ChatGPT has various capabilities, and its natural-language processing makes it incredibly easy to use. This has led some users to utilize ChatGPT to help analyze data in their spreadsheets, whether that be through Excel, Google Sheets or even Python.
While ChatGPT certainly has some use cases for spreadsheets, it also has some limitations to be aware of. In this blog, we’ll take a look at how ChatGPT works with spreadsheets and talk about some alternatives for spreadsheet users that can make up for some of ChatGPT’s shortcomings.
Understanding ChatGPT and Natural Language Processing (NLP)
AI is becoming increasingly prevalent in a variety of industries, especially as the natural language processing capabilities of AI models continue to grow. Natural language processing allows users to interface and interact with AI models using natural language. An AI model can then generate responses and solutions based on the prompt.
Thanks to machine learning, these NLP AI models are trained on large amounts of language data, allowing them to understand, interpret and respond to human language. This greatly reduces the barrier to entry for using AI since you don’t have to have extensive technical knowledge to leverage these models.
ChatGPT is one of the most well-known and popular natural language processing AI models. To further expand its usability, ChatGPT now allows plug-ins and applications. The ease of use and a wide variety of capabilities of ChatGPT has led to many businesses adopting the technology for certain processes. Improving productivity in spreadsheets is just one of many use cases you can leverage using ChatGPT.
With that being said, ChatGPT is far from perfect and can make mistakes. We’ll touch on the limitations of ChatGPT in a bit, but first, let’s take a look at some ways users might utilize ChatGPT for spreadsheet analysis.
ChatGPT for Spreadsheet Analysis
If you aren’t a spreadsheet power user yet, ChatGPT can be a solid learning tool. The model can take your natural language questions and guide you to a solution. For example, if you want to combine two columns into a new column, ChatGPT can explain how and provide the function CONCAT that you would use. In this way, ChatGPT can help you analyze, explore, extract and visualize data in spreadsheet software like Excel or Google Sheets.
By showing you the steps to do more complex tasks in Excel, you can save time on doing research and be more productive. Of course, answering questions and guiding you to solutions aren’t the only areas where ChatGPT can help you in spreadsheets. Let’s take a closer look at some of ChatGPT’s capabilities in spreadsheet analysis.
Automating Repetitive Tasks
Rather than doing every Excel task yourself, ChatGPT can help you automate repetitive tasks in spreadsheets by providing example code that you can use. For example, ChatGPT can be used to automate data entry, formatting and calculations by generating VBA Macros that you can use in Excel.
While ChatGPT can’t do everything for you, you can save hours of time by having it perform simple and repetitive tasks that don’t need a ton of oversight. This frees up time for you to work more strategically and be more productive.
ChatGPT also learns as it goes, so as you use the tool more, it will learn to improve its actions and adhere better to your specific way of working.
Formula Assistance and Error Handling
When you’re working with spreadsheets, it can be frustrating when your formulas aren’t working, and errors are popping up. One small mistake can lead to issues across your spreadsheet and slow you down significantly. Fortunately, ChatGPT can help you with formula assistance and error handling.
One simple use of formula assistance is using ChatGPT’s natural language processing capabilities to your advantage. Instead of manually typing out complicated equations, you can describe the type of formula you need to ChatGPT, and it will spit out the equation for you, which you can then copy right into your Excel sheet.
You can also leverage ChatGPT for error handling. You can use its tools to help identify and resolve errors with your formulas, and it can even make smart suggestions on how you can improve your formula to optimize your spreadsheet. This can be especially useful when you’re working with large or complex data sets.
Integration of ChatGPT with Spreadsheet Software
To get the most benefit out of ChatGPT as a spreadsheet AI assistant, it would be helpful to integrate it with your spreadsheet software. This way, ChatGPT can help you with your spreadsheets and make suggestions in real-time, so you don’t have to switch back and forth from your spreadsheet to your ChatGPT window when you’re working.
However, this is one area where ChatGPT will need to see some improvements. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of ChatGPT integrations for spreadsheet software, and it may require a lot of coding and APIs to get them to work together. This negates some of the usability of ChatGPT, and ensuring a seamless integration can be a resource and time-intensive process.
With that being said, the potential of AI for data science is compelling, especially in the context of spreadsheets. While ChatGPT might not be the ideal solution for spreadsheet users right now, some solutions can serve your data science needs better, such as Mito. We’ll touch more on Mito in a bit.
Considerations and Limitations
So, we know that ChatGPT can be a great tool for learning, automation and error handling. However, it isn’t without its limitations. As mentioned, ChatGPT doesn’t have a ton of integrations for spreadsheets, so this is one limitation to keep in mind.
Another area of concern is data security and privacy. If you’re having ChatGPT interact with sensitive data, you’re adding another potential point of entry for data breaches and hacks. It’s important to ensure your ChatGPT integrations are properly secured and only accessible by authorized users.
Training data biases are another limitation to consider. While ChatGPT draws language data from a wide variety of sources, its training data is far from perfect and isn’t necessarily free from bias. You may run into situations where this bias isn’t filtered out, so it’s important to review any code, formulas or analysis generated by ChatGPT. To that end, ChatGPT also isn’t perfect from an information standpoint. It does make mistakes on occasion, so you can’t trust it unequivocally.
Finally, the limitations of Excel are problematic, so you may want to utilize Python and seek out Python-based AI tools to help you with this kind of data analysis.
The Potential of Python AI + SpreadSheet GUI
So, in theory, ChatGPT can help you use spreadsheets, but a Python-based AI assistant is much more powerful. Tools like Mito can provide you with a spreadsheet GUI too, so you’ll feel right at home with the interface and be able to access all the superpowers of Python AI at your fingertips.
Python is much more scalable and versatile compared to Excel and Google Sheets. Thanks to its extensive community and various open-source libraries, you can leverage Python-based data analytics and data science to a level that you can’t reach with Excel.
While Excel and Google Sheets can be sufficient for smaller-scale, simple analytics, Python can handle the massive data sets that businesses use regularly. While the use cases of ChatGPT can be helpful on occasion and don’t need to be ignored completely, the specific use cases of Python-based spreadsheet apps like Mito make them better data science tools overall.
Learn More About Mito
If you want to harness the power of Python’s vast and versatile data science tools, Mito can help. Mito is a Python-based spreadsheet app that allows you to interface with your data in a familiar spreadsheet GUI format. When you make changes to your spreadsheet, Mito will automatically generate the corresponding Pandas code so you can harness Python to its full capabilities. Not only does this automate coding tasks for experienced users, but it also helps nontechnical users upskill from Excel to Python and learn the programming language along the way. Ready to learn more about Mito? Install our app and try it out for yourself today.