effectively without copying and pasting, thus reducing the errors (Lo, 2013).

It is has been reported that many companies have been able to curb data loss and pin important knowledge to dashboards using Business Intelligence with data and data tools available in Microsoft Office,  (Schwartz, 2016). Thus, according to a recent report by EY (2014), the continuous generation of big data has resulted in a fundamental difference between the organizations investing in tools to analyze huge dataset and gain technical capacity in understanding customer perspective. Digging into analytical ability of the software has also significantly increased the demand for business analysts, data scientists and others to lead the big data revolution. Thus, in the near future impact of using extended versions of MS Excel cannot be ruled out.


Priya is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Project Guru, a research and analytics firm based in Gurgaon. She is responsible for the human resource planning and operations functions. Her expertise in analytics has been used in a number of service-based industries like education and financial services.

Her foundational educational is from St. Xaviers High School (Mumbai). She also holds MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Delhi (2008).

Some of the notable projects she has worked on include:

  • Using systems thinking to improve sustainability in operations: A study carried out in Malaysia in partnership with Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
  • Assessing customer satisfaction with in-house doctors of Jiva Ayurveda (a project executed for the company)
  • Predicting the potential impact of green hydrogen microgirds (A project executed for the Government of South Africa)

She is a key contributor to the in-house research platform Knowledge Tank.

She currently holds over 300 citations from her contributions to the platform.

She has also been a guest speaker at various institutes such as JIMS (Delhi), BPIT (Delhi), and SVU (Tirupati).