Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio vs Excel: A Comparative Guide

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    Comparing Google Data Studio with Excel reveals key differences in data visualization and analysis capabilities, essential for informed decision-making in business intelligence. While Google Data Studio excels in creating interactive reports and dashboards, Excel is a robust tool for complex calculations and data manipulation.

    In the digital age, efficiency and integration with data sources are crucial for BI tasks. This comparison will highlight the strengths and limitations of each platform in the context of reporting and data analytics. Additionally, we'll explore how Sourcetable offers a contemporary, spreadsheet-like interface that seamlessly syncs with your data, positioning itself as a compelling alternative to Google Data Studio or Excel.

    Google Data Studio

    What is Google Data Studio?

    Google Data Studio is a business intelligence and analytics tool designed to transform raw data into strategic information. As a component of the Google Marketing Platform, it serves as a free, powerful option for digital marketing analysis.

    • Functionality

      Primarily, the tool is utilized for creating dashboards that analyze and present data, which is essential for reviewing strategy results and informed decision-making.

    • Integration

      It offers seamless integration with various platforms, enhancing its utility in managing and interpreting diverse data sources.


    What is Excel?

    Excel is a spreadsheet program developed by Microsoft. As part of the Office product group, it enables users to format, organize, and calculate data. Excel's compatibility with other Office suite applications enhances its utility across various operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

    • Business and Management Applications

      Excel is widely utilized in business for diverse purposes, such as business analysis, human resource management, and operations management. It plays a critical role in performance reporting, data verification, and data entry and storage.

    • Data Analysis and Reporting

      For data analysis, Excel offers tools and features that support strategic analysis, accounting, and budgeting. Its capabilities are essential for administrative, managerial, and account management tasks.

    • Project and Office Administration

      Excel's versatility extends to project management and office administration, providing a comprehensive solution for managing business and administrative activities.

    Google Data Studio

    Google Data Studio Key Features

    Google Data Studio is equipped with a total of 23 features divided across 5 categories, enhancing data reporting and visualization.

    Reporting and Dashboards

  • Ad hoc reporting
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Customizable reports
  • Dashboard creation
  • Collaboration and Sharing

  • Collaboration tools
  • Activity Dashboard
  • Branding and Customization

  • Customizable branding
  • Access and Control

  • Access Controls/Permissions
  • Audit Management
  • Integration and Alerts

  • API
  • Ad hoc Query
  • Alerts/Notifications
  • Excel

    Excel Function Overview

    Function Categories and Accessibility

    Excel provides a vast library of functions, totaling 10,254, organized into 7 categories. These include Cube, Database, Date and Time, Engineering, Statistical, Math and Trigonometry, and Financial functions. Users can access these functions by browsing through the categories or by using the Ctrl+F shortcut to search for functions by name or description.

    Financial Functions

  • The ACCRINT and ACCRINTM functions calculate accrued interest for securities.
  • The ACCRINT and ACCRINTM functions calculate accrued interest for securities.

  • Functions like AMORDEGRC and AMORLINC are used for calculating depreciation.
  • Functions like AMORDEGRC and AMORLINC are used for calculating depreciation.

  • Coupon functions, including COUPDAYBS, COUPDAYS, and COUPNCD, assist in bond-related calculations.
  • Coupon functions, including COUPDAYBS, COUPDAYS, and COUPNCD, assist in bond-related calculations.

  • CUMIPMT and CUMPRINC functions compute cumulative interest and principal payments.
  • CUMIPMT and CUMPRINC functions compute cumulative interest and principal payments.

  • DB and DDB functions offer different methods for asset depreciation.
  • DB and DDB functions offer different methods for asset depreciation.

  • Functions like FV and NPV are essential for evaluating investments.
  • Functions like FV and NPV are essential for evaluating investments.

    Forecasting Functions

    Excel's forecasting functions, such as FORECAST.ETS and its related functions, apply advanced algorithms like the Exponential Smoothing (ETS) to perform time series forecasting. The FORECAST function now utilizes a linear trend algorithm, and FORECAST.ETS.CONFINT provides confidence intervals for forecasted values.

