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New Ideas: Insights Re-Badged

27 September 2018

It’s finally gone “Generally Available” – Ideas, the Artist Formerly Known as “Insights” – is now introduced in Excel to Win32 and Mac, and is apparently coming to Excel Online soon too.  We take issue with this official line though as it seems to us that it’s working fine and dandy in Win64 as well.

According to Bill Jelen, Ideas is the “… first icon added to the ‘Home’ tab in 11 years, 8 months, 23 days.  It must really be something special”.  Well, we can soon find out as it mirrors Power BI’s ‘Quick Insights’.

Here at SumProduct, we agree that understanding data can be quite a challenge, especially if the volume of data is large or if it's an unfamiliar dataset.  With Ideas (previously known as Insights), Excel automatically points out interesting patterns in user data, like trends and outliers.  Ideas in Excel shows high-level summaries, statistically significant findings and recommended visualisations.  Ideas also helps you leverage Excel PivotTables and PivotCharts (if you still need them, given our discussion on Dynamic Arrays!). 

It’s not just that it’s been renamed and become “Generally Available”.  There’s been some updates too:

  • Easier to understand chart previews
  • New analysis types including scatter charts and outliers
  • Updated machine learning models to make more powerful suggestions
  • Now available in English, French, Spanish, German, Simplified Chinese and Japanese.

To get a feel for Ideas, here’s a couple of examples:

  1. There is now support for scatter charts – something we think really should have been in from the beginning
  1. Microsoft has added something they have confusingly called “subtitles”, to include additional supporting information to help better understand suggestions

Why not have a play..?  This feature is being made available to customers on a gradual basis over several weeks.  It will first be available in English, French, Spanish, German, Simplified Chinese and Japanese to Office Insider participants on Windows and Mac, and later to Office 365 subscribers.  If you are an Office 365 subscriber, make sure you have the latest version of Office.

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