The DataHero Blog

DataHero: Saving the World From Pivot Tables

August 1st, 2013

DataHero - Saving the world from pivot tables

At DataHero, we think data analysis should be simple.  However, if you’ve ever tried to analyze data that requires making a PivotTable in Excel, you may think you spend more time formatting and manipulating the data than you do finding answers.  We agree and this is why we made sure DataHero can help you stop using pivot tables forever.

But first, let’s take a quick step back.  What is a pivot table, why is it useful and when would I use one?  Any time data comes in a table structure of rows and columns, for example Google Analytics website traffic, transactional sales-records, or even bit-coin market data, it usually comes as a flat table that looks something like this:

Flat Table Example

While there is a lot of good information in the data, unless you’re Good Will Hunting or a mathematical genius, it can be difficult to summarize this data, especially if it has columns of text, categories, dates, or repeating identifiers.  If I want to ask a question like “What Medium had the most Visits by Date?” you’ll need a pivot table to summarize the information into a consolidated table. While this is better than the flat table, I’d argue that for many of us, sometimes it can be more effective to see the information visually.

DataHero Visits by Date & Medium

DataHero to the rescue.  I’ve borrowed this export from Google analytics which was the basis of the 12-minute pivot table intro video below to show you how easy it is to simply “ask” your question with DataHero.  Let’s go through the steps I took to create the graph above:

1) Imported the data and verified it imported as expected

DataHero Successful Import

2) Create new chart in 3 drags of the mouse:

  a) drag on Medium

  b) drag on Visits

  c) drag on Date

Drag On Items to Make a Chart

Without worrying about rows, columns, aggregations or groupings, DataHero automatically created the recommended visualization it felt best conveyed the answer to my question.  Beneath the hood, it automatically pivoted the data AND created this beautiful chart in a matter of a few seconds.

I can promise you it is not this easy to analyze the exact same data in Excel.  Making the pivot table alone that I’d need to recreate the chart above is a battle of using toolbars, menus, right-clicks and wizards to get a still very dense numerical table.

Pivot Table Example

In fact, it is so complex that analytic experts can create a 12-minute introductory video outlining the steps necessary to make this work.

So I’d challenge you, even if you are an expert Excel PivotTable genius, to give DataHero a try.   I promise you’ll spend a lot less time formatting your data and a lot more time getting answers.

By Jeff Zabel

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