    Web and Text Functions

    Web functions enhance Excel's capabilities but are not available in Excel for the web. Similarly, user-defined functions are not supported on the web version. Excel’s text functions, including CLEAN, CONCAT, and EXACT, help manipulate and analyze text data.

    Compatibility and Cross-Platform Use

    Due to platform differences, Excel functions may yield varying results. For instance, the ASC function modifies character widths, and functions like ARRAYTOTEXT and BAHTTEXT cater to specific formatting needs. However, web functions and user-defined functions will not function in Excel for the web.

    Google Data Studio

    Advantages of Google Data Studio for Business Intelligence

    Cloud-Based and Managed

    Google Data Studio's cloud-based nature ensures that users have access to their reports and dashboards from anywhere, promoting flexibility in business intelligence (BI) tasks. Being completely managed, it reduces the need for in-house IT resources.

    Integration with Google Applications

    Tight integration with Google applications streamlines data analytics workflows, especially for businesses already leveraging Google's ecosystem.

    User-Friendly Interface

    The platform's intuitive UI simplifies the creation and sharing of reports, making it accessible for users with varying technical expertise.

    Access Control

    Granular access controls enable secure sharing and collaboration on BI reports, ensuring data governance and compliance.


    As a free tool, Google Data Studio provides a cost-efficient solution for businesses looking to perform BI tasks without additional software expenses.

    Data Connectivity and Blending

  • Support for live connections to data sources allows for real-time data analysis.
  • Easy data source blending facilitates comprehensive insights by combining different datasets.
  • Suitable for Various Users

    Google Data Studio serves well for users who primarily use Google services or those requiring straightforward dashboards for their BI needs.

    Google Data Studio

    Disadvantages of Google Data Studio

    Time-Consuming Report Creation

    Creating reports in Google Data Studio is a time-intensive process, leading to delays in data analysis and decision-making.

    Lack of Real-Time Updates

    The inability of Google Data Studio to refresh dashboards in real-time can lead to decisions based on outdated information.

    Limited Visualization Options

    Users face constraints with the range of charts and interactive elements, which can hinder effective data presentation.

    Restricted Data Source Integration

    With limited data connections available, Google Data Studio may not support all the data sources businesses require for comprehensive analytics.

    Instability with Multiple Data Sources

    Performance issues arise when integrating numerous data sources, which can result in dashboard breakdowns.

    Inadequate for Complex Visualizations

    For intricate and advanced data visualization needs, Google Data Studio falls short, limiting the depth of insights that can be conveyed.

    Dependency on External Data Tools

    It solely reports on data that can be imported from other tools, which may not be viable for businesses looking for an all-inclusive solution.

    Google Data Studio

    Frequently Asked Questions About Google Data Studio

    What is Google Data Studio and how much does it cost?

    Google Data Studio is a free Business Intelligence software that is particularly beneficial for digital marketing reporting and suitable for a variety of use cases.

    How does Google Data Studio compare to other data tools?

    Google Data Studio is more similar to Business Intelligence tools like Tableau, Looker, and Power BI as it transforms data. It is different from basic data visualization tools that only visualize data.

    Is Google Data Studio suitable for non-technical users?

    Yes, Google Data Studio is designed to be easy to learn with a drag-and-drop interface, making it accessible for non-technical users.

    Can Google Data Studio be used for reporting?

    Yes, Google Data Studio is good for digital marketing reporting among other use cases.

    Use Cases for Google Data Studio

    • Google Data Studio


    • Google Data Studio

      Building dashboards

    • Google Data Studio

      Blending Looker-governed data with data from over 500 sources to generate insights


    Advantages of Using Excel for Business Intelligence

    Data Management and Analysis

    Excel excels in managing and analyzing data, which are crucial aspects of business intelligence. Its versatility allows for handling diverse data tasks, including organizing and manipulating large datasets efficiently.

