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Introduction

Introduction

Many business computer users spend a majority of each working day analyzing data in a variety of electronic formats, whether the data is in spreadsheets, in databases, or on the Web. These users need to do more than just look at data; they need to make important business decisions based on this data—decisions that affect their individual workgroup, their own businesses, or their entire organization.

Finding an organization these days, large or small, that does not record facts and figures about its operations, products, services, and customers is rare. Perhaps you have encountered one of the following scenarios in your own organization or business:

  • Part of your role within your organization involves basing business decisions on the products or services that your customers purchase. By analyzing your customers’ purchasing trends, you know that if you take the right actions, you can increase sales and thereby increase your own value to the organization. Perhaps you aren’t quite sure how to determine these purchasing trends, or you’ve been analyzing purchasing trends but suspect that there’s a better way. Or maybe you’re using software applications from a company other than Microsoft to analyze these trends and you want to see what Microsoft has to offer to make your data analysis tasks easier.

  • Your manager has asked you to create some reports for her, summarizing the in-stock levels of your organization’s product over the last year. You’re not sure how to use your organization’s data analysis software to translate her request into the report format she prefers. Or maybe you frequently create your manager’s reports, but the process is always tedious, and you think there might be an easier way to do it.

  • For the first time, your organization’s chief operating officer (COO) asks you to present to him an analysis of your western region’s sales figures for the last fiscal quarter. You want to do a great job, but you’re a little nervous. You want to include compelling charts, callouts, highlights, recommendations for improvement, and footnotes to guide you in your presentation—and to guide your COO’s business decisions—but you’re not sure how to do all this with your data analysis software.

  • The business you started five years ago is reaching its stride and now it’s time to really get a hold of the financial numbers. You’ve increased the number of employees, struggled through several peak shopping seasons, and acquired a loyal customer base. Your current financial software applications are great for keeping track of your general ledger, but they fall short when it comes to really helpful data analysis. You purchased a copy of Microsoft Office at your local office supply warehouse and you’ve been using it to write and send out business letters, but you know there’s a lot more you can use it for, if you just knew how.

  • You develop software solutions for your organization, but you’ve never developed data analysis solutions before. Or perhaps you’ve developed software solutions but never any that use Microsoft applications. Or maybe you’re just looking to improve your overall skills for developing data analysis solutions with Microsoft software.

  • You are an information technology (IT) specialist, and you have just been put in charge of training users to increase their skills with Microsoft Office data analysis tools. You want to increase your own skills in this area as well as understand which skills you should incorporate into the training.

If you have experienced similar scenarios, then Accessing and Analyzing Data with Microsoft Excel will show you how to increase your skills with Microsoft data analysis software, which in turn will help you or your organization make smarter and faster business decisions. This introduction will help you further understand the purpose of this book, who the book is written for, and the topics it covers.

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