Befriending Data Analytics – How I Started This Journey

Befriending Data Analytics – How I Started This Journey

Imagine being in a place with terrible internet reception, and your work relies on a constantly updating spreadsheet. To make matters worse, tight deadlines are looming over you! It doesn’t sound good, and yet this story is not very foreign to all of us. In this situation, spreadsheets might appear to be a nuisance, an eye-sore rather than an asset, demanding that constant internet connection we so dearly crave and our attention which has been depraved by all those notifications from our phones. But let me assure you, we can get the work done with spreadsheets, and I think you can too.

It all started with Excel

So, why did I venture into the world of data analytics in the first place? It all began in July 2021 when I found myself confronted with a business problem. I was given a task to solve between the discrepancy between the number of items in some storerooms and the recorded inventory in spreadsheets. Due to some setbacks of our current ERP system and other regulations, coupled with the fact that I could only use spreadsheets, I took the plunge and enrolled in several courses with Maven Analytics. I did not finish all the courses I enrolled to, but the quest for knowledge didn’t stop there. It evolved and adapted, much like what we’re seeing with the development of AI.

The turning point in my journey came when I discovered some wonderful formulae in Excel, like XLOOKUP, SORT, UNIQUE, and other dynamic array formulae. These Excel formulae boosted my productivity, and with some help from ChatGPT in 2022, I could write some Python codes. This led to streamlining my workflow, allowing me more time to explore and deepen my technical skills. But it’s not all about hard skills. Both hard and soft skills are important not only in the workforce, but also for the community. Hence, I started this blog.

Why spreadsheets?

Now, you might wonder: How do spreadsheets compare to other data analytics tools? And what is the connection of these spreadsheets with the stories you want to share? For starter, if you’re working in the office, you will always use spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are just indispensable to our work. If you’re dealing with small datasets and need quick, easy-to-use solutions, Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are your best friends.

As this journey of diving into data analysis continues, I also start using Linux. It’s not easy to make that switch, and as an Excel user, I came to terms that I could not use Excel in my Linux device. Yet, this does not stop me from using spreadsheets in Linux. In fact, the convenience of Google Sheets has finally won me over. The more I explored, the more I appreciated the niche functionalities it offers. From designing tables and performing SQL-like queries to handling heavy-duty data analysis, Google Sheets became my go-to tool. This cannot be done in Excel, unless you use Power Query, DAX and M code.

Of course, there are scenarios where manual data analytics process is still preferred, particularly for complex datasets or intricate mathematical calculations. In the end, it all boils down to striking the right balance and staying flexible.

Aren’t AI going to replace us?

Looking towards the future, it’s impossible to ignore the rise of AI. There’s concern about job loss due to AI, and I feel sorry for people who have lost their job to AI. I’ve seen some posts on LinkedIn about copywriters losing their income because companies are just using ChatGPT for their contents. I also have to admit using ChatGPT during my brainstorming sessions while writing the draft of this blog.

I know we are living in unprecedented times. At the same time, I’m quite shocked that peers around me underutilize these AI tools. I believe it is of paramount importance of being resilient and adaptable. Above all, we have to keep reminding ourselves to diversify our skill sets. It’s not about becoming a jack of all trades, but having the wisdom to respond swiftly and prudently to changes. Be open to technological advancements, invest in new skills, and keep pushing forward.

The economic outlook doesn’t look good.

“Australians can cut spending or work more: Philip Lowe”
ABC News (Australia)
Philip Lowe, former RBA Govenor
Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

As I get more affluent in using spreadsheets, I can’t stop looking at the outlook of the global economy. Inflation is everywhere in 2023. I feel sorry for people in Australia with the RBA rising the interest rates for more than 10 times in the recent years. If you look at Singapore, people are telling that they cannot afford their lifestyle there because everything becomes so expensive. For Malaysians, people feel angry with their weakening currency (per 29 July 2023, SGD/MYR rate is 3.4214). All of this news is not good.

I’m very fortunate that I do not feel the same way. It’s true that the inflation rate in Indonesia is not as high as those in the aforementioned countries, but we have a weaker currency compared to those of other nations. Hence, I’d like to share how I use Google Sheets not just for increasing the efficiency of the work of my current role, but I’m also using some useful Google Sheets’ formulae to offset these economic challenges personally.

P.S.: This is the first part of my first Google Sheets portfolio. You’ll see more updates on this page later, or feel free to check my LinkedIn profile.

Raymond Yeoh

Hi there! Welcome to 'Biryani Bytes.' This isn't simply a showcase of my tech expertise. It's much more—it's a journey, a quest for a better life, chronicled here on this digital platform. 'Biryani Bytes' brings together tech chatter and stories from Southeast Asia. It covers a wide range of topics, from the area's mouth-watering food, interesting travel spots, to handy tips on managing your finances, tech upgrades, and so on.

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