    Reporting and Decision Making

    With Excel, creating spreadsheets that serve as informative reports is straightforward. The tool supports decision-making processes by enabling users to perform complex calculations and automate repetitive tasks, leading to insightful analysis.

    Visualization and Collaboration

    Excel's capability for creating charts and graphs enhances data visualization, a key element in business intelligence for conveying complex information clearly. Additionally, Excel facilitates collaboration and data sharing among team members, streamlining the business intelligence workflow.


    Disadvantages of Using Excel for Business Intelligence

    Limited Data Handling Capabilities

    Excel's inability to manage large datasets efficiently can significantly hinder performance in business intelligence tasks, leading to slower data processing and analysis.

    Poor Collaboration and Project Management

    With limited collaboration features, Excel fails to provide an optimal environment for teams to work together on data analytics, which is crucial for timely and informed decision-making in business intelligence.

    Security and Error Risks

    Vulnerability to human error and subpar security measures make Excel a risky choice for handling sensitive business intelligence data, potentially leading to data breaches or inaccurate reporting.

    Inadequate Automation and Integration

    The lack of automation features and limited integration with other tools compromises the efficiency of data analytics processes in Excel, resulting in a manual and time-consuming workflow for business intelligence activities.

    Scalability and Visualization Limitations

    Excel's limited scalability and visual project tracking tools impede the growth and dynamic data visualization needs of evolving business intelligence requirements.


    Frequently Asked Questions About Excel

    Does Excel offer any assistance to help me learn how to use formulas and other features?

    Yes, Excel offers live coaching to help you learn formulas, tips, and more.

    Are there any ready-made templates in Excel to help me get started with my work?

    Yes, Excel has templates that you can use to streamline your work.

    Can I ask questions about my data in Excel without using formulas?

    Yes, Excel has a feature that allows you to ask questions about your data without writing formulas.

    Has support for Excel 2013 ended?

    Yes, support for Excel 2013 has ended.

    What should I do now that support for Excel 2013 has ended?

    You should upgrade to Microsoft 365.

    Use Cases for Excel

    • Excel

      Financial forecasting

    • Excel

      Budget tracking

    • Excel

      Sales data analysis

    • Excel

      Inventory management


    Advantages of Sourcetable Over Google Data Studio and Excel

    • Streamlined Reporting and Analytics

      Sourcetable offers a unified platform that merges data from various services, simplifying the process of reporting and analytics. Unlike Google Data Studio's web-based tool, Sourcetable provides a spreadsheet-like interface that is familiar to Excel users but with enhanced capabilities for business intelligence.

    • Integrated Data Syncing

      With Sourcetable, syncing data across multiple services is seamless, which is an advantage over Excel's manual data management. This integration reduces the risk of errors and saves time, making it a superior choice for businesses aiming to streamline their operations.

    • User-Friendly Interface

      The spreadsheet-like interface of Sourcetable is intuitive, allowing users to navigate and manipulate data with ease. This user-friendly approach contrasts with the more complex dashboard creation process in Google Data Studio, making Sourcetable a more accessible option for users of all skill levels.

    • Efficient Collaboration

      While Google Data Studio allows real-time collaboration, Sourcetable's interface may be more approachable for teams familiar with spreadsheet software, thereby enhancing collaborative efforts in data analysis and decision-making processes.

    • Comprehensive Data Connectivity

      Although Google Data Studio connects to a variety of data sources through built-in and partner connectors, Sourcetable's ability to sync data across all services into one interface provides a centralized solution that can be more efficient for data analysis.

    Google Data Studio

    Google Data Studio vs. Excel: Similarities

    Data Visualization

    Both Google Data Studio and Excel offer data visualization options. Users can create reports and dashboards in both tools to represent data graphically.

    Data Connectivity

    Each platform can connect to a variety of data sources, although the specifics of these sources are not provided for Excel in the given facts.

    Sharing and Collaboration

    Google Data Studio and Excel allow for the sharing of reports and dashboards with others, facilitating collaboration.

    Web-Based Tool

    While Google Data Studio is exclusively web-based, Excel also offers a web-based version, enabling users to work from any location with internet access.


