If Microsoft Excel were suddenly shut down and made unavailable, it is likely that the entire planet would experience a near cataclysmic shutdown.
Almost every business, large and small, depends on Excel to do everything from simple calculating numbers and complex business modeling to managing huge data sets from disparate sources and basic operations. complex data. I’ve even seen people compose complex documents in Excel.
Excel is the Swiss army knife of the business world. While there are better tools for almost any major task that Excel can do, its ubiquity stems from its ability to be almost anything for anyone. But, often businesses and users can have problems when trying to get Excel to do things that extend its capabilities.
This is where intelligent automation, using tools like robotic process automation (RPA), can help. By offloading some of the heavy lifting on these specially designed tools, businesses can be sure they’re getting the most out of Excel. Here are three ways you can use smart automation to give Excel superpowers.
1. Transfer your data to Excel
Excel was one of the first desktop applications to help users extract data from external sources. In many cases, this has been done using connectors and macros – the programming language of Excel – to connect to the data source and import the data.
The problem is that the data is not ingested into Excel until someone manually opens the worksheet. It can take some time. Smart automation can change that. Instead of waiting for Excel to load the data, an automated routine can connect to the data source and ingest the data into a worksheet – either a new one or append it to an existing file – so that the data are ready for use as soon as the file is opened.
This allows data analysts to get started faster and reduces the time they spend waiting for data to load. And these tools can extract, transform, and load data into a spreadsheet without having Excel installed on a machine.
2. Identify data issues and errors faster
Intelligent automation can make the task of identifying missing data and anomalies much faster. Automation tools, such as RPA, have an exception handling capability. Although Excel’s macro language is extremely powerful, error handling can be very difficult.
RPA tools help automation handle errors elegantly. Rather than having an entire process abort when data is missing, these tools can report the error but continue to function. It also helps because errors are reported quickly, allowing your staff to focus on correcting rather than finding abnormal data.
3. Easily and securely connect multiple data sources
Rarely, all the information you need is in one place. You can use intelligent automation to collect data from multiple sources and bring it together into a single worksheet or workbook.
This can be automated so that it happens when you want it so that staff can get to work as soon as they open the file rather than having to log into multiple sources. And, because the automated process can be assigned its own user account with a strong password and other data protections, it means users can get the data they need without exposing entire systems.
When you integrate smart automation into Excel, it’s like Excel suddenly got superpowers. It is able to quickly and securely access data, tell you when there is a problem, and let your teams focus on high-value tasks such as analytics that support your decision-making. rather than waiting for the data to load and then check if the data you received is the data you wanted.