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Bringing AI To Excel Automation

By October 2, 2018June 11th, 2021No Comments

How AI is powering Excel Automation.</h1.

Introducing intelligent suggestions with Ideas

Ideas is an AI-powered insights service that helps people take advantage of the full power of Office. Proactively surfacing suggestions that are tailored to the task at hand, Ideas helps users create professional documents, presentations, and spreadsheets in less time.

In Excel, for instance, Ideas helps identify trends, patterns, and outliers in a data set—helping customers analyze and understand their data in seconds. Ideas will be generally available in Excel soon and will also begin rolling out in preview to other apps starting with PowerPoint Online. Simply click the lightning bolt icon in Excel or PowerPoint Online and Ideas will start making recommendations.

An animated image shows Ideas in Excel.

Making new data types generally available

Excel has always been great at helping people make the most of numbers. But now Excel can do even more: It can recognise real-world concepts, starting with Stocks and Geography.

This new AI-powered capability turns a single, flat piece of text into an interactive entity containing layers of rich information. For instance, by converting a list of countries in a workbook to “Geography” entities, customers can weave location data into an analysis of their own data. And this new capability though deceptively simple opens a whole new world of possibilities.

As we add new data types over time, Excel’s rows, columns, cells, logic engine, and tools can be used to organize, analyze, and reason over any combination of numbers and sophisticated entities. The Stocks and Geography data types are rolling out to general availability next month.


Image shows the Geography data type in Excel.

Saying goodbye to manual data entry

With Insert Data from Picture, you can take a picture of a printed data table with your Android device and convert that analog information into an Excel spreadsheet with a single click. New image recognition functionality automatically converts the picture to a fully editable table in Excel, eliminating the need for you to manually enter data. Insert Data from Picture will be available in preview for the Excel Android app soon.

An animated image shows Insert Data from Picture being used on a mobile device.

Calculating with ease using dynamic arrays

With dynamic arrays, we continue to invest in making advanced formulas easier to use. Using dynamic arrays, any formula that returns an array of values will seamlessly “spill” into neighboring unoccupied cells, making it as easy to get an array of values returned as it is to work on a single cell. You can immediately harness the power of dynamic arrays by using one of the new FILTER, UNIQUE, SORT, SORTBY, SEQUENCE, SINGLE, and RANDARRAY functions to build spreadsheets that would previously have been nearly impossible. So now, rather than writing many complex formulas to solve a multi-cell problem, you can write one simple formula and get an array of values returned.

An animated image shows Dynamic Arrays in Excel.


We’re not only adding new capabilities to Excel, we’re also continually improving the features customers already know and love. For example, we have invested in significant performance improvements for important lookup functions. We’re pleased to announce that VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, and MATCH functions operating on large data sets will now execute in seconds instead of minutes. We’ve also improved performance on many key operations like copy/paste, undo, conditional formatting, cell editing, cell selection, filtering, file open, and programmability.


An animated image shows the LOOKUP function in Excel.

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