Excel is so big!

Olisebuka Kanma Written by Olisebuka Kanma · 2 min read >


I remember during the interview process before my admission into LBS, one of the panellists asked me if I could use excel proficiently to which I replied, “Yes!”. She went on to ask, “do you know how to do V-look up?” and I did not have the foggiest idea what she was talking about. That experience was a sharp reminder of the inadequacies of my ‘vast’ knowledge.

A few months later I was in a brush-up session where excel was the topic, and I was exposed to the near boundless utility of excel! Having had excel on all my PC’s before now, comparing what I had previously used it for and what it can be used for, I felt like a lucky guy who had won the jackpot of a lifetime supply of exquisite continental meals but decided he would only eat dry chin-chin! Did you know excel can be used to do animations? I did not know that. I could never have guessed it if I had to. The experience confirmed an adage to me; the more you learn, the more you realize, there is a lot that you do not know.

While I don not expect to draw cartoons with excel during MBA program, I fully expect my use of excel to improve exponentially. Before LBS, I used excel in situations that I now consider truly laughable. For instance, if I was feeling too lazy to draw a table in MS word, I would use excel for what I wanted to do; if the document I was preparing involved adding up numbers, after imputing the data on excel, I performed the addition with the calculator on my phone! Imagine me thinking I knew how to use excel during the interview.

Needless to say, my use of excel has changed and truly improved since I started the MBA program. Working with excel sheets, as I am learning, can reduce greatly, the amount of time I use to work. Being skilled in the use of excel can significantly improve your work life. Performing arithmetic operations such as sum, averages, percentages, are done in seconds regardless of the size of the data. Collating and analysing data for business purposes no longer looks like a herculean task. One of the biggest benefits I have gotten from my new knowledge of using excel is finding duplicates. At my previous skill level, you can only imagine what I had to do to find duplicates.

The more you know, the more you know that you do not know. In spite of the incredible utility of excel, it has its limitations. Over one million rows, and more than sixteen thousand columns there is a class of data too big to be analysed in excel – big data. Amazing stuff! It is for this purpose we have Microsoft MYSQL and Oracle database. I am forced to think what could be so big it would not fit into the vastness of an excel spreadsheet, then I imagined that MTN does not have the data of all it’s customers on an excel spreadsheet. Now I extend my imaginations a bit, if excel can do all these wonderful things, what can the software for big data do?


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