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An Introduction to Simplifying Excel Data Analysis with AI Tools

Karson Madden

Are you tired of wrestling with complex Excel formulas and pivot tables? What if you could leverage the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify your spreadsheet tasks and discover insights effortlessly? That's not just a dream—it's a reality with AI tools like ChatGPT and Copilot! Let's dive into how you can use ChatGPT and other AI enhancements to transform your data interaction without needing deep technical skills.


Before you start: 

Always consider the security and data visibility before you start using an AI tool. You can find this info on the tool’s website under their terms and conditions and/or privacy policies. Here are some things to look for amidst the legal jargon: 

  • Does the tool make any distinction between public and private data?
  • Assuming the tool houses the information in a secure cloud or on-premises environment, what are their policies for keeping that data on their servers?
  • Are there sensitive PII (Personal Identifiable Information) that you can remove in your Excel sheet without affecting your analyzing outcomes?
  • Can you store all uploaded content (Word documents, Excel Sheets, etc.) on a private server that only your organization can access? (Crucial for businesses analyzing potential PII data)


Here’s an example of the US and EU (GDPR) determination on private information:

Personal Data Non-Personal Data

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Not PII but Personal Data under GDPR

A company's business ID


A shared email address such as


Anonymized data

Linked Information

Linkable Information


First or last name
(if common)

Device ID

Home address

Place of birth

IP addresses

Email address



Telephone number


Browser type*

Personal Identification Number


Plug-in details*

Personal Characteristics

Non-specific age (e.g. 20-30)


Biometric data

Business email


*depends on details

If you can’t find these answers through the tool's website or support/help desk channels, it’s safest not to use that specific tool.


Step 1: Gathering Your Data 

Before the magic happens, you need to organize your data. Ensure your datasets include key identifiers, which are unique columns like "Customer ID" or "Transaction Number" that allow you to link multiple sheets or databases effectively. Collecting and structuring your data with clear, consistent identifiers is crucial for smooth processing and accurate analysis.


Step 2: Uploading Data 

Once your data is ready, it's time to bring it into the AI realm. Consider what you are analyzing and what hypothesis you want to pose in the data. It’s best to tell the AI exactly what you’re looking for. 

Example Prompt: 

  • “Please look at the data I just uploaded. I would like to show a trend in user survey scores related to the number of times we’ve taught at their facility. Please include some low and high performing regions based on the scores and provide any other analysis that you see in the data”

While ChatGPT can’t directly upload data sheets unless you pay for a premium subscription, you can use integrations or add-ons that interface with it.


Step 3: Mapping Columns

Communicate with the AI tool about your data structure. Tell the AI which columns in different sheets should be linked—this is akin to setting up a VLOOKUP in Excel. For instance, you might instruct, "Match 'Customer ID' in Sheet 1 with 'Client ID' in Sheet 2." This step is crucial for merging and comparing data across different sources.


Step 4: Analyzing Data

With your data structured and understood, ask the AI to perform complex analyses, from trend detection to anomaly recognition. ChatGPT can generate summaries, extract patterns, and even offer predictive insights based on historical data. This step replaces traditional data analysis methods that often require significant manual effort and technical knowledge.


Step 5: Visualizing Data 

For visual representation, there are more than 31 flavors. For ChatGPT, add-ons like "Data Visualization Expert" or "Data Analyst" plugins can be invaluable. These tools work in tandem with ChatGPT to turn analyzed data into understandable and appealing visual formats like graphs and charts. This not only aids in better comprehension but also helps present your data compellingly. Other tools like Microsoft Copilot allow you to easily upload docs and data without needing a specific free add-on. 

Additional Tools and Tips 

  • Learning Resources: Use platforms like YouTube, Coursera, or Udemy, which offer courses on using AI for data analysis. YouTube is free, so I would start there.
  • Practice Datasets: Engage with online communities or datasets from Kaggle to practice your skills.
  • Regular Updates: Keep your software and plugins updated to leverage the latest features and enhancements.

Stay Tuned for Part 2

Next time we’ll put these steps to the test by showing a real-world example of what you can do with these powerful tools. In the meantime, let us know if you want to connect with an Ardent expert today.


Cover image generated by A.I. with guidance by an Ardent human.

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