The word processor replaced typewriters typing on paper just as computerized spreadsheets like Excel replaced paper spreadsheets, and the productivity boost from Excel in particular was why businesses started dropping a fortune on the software licensing for the tool starting in the 1980s. However, the fact that Excel has literally been used for years and is the de facto language in many offices is not the only reason why you should be a pro at it. Here are 3 reasons all professionals should master Excel today.
Excel isn’t simply a digital version of the written spreadsheet. It is a problem-solving tool, tapping into your computer’s analytical side, capable of generating the numbers far faster than you could. Built-in tools for creating charts, clearing duplicates and other functions truly save you time if you need them. For example, you can use the Excel Time Difference function to quickly determine the time something took. How long was the flight? How long did the transaction take? How long did the experiment run? Enter the dates and times in Excel, as long as you’re careful with the format, create the formula, and copy it down the row or across the columns. Excel will do the math for you. And it will automatically update the answers if you change a value.
Excel makes it possible to analyze what we can call “small data” as compared to “big data”, and you don’t have to learn a new tool to do so. In fact, a number of Big Data tools can export data to Excel-compatible file types so that you can readily manipulate it and report on it with Excel.
Excel is by definition interoperable with other Microsoft tools. You can find people emailing Excel files so that the information can be sorted, charted and copied into PowerPoint presentations. This happens almost automatically.
When Excel runs the numbers for you, you’re saving a lot of time. If you become skilled with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), you can take things to the next level by automating the editing of spreadsheets, running calculations, and other functions.
Excel isn’t simply a spreadsheet. It can act as a database, and unlike other databases, it is widely used and incredibly easy to use. For example, a common use of Excel is to store customer data. You can sort for specific transactions or groups of people, and it can all be done in Excel. Another benefit of being a pro with Excel is the fact that nearly every other tool exports files in Excel-compatible formats because Excel is so widely used. This means that you can still work as a data analyst when you change industries or jobs as long as you know how to search, correlate, analyze and present data using Excel.
You don’t have to work in finance or data analysis to benefit from knowing Excel. However, if you’re familiar with Excel, you will be sought-after by businesses of all sizes because of the value you bring to the organization.