How to Use Google Spreadsheets for No-Cost Data Analytics

Most users are unaware that Google Spreadsheets, a part of Google Docs, the online productivity suite that's free for individuals, has a majority of the features users look for in Microsoft Excel. Google Spreadsheets' analytics capability can instantly enhance your use of business, organizational or personal information. Knowledge Center contributor Oudi Antebi explains how Google Spreadsheets can satisfy virtually all of your daily spreadsheet needs, including how to use Google Spreadsheets for no-cost data analytics.


In some ways Google Spreadsheets goes beyond Microsoft Excel and can actually extend the enterprise user's capabilities. Google Spreadsheets can help users in the enterprise with collaboration, visualization and analytics. Here are some examples:

1. Collaboration

Google Spreadsheets allows multiple users to work together in real time on a single spreadsheet report. Even if you're not ready to replace Excel, you will benefit from uploading your existing spreadsheet to Google Spreadsheets, then inviting people to a collaborative session. When finished, you can simply save your spreadsheet back to Excel or keep it live on Google Docs.

2. Visualization

Google has built some interesting data visualization tools into its free Spreadsheets application. These tools, known as gadgets, can be added to a Google spreadsheet as needed. For example you can inset an animated "motion chart" into your spreadsheet to show how data has changed over time.

3. Data analytics

The analytical features in Google Spreadsheets are extremely powerful, enabling numbers to tell stories that might otherwise have never been found. By being able to "slice and dice" data, you can see your numbers in a new light and gain important insights.

Pivot tables are a great case in point for the power of analytics. By inserting a pivot table into your spreadsheet, you can instantly and dynamically compare classes or information such as expenses over time, sales by geography and so forth. Or you can quickly identify your top 10 (or bottom 10) products, vendors or salespeople.