Chapter 1. Understanding PivotTables

Understanding Data Analysis

The PivotTables and PivotCharts that you learn about in this book are part of the larger category of data analysis. You can get the most out of these tools if you have a broader understanding of what data analysis is, what its benefits are, and what other tools are available to you.

Data analysis is the application of tools and techniques to organize, study, reach conclusions about, and sometimes also make predictions about, a specific collection of information. A sales manager might use data analysis to study the sales history of a product, determine the overall trend, and produce a forecast of future sales. A scientist might use data analysis to study experimental findings and determine the statistical significance of the results. A family might use data analysis to find the maximum mortgage they can afford or how much they must put aside each month to finance their retirement or their kids' education.

The point of data analysis is to understand information on some deeper, more meaningful level. By definition, raw data is a mere collection of facts that by themselves tell you little or nothing of any importance. To gain some understanding of the data, you must manipulate it in some meaningful way. This can be something as simple as taking the sum or average of a column of numbers, or as complex as employing a full‐scale regression analysis to determine the underlying trend of a range of values. Both are examples of ...

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