Gurus in your organization's spreadsheet know how to use pivot tables to obtain valuable information from a tangle of numbers. It's been what has separated these people from the rest of us, but Google is determined to democratize the pivot table in the latest version of Google Sheets announced today.
Google is accomplishing this by adding artificial intelligence under the hood. The new features are based on the Explore feature that the company added last year. The idea here is to start taking automation to the data stack to help bring out meaningful ideas.
Today's feature adds the learning machine to the pivot tables to achieve a couple of great advances. To begin with, instead of manually creating a pivot table to sort your data set, Google Sheets can suggest a pivot table based on the data you have in Google Sheets automatically. No more begging at the door of the guru for the spreadsheet mortals among us. This puts them within reach of anyone.
There is also a query interface in the natural language in the Explore panel, so you can ask questions in simple English (or in the language of your choice over time, it supports English) and the Applications can find the data in the pivot table for you. You no longer have to search for the data. You can ask a question and get an answer (assuming it is there to be found, of course).
For those who are from the old school and want to create their dynamic tables from scratch, Google also loves them. It uses the same intelligence that it provides to mere mortals to create dynamic tables to make suggestions that can also help you.
Not everything is a matter of intelligence, you know. He also wants his pivot table interface to look good and Google updated the Pivot Table UI including customizable headers, rows and columns.
Google does not limit intelligence to dynamic tables either. You are trying to add it to the entire spreadsheet experience, so if you are entering data, you might see suggestions about what formula you could use for a given type of information. If this works well, it could be quite useful, but if it does not, it could be annoying.
All this and more will be extended in the coming months, according to Google.
Featured image: Jon Russell / Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE (THE PICTURE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)