    Both tools allow for the creation of interactive reports, although the extent and nature of this interactivity are not detailed for Excel.

    Google Data Studio

    Differences Between Google Data Studio and Excel

    Web-Based vs. Desktop Application

    Google Data Studio is a web-based reporting tool, accessible via a browser, whereas Excel is primarily a desktop application. This means Data Studio can be used on any device with internet access without installing software, unlike Excel which requires installation on a computer.

    Interactive Reports and Dashboards

    While Excel offers static reporting, Google Data Studio specializes in creating interactive reports and dashboards. This interactivity allows for a more dynamic data exploration experience in Data Studio.

    Data Connectivity

    Google Data Studio provides built-in and partner connectors, enabling users to connect to a wide range of data sources easily. Excel requires more manual setup to import data from various sources.

    Real-Time Collaboration

    Data Studio allows multiple users to collaborate in real time, enhancing team productivity and data sharing. Excel has limited real-time collaboration capabilities, often leading to version control issues.

    Sharing and Embedding

    Data Studio reports can be shared with individuals, teams, or the world and embedded on any web page. Excel reports are typically shared as files, and embedding them into web pages is not directly supported.


    Google Data Studio is free to use, while Excel requires a purchase or an Office 365 subscription.

    Extension and Customization

    Data Studio can be extended through the Looker Studio developer platform, allowing for greater customization. Excel is highly customizable but lacks a dedicated developer platform for extensions.


    Comparing Google Data Studio, Excel, and Sourcetable

    Google Data Studio vs. Excel

    Google Data Studio is a web-based reporting tool that specializes in creating interactive reports and dashboards, while Excel is a spreadsheet application designed for a variety of data manipulation tasks. Data Studio offers built-in and partner connectors for a wide range of data sources, which Excel does not inherently provide. Excel requires additional tools or services for similar connectivity. Data Studio reports can be easily shared and embedded in web pages, a feature that Excel supports in a more limited capacity through Excel Online and sharing options. Unlike Excel, Data Studio allows for real-time collaboration.

    Google Data Studio vs. Sourcetable

    While not directly described, Sourcetable is assumed to be a data management tool for comparison purposes. Google Data Studio's primary focus is on interactive reporting and dashboard creation, which may differ from Sourcetable's capabilities and features. Data Studio's sharing, embedding, and real-time collaboration features might contrast with Sourcetable's functionalities. It is free to use, which could be a differentiating factor if Sourcetable operates on a paid model.

    Excel vs. Sourcetable

    Excel is a robust spreadsheet tool often used for data analysis, budgeting, and various data manipulation tasks, while Sourcetable might offer specialized data management or reporting features. Excel's functionality can be extended with add-ons and macros, potentially making it more versatile than Sourcetable if it is more narrowly focused. Sharing and collaboration in Excel are more traditional compared to web-based platforms, which may offer a more seamless sharing experience, as is the case with Data Studio.


    Frequently Asked Questions About Sourcetable

    What is Sourcetable and who is it for?

    Sourcetable is a spreadsheet application that allows users to access data from most 3rd party applications, query data, and build live models that automatically update. It is designed for growth teams and business operations folks who need to centralize, analyze, and model data that updates over time, without the need for coding.

    How does Sourcetable compare to tools like Excel or Google Sheets?

    Sourcetable replaces workflows that are typically done in Excel, Google Sheets, and Business Intelligence tools by syncing data from over 100 applications and most databases, and allowing users to build live models that automatically update as data changes.

    How much does Sourcetable cost?

    Sourcetable costs $50 per month for the starter plan and $250 per month for the pro plan. Each plan comes with a 14-day free trial, and the pro plan includes the first 5 users. Additional seats cost $20 per month per user.

    How often does Sourcetable sync data?

    Sourcetable syncs data every 15 minutes on the regular plan and every 5 minutes on the pro plan.

    Do I need to have coding skills to use Sourcetable?

    No, Sourcetable does not require coding skills. Users can start creating reports and build live models within minutes.

    Google Data Studio

    Looker Studio (Formerly Google Data Studio) Cost

    • Looker Studio Free Version

      As of 2024, Looker Studio offers a free version with certain usage limitations.

    • Looker Studio Pro Version

      The cost details for Looker Studio Pro are not specified.

    • Additional Costs

      Using Looker Studio may incur third-party costs.


    Excel Cost Overview

    Excel is a versatile spreadsheet software compatible with Windows 11, Windows 10, and macOS. It offers real-time collaboration features for editing shared spreadsheets. To utilize this function, OneDrive is required. The cost structure for Excel can vary based on the chosen version and licensing model.

    Google Data Studio

    User Reviews of Google Data Studio

    Google Data Studio is acknowledged as a Business Intelligence (BI) tool that delivers various functionalities for data analysis and report creation. Its cost-free nature is frequently highlighted in reviews, making it an accessible option for users looking to visualize and report on data without financial investment.

    • Connectivity and Data Handling

      Users appreciate the ability to connect to a wide range of data sources, with support for over 300 partner connectors. The option to upload CSV files is also seen as a beneficial feature. However, there are limitations with data storage; while Google Data Studio does not store data from sources like Google Sheets and Google Analytics, it uses the Extract Data connector to store data, capped at 100MB per source.

    • Data Blending and Calculations

      The data blending feature of Data Studio receives mixed reviews due to its limited capabilities. The fact that only LEFT OUTER JOINs are allowed and calculations across blended data sources are not possible can be restrictive for some advanced users. Conversely, the ability to create calculated fields using SQL-like syntax is praised, especially since crafting simple formulas is considered easy.

    • Visualization and Reporting

      Google Data Studio offers a variety of visualizations, with 33 variations on 13 different types, including tables, scorecards, bullets, and treemaps. Its simple interface and the availability of community visualisations from third parties are well-regarded. The data explorer is also a notable feature for data discovery. Users value the platform's focus on connecting data and building reports, and the ease of sharing reports via email, link, or embedding in webpages is frequently mentioned positively in reviews.

      Note: Specific sources for reviews and ratings are not provided. Actual user reviews and ratings would typically be sourced from review platforms such as G2, Capterra, or directly from Google Data Studio's user feedback.


    User Reviews of Microsoft Excel

    • Overall Satisfaction

      Microsoft Excel has garnered a high overall rating of 4.8 out of 5, as reviewed by 18.9K users.

    • Value for Money

      Users rate Excel 4.8 out of 5 in terms of value for money, indicating a strong appreciation for the software's cost-effectiveness.

    • Usability

      Excel's ease of use is highly regarded, with a rating of 4.8 out of 5. Users find the software to be user-friendly and easy to navigate.

    • Features and Functionality

      With a 4.8 out of 5 rating for features, users are satisfied with Excel's capabilities in tracking progress, analyzing data, and staying organized.

    • Customer Support

      Customer support for Excel is rated at 4.8 out of 5, reflecting user satisfaction with the assistance provided.

    • Recommendation Likelihood

      Excel has a 9.13 out of 10 likelihood of being recommended by its users, showcasing its popularity and effectiveness.

    • Use Cases

    • Excel is praised for its utility in tracking progress.
    • Users find Excel effective for analyzing data.
    • The software is considered helpful for staying organized.
    • Its ease of use makes Excel a suitable tool for kids in school.
    • Limitations

    • Excel is noted for not being readily integrated with other information systems.
    • There is a consensus that Excel is insensitive to human errors, implying a need for careful data entry and review.


    In comparing Google Data Studio and Excel, each platform has distinct advantages for business intelligence. Google Data Studio is robust in data visualization and sharing capabilities, while Excel excels at deep data analysis and complex calculations.

    For those seeking a more streamlined business intelligence solution, Sourcetable offers an alternative. It integrates data in real time from various services into a single spreadsheet interface that is easy to use and familiar to many users.

    This integration simplifies data management and analysis, allowing businesses to make informed decisions quickly without navigating the complexities of traditional business intelligence tools.

    Simplify Your BI Tooling

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