Alation 2023.1: Empowering Business Users in Microsoft Office

By Salima Mangalji

Published on February 28, 2023

Two business users in an office setting discussing Alation 2023.1 on how to use it in Microsoft Office

