Latent Power of Excel

Jon Udell asks why we can’t make information come alive. Where’s the visualization, the ability to see dynamic behaviors? Jon references Paul Kedrosky’s take on BI tools (aweful, woeful). Hear, hear. We strongly agree: we like to begin our analysis projects with visualization, particularly understand rich customer behavior.

To illustrate what can be done by looking at information dynamically, Paul created an animated Flash demo comparing Tiger Woods’ driving distance and accuracy to the rest of the PGA field.

Paul’s demo is built in Flash which is really outside the skill set of many business folks. Excel is the hammer that these folks have. Duplicating Paul Kedrosky’s demo in Excel takes a single line of VB code. We even get a little more richness to the ui--a scrollbar allows us to scrub backward and forward in time. Here’s what it’s looks like.

Tiger Woods Chart

The runaway success of Excel Hacks shows that people are interested in unlocking the power of the tools they already have.

One of the best tools for rich BI might be on people’s desktop already. Similar to how AJAX is exposing the latent power of todays browsers, there’s a lot of latent power in Excel to produce a much richer analytical experience. It takes a change in mindset for us all to benefit.

Here’s how the Excel got done.

Tiger Woods Chart in Excel