Connect to your own data with more new data types in Excel

Excel is the ultimate decision-making tool. We are amazed every day by the way you and our clients use Excel to make better decisions, taking advantage of the flexibility of the grid and 2D formulas to capture, analyze and collaborate with data. Until this point, Excel only had two basic types of data it could work with: text and numbers. We’ve been on a multi-year journey to update the data types you can work with in Excel, and you’ve probably seen two examples of that by now. The first is to introduce dynamic arrays and array formulas, where a single formula can return an array of values. The second came with the introduction of Geography and Values ​​’Data Types’, backed by Bing. These types of connected data mean for the first time that a single cell in a network can contain a living, connected and rich set of information about objects such as stocks, currencies, cities and countries. This unique cell will be smart in how it works with functions like formulas, filters, and charts.

Today, we take the next step on that journey and allow clients to work with their own data as a data type. For example, if you have a system for tracking your customers, and you want to bring this customer data into Excel for analysis, you can now import it as a richly structured “customer” data type organized the way you or your company they defined the “customer”. If you are a Power BI customer, Excel will automatically connect to Power BI, and the data you have published will be easy to discover and will flow to Excel as an organized data type. If you have data that you want to use as a data type in Excel, just post it to Power BI and the rest will take care of you and everyone with access. If you don’t have Power BI, you can still take advantage of the Power Query technology in Excel to manually connect to dozens of different types of data sources and specify that you want to organize the data as a data type.

We are also continuing to expand the number of public data types so that we can work on expanding the geography and holdings data types. We have partnered with Wolfram to allow hundreds of new data types to flow into Excel. Supplement your analysis with associated data types like chemistry, nutrition, zip codes, historical events, and even genetics. Join the Insider Beta Program to take a look at this potential and send us your feedback.

Evolution of data types
Before we go into more detail about the new data types you can connect to, I’d like to provide a bit more context on why the data type platform is so important and how it will improve the way you work with Excel in the future. Up to this point, the Excel grid has been flat – it’s two-dimensional. You can map numbers, text, and formulas on the flexible grid, and people have created amazing things with these capabilities. However, not all data is flat, and forcing data into this two-dimensional structure has its limits. With data types, we add a third dimension of what you can create with Excel. Any cell can now contain a rich set of data organized in a single cell.

Data types are rich and go beyond numbers and strings: only a cell value can contain a deep set of hierarchical data, references to other data types, images, and smart actions. You are also connected and can refer to live services that provide data that can be updated at any time. This means that data types offer you two main advantages over the old way of working with data and flexibility and trust.

The advantage that Excel has over any other analysis / data tool is its flexibility. People constantly develop their spreadsheets to map the changing needs of their business operations. So now to get a value in a cell you have to either type a formula or type the value directly to a cell. One cell, one value. If you want another value, repeat the process; Fill the grid with a mix of offline data and helper cells. With data types, all that changes. Now the cell can have a realistic data type; A cell, a world of possibilities. Data types allow you to bring the data that matters to you to the grid, in its most natural form, and unleash the power of Excel to obtain important information. With data types, the value of a single cell can contain a directly related set of information that you can quickly incorporate into your decision-making process, without constantly consulting the original source for more information. Take advantage of the card view to see more information about this type of data and to explore relevant information. This additional information can be used in the formulas you write and the charts you create, and it can even be used to change the way you sort and filter. This will allow you to create more dynamic and faster spreadsheets with robust attributed data and less chance of error.

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