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The Perfect On-Ramp for Spreadsheet Users

March 15, 2023
Automation inspiration
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Spreadsheets have cemented their place as a go-to tool for many individuals and businesses to analyze and manipulate data. However, despite their usefulness, spreadsheet users often face significant challenges when it comes to data analytics. These include limitations in data volume and variety, difficulties in ensuring accuracy, and – perhaps the most frustrating – time-consuming manual processes. Without the right tools, data cleaning, transformation, and analysis can take an enormous amount of time, leaving little time for making timely informed decisions.

Upskilling to using data analytics platforms is an effective way to overcome these challenges. Data analytics platforms can handle large volumes and diverse types of data and automate repetitive tasks. They prevent errors from being introduced in analyses through easy-to-follow visual workflows where you can view each step of the analysis to quickly spot and correct mistakes. These platforms also let you perform more advanced analyses with your data than the limited number of operations available in spreadsheets. Moreover, data analytics platforms enable easier collaboration than spreadsheets with specific capabilities like being able to save and share your analytical workflows with others and even being able to offer them as interactive data apps to stakeholders. But moving beyond the traditional ways of working in spreadsheets and developing the skills to use these platforms can feel intimidating.

Low-code/no-code data analytics platforms such as KNIME are key to easing this transition from spreadsheets as they make it easier for individuals with little to no programming experience to start building and automating visual workflows without writing code. To make this shift even easier, last week we announced early access to KNIME Analytics Platform Version 5, with a Starter Perspective specially designed for spreadsheet users.

The Starter Perspective is intended to be easy to navigate with a targeted set of nodes for commonly performed data manipulation tasks that let you get familiar with building your own data analytics workflows. With nodes for reading and writing data to spreadsheets, cleaning, merging, aggregating, filtering, and applying formulas to data, as well as visualizing data through charts and sending files via email, you can easily set up a workflow with a drag and drop interface. Once built, you can run the workflow whenever you want. All the concepts that you learned from years of spreadsheet use translate perfectly in the Starter Perspective, but in a faster and simpler way. This makes the Starter Perspective the ideal launchpad for users to upgrade from using spreadsheets alone to combining them with visual workflows and eventually progressing to using visual workflows entirely for analysis.

Additionally, the Starter Perspective comes with companion resources such as a cheat sheet for spreadsheet users detailing the included nodes and their purposes, a getting started guide to help you build your first workflow, and a collection of example workflows that can be reused. These workflows are designed to demonstrate how nodes can be connected to create data processing pipelines, and they can be used as a starting point for your own projects. As a spreadsheet user, you're probably used to starting with a blank worksheet and building your analysis from scratch. The example workflows in KNIME can help you get up and running quickly and give you ideas for how to approach your own data analysis tasks.

The KNIME Starter Perspective is a useful tool for spreadsheet users who are interested in data analytics and automation. Its user-friendly interface, targeted set of nodes for data wrangling, visualization capabilities, and companion resources make it easy to start building your own workflows and gain insights from your data. Whether you're looking to automate repetitive data analysis tasks or take on more complex data projects, KNIME is the perfect gateway to achieving your goals.

Try out KNIME today and kick off your journey towards data-driven insights.