Oz du Soleil still remembers the first time he discovered the real value of Excel in resolving a pesky data problem.
“I was working in a call center, and customers kept calling up with the same kinds of complaints. I was in charge of a program where people would get awards when they completed their continuing education, and I had to look up people who completed it and send out this gold pin and a certificate. And the admins would call up and say, ‘You people sent me this one again, and you didn’t send me these other two? You people! You people!’” he recalled with a laugh.
“And I would get these canned reports sent to me, and I could tell they were wrong. So after a while I would say, ‘Just stop sending me that dang report. I will write a query, and then get this big data dump and just peel it down myself in Excel.’ So that’s where I really got into Excel—and all I could do at that time was drag stuff around, and filter and sort, and hand-color cells. I didn’t know Excel really, I didn’t know data. I just saw myself as a guy who was solving problems.”