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Excel to Get Smarter in Office 2019: Will It Be Smart Enough for Finance?

Excel to Get Smarter in Office 2019: Will It Be Smart Enough for Finance?

Big news, Excel is about to get smarter—a lot smarter. With new features like integration with Bing Search and Insights powered by Microsoft Power BI, the world leader in spreadsheets is about to get a lot better. However, will it be able to handle finance? We explore the announcement and ask that very question below.

Office 2019 Hopes to Make Excel More Intelligent

Announced in a recent blog, Microsoft is taking steps to improve Excel in its 2019 release, which hopes to make the software smarter, more user-friendly, and more connected. Microsoft Office 2019, set to be released at the end of 2017, looks to improve among other things Microsoft Excel.

For personal and small business users, some of these new features will mark amazing strides forward for the software. For instance, the software will be linked to Bing Search and will also leverage PowerBI to understand and better react to user inputs.

As reported by Accounting Today, the “souped up” Excel will include the following, with more functionality to be announced in coming weeks:

  • Powered by Bing Search: Excel will be able to understand more about a user’s inputs, and pull information from the internet as needed. For example, users can tag a list as a certain category — such as “company names” — and Excel can get more information about the companies named in that list from Microsoft’s Bing search engine, which will be connected with the spreadsheet. Excel will also be able to discern what category a list might fall under by reading the content of the list.
  • “Insights” Powered by Power BI: Excel will feature a built-in tool that can create visual representations of the data within an Excel spreadsheet. Dubbed Insights, it is modeled after a similar tool in Microsoft’s Power BI suite. The charts and graphs are manipulable by the user as well.

The release will be much more feature-rich than this, and we’re actually pretty excited to see what else will come of the software, but even with the new functionality, one thing is clear: Excel was never designed to handle the finance and accounting needs of a growing business, and no amount of improvements will change that fact.

Will Excel Be Smart Enough for Accounting and Finance? Probably Not

Here’s the thing. Excel is a great tool for many things: Personal budgeting, non-essential number crunching, making charts, and more. However, when push comes to shove, spreadsheets—no matter how smart or well designed—are often full of errors, often take a lot of manual effort to manage and manipulate, and never should have a major role in the accounting department at a growing business.

The New Excel will offer users a lot of new and powerful features, but still isn’t built to handle complex needs like reporting, budgeting, forecasting and planning, and falters further when exposed to upcoming challenges for accounting like the new revenue recognition standards.

When you’re running the finances at a growing business, it pays to have accurate data, insightful and easy-to-use reporting, and advanced technology built to help finance and accounting to do their job better. Our friends at Sage Intacct recently discussed the shortcomings of spreadsheets in their whitepaper Eliminating the Risks in Spreadsheets in Finance, which found that no matter how advanced the spreadsheet or astute the user, errors can and will occur. Download the whitepaper here, and to learn even more, get in contact with us.


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