What is Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel is a powerful type of spreadsheet software that was developed by Microsoft to aid with data analysis and documentation. Part of the Microsoft Office suite, Excel’s spreadsheet is composed of columns and rows, which intersect to form cells. Every cell contains one data point or piece of information. Training in Excel allows users to quickly perform complicated tasks with these cells, such as trend identification or conditional formatting, and to share retrieved data with others. These functions have direct application to Data Analysts, as well as anyone else working with big data, as they simplify the process of organizing, retrieving, and sharing data.

Excel has been used by those in a variety of professions for over thirty-five years, from business operations to data analytics. This industry-standard spreadsheet software is simple enough for even those with a non-technical background to operate, which makes it a staple for many office jobs, especially those that require organizing large sets of data.

The following are some of Excel’s most helpful features and functions for data analytics:

  • CONCATENATE: This powerful formula allows users to combine numbers, dates, and text from multiple cells into one cell. This function can be used to create Java queries, product SKUs, and API endpoints.
  • PivotTables: They allow users to aggregate data in order to isolate a smaller subset without the need for manual filters. The filters on these tables are easy to work with and change.
  • VLOOKUP: This is Excel’s most popular function, and is used to combine two datasets. It is particularly helpful for retrieving small pieces of information from a dataset. Comprehensive tutorials are available online that teach users how to use this function.
  • FIND/SEARCH: These functions provide a way to isolate specific information within a larger dataset. Unique identifiers and anomalies can easily be spotted via FIND/SEARCH.
  • XLOOKUP: This function was created in 2020 to provide a solution to the problems with Index Match and VLOOKUP. Although it’s not compatible with past Excel versions, it runs quickly and is user-friendly.
  • Text Formulas: These text functions, such as LEFT, RIGHT, and SUBSTITUTE, help users extract a limited amount of text from a large dataset.
  • Macros: A macro is an action or set of actions that can be used to automate tasks in Excel that must be done repeatedly. It records mouse clicks and keystrokes.
  • Analysis ToolPak: This free Excel add-on enables users to perform different kinds of statistical testing within their Excel notebook.
  • SUMIFS: This function helps to specify criteria, and then sum the values within that range that satisfy the criteria.
  • Conditional Formatting: This tool is used to distinguish important data from less important data on a spreadsheet.

Pros to Working with Excel:

  • Excel’s straightforward and clear organization makes it easier to retrieve data and draw insights from this information.
  • Spreadsheet data yields actionable insights, like marketing trends, revenue patterns, profit margins, departmental budgets, and operations information.
  • Users can work with complex data in Excel by customizing fields and functions that will perform calculations.
  • Information entered or imported into a spreadsheet can be easily viewed and organized.
  • Large datasets of segmented data can be carefully studied and visualized without the need to use other software.
  • This software provides accurate calculations and accessible visual representations of information.

Cons to Working with Excel:

  • Microsoft Excel wasn’t created for collaborative projects.
  • It can be hard to troubleshoot in Excel.
  • Excel was not designed to help users make fast decisions.
  • It isn’t scalable.
  • It is susceptible to human error; it has no way of checking for data-entry mistakes, which means that it’s possible for incorrect information to skew results.
  • Working with large datasets can create limits in the notebook and time limits on the computer.
  • If a file is too large, Excel will run very slowly.

What is Google Sheets?

Google Sheets is a free online spreadsheet editor that allows users to create spreadsheets and share them with others online in real-time from any device. This product comes with helpful spreadsheet features, including the capability to add, subtract, or organize rows and columns.

One of the main benefits of working with Google Sheets is that it makes it possible for those in different physical locations around the country or the world to simultaneously collaborate on a spreadsheet and to chat via the built-in instant messaging program. Once work on the spreadsheet has been completed, it can be uploaded directly from a computer or mobile device. All changes are automatically saved and are visible to other users as they are being completed. Google Sheets is part of the Google Docs Editors suite, which also contains other free applications like Google Slides, Drawings, Docs, and Forms, among others.

Here are some of the most useful functions and features of Google Sheets:

  • It’s possible to use Google Sheets to create spreadsheet data for charts and graphs, then embed them directly into websites.
  • The Explore feature incorporates machine learning, which helps users to create pivot tables and charts, as well as to find answers to questions concerning big data.
  • Offline editing is possible when using Google Sheets. Changes will then be updated once the internet is online again.
  • Documents created in Google Sheets are compatible with a range of formats, such as PDF, HTML, Apache OpenOffice, and Excel (XLS).
  • It’s possible to integrate Google Sheets with various other Google Services, like Form and Translate, Drawing, and Finance. In addition, it is compatible with Microsoft files and even has some of the same keyboard shortcuts.
  • Permissions can be managed for individuals and groups who are completing various tasks, such as downloading, editing, printing, and copying

Pros to Working with Google Sheets:

  • The simple interface makes it easy for users at all levels to work comfortably using Google Sheets.
  • It is free to use.
  • Users can easily edit in real time and share documents. This ensures that everyone involved with a project is using the most updated version of a spreadsheet. Because all edits are automatically saved in the version history, changes to the spreadsheet can be tracked and even undone.
  • App Sheet allows users to create custom applications on top of Sheets without having to write any code. It’s possible to incorporate data from other tools, such as Salesforce, as well as to use Connected Sheets to review BigQuery data in Sheets.
  • Because it is connected to other Google apps, the charts created in Google Sheets can be embedded in Google Docs or Slides. It’s also possible to reply to Gmail comments using Google Sheets, as well as to share spreadsheets via Google Meet.
  • Excel spreadsheets can be edited online without having to be converted.
  • Because documents and data are stored online, no additional memory is required on one’s computer.

Cons to Working with Google Sheets:

  • In situations where complex bookkeeping or accounting has to be performed, the formulas in Google Sheets are sometimes not sufficient.
  • When working with big data, Google Sheets tends to perform slower than Excel.
  • For users who wish to create data visualizations, there are fewer options available in Google Sheets than other spreadsheet editing software.
  • Because Google Sheets documents are saved on the cloud, if one’s business email is hacked, it’s possible for documents to be leaked.

Which Comes out Ahead?

For users who have older computers that crash often, the automatic save function on Google Sheets provides a safer option than Excel. With regard to speed, Excel comes out ahead when handling big datasets. For those whose job involves creating data visualizations from the information in spreadsheets, Excel provides more extensive visualization options than Google Sheets. Users who work with classified or confidential information may be safer using Excel, since Google Sheets stores information on the cloud, where it is vulnerable to hacking.

With regard to price, Excel requires users to have an Office 365 subscription, whereas those using Google Sheets for personal use can do so for free. However, it’s necessary to have a Google Workplace subscription to use this spreadsheet editor for business needs. In work situations where collaboration is required, Google Sheets is a more effective option since it is fully web-based. Both Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets provide users with extensive support communities; both Google Sheets and Excel provide interactive community forums, and Microsoft Excel also offers an Excel-specific learning hub for its users.

Therefore, when deciding which spreadsheet software is best for your organization's needs, it’s important to consider factors such as the type of projects it will be used on, the location of the users, the type of information being analyzed, and the size of the dataset at hand.

Hands-On Data Analytics & Excel Classes

Working with Excel is a core skill in many industries, including data analytics. Employers often seek out those with Excel training to fill job openings. If you’re interested in learning how to work with Excel, or improving on your existing Excel skills, Noble Desktop’s Excel classes are a great option. These courses are taught in-person in NYC and are also available in the live online format.

In addition, more than 30 live online Excel classes are available from a variety of top providers. These small courses are offered for those who are new to Excel, as well as intermediate and advanced Excel users hoping to gain a better understanding of the software’s many uses and functions. Those who are committed to learning Excel in an intensive educational environment may also consider enrolling in Noble Desktop’s Excel Bootcamp. This three-day course provides an intensive and immersive learning experience and takes students from beginner to pro in just 21 hours. Participants learn relevant skills like how to work with Macros, PivotTables, and various formulas and functions that help save time and increase efficiency.

An important first step toward learning more about data analytics is enrolling in one of Noble Desktop’s data analytics classes. These beginner-friendly courses are currently available in topics such as Excel, Python, and data science, among other skills necessary for analyzing data.

For those searching for a data analytics class nearby, Noble’s Data Analytics Classes Near Me tool provides an easy way to locate and browse the 400 or so data analytics classes currently offered in the in-person and live online formats. Course lengths vary from three hours to 36 weeks and cost $119-$60,229. In addition, Noble’s Excel Classes Near Me tool provides an easy way to locate and browse 100-plus Excel classes that are currently offered in the in-person and live online formats.