The hype around analytics and its applications somehow leads to the impression that it is aided by some very serious applications and lots of programming. However, it should not come as a surprise that major portion of it is done in MS Excel. The demand of advanced users familiar with analytical skills also seem to grow. There is a vast number of resources for the practitioners and but the good ones are few. Recently I came across a book that is a fine example of this type - Predictive Analytics: Microsoft Excel by Conrad Carlberg.
Every now and then clients throws requests that challenge the usual way we do things. One of these challenges that come not that rarely is for Excel workbook working as a database. A recent request included a spreadsheet with over a thousand rows and about 250 columns with extensive set of extracts and charts based on it. The picture was completed with the perspective of growth in data size and analytics on it. The task challenged the usual methods for working with spreadsheet data and imposed some deeper and more careful selection of techniques. I would like to share some experience with such challenges.
Predictions are hard, especially for the future. However, there are people that make their living out of it. Some are good in it, others are successful and few are successful and famous. One of the latter kind is Nate Silver - a blogger and columnist in New York Times. His star rose with the accuracy of his predictions of the latest presidential vote in US and many of us have been willing to know the secret of his success. The thirst has been quenched by his book The Signal and the Noise.