Microsoft has introduced a new add-on for its Excel spreadsheet program, designed to streamline business forecasting. The add-on, titled Business Assist – Forecast, leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies to help businesses craft more accurate forecasts. The announcement was made via a recent post on the Microsoft 365 Insider blog.
The add-on aims to save users time spent on forecasting and analyzing historical data and trends, providing a comprehensive review functionality ideal for volume-based future support volume, based on prior data. Moreover, Microsoft emphasizes the potential of the add-on in bolstering customer service, by facilitating reliable prediction of service-call volumes.
Exploring Add-On Features and Functionality
For easy accessibility, the Business Assist – Forecast add-on can be found in the Add-ins option under the Home selection once Excel has been launched. Following the selection, users can easily install it by clicking the ‘Add' button right next to the add-on.
Once installed, importing data into the Date and Volume fields becomes feasible, paving the way for add-on launch and selection of the Forecast end date and Seasonality options. The forecast can then be executed simply by clicking on the ‘Run Forecast' option. Upon completion, users will be presented with two new Excel spreadsheets, enhancing their strategic forecasting efforts.
Covering a Range of Forecasting Needs
According to Microsoft, the versatility of the Business Assist – Forecast add-on extends to daily volume forecasting, with additional weekly options. Furthermore, it supports monthly forecasts for a period of six months. This add-on is already available in select versions of Excel, offering businesses increased options for anticipating future volumes and trends.
Business Assist – Forecast joins other recent changes Microsoft has made to Excel. Last week, the company brought improved functions for Excel on web. The update made several new improvements aimed at easing the process of creating and editing formulas inside web Excel. Perhaps the biggest addition is the introduction of the Insert Function Dialog.
Also last week, Microsoft made improvements to Excel's Narrator feature. The Narrator previously pronounced, “A1, selected, editable, column 2 row 2, item, test, cell” when users navigated to cell A1 containing the data called test. Post the update, it has been abbreviated to “test, A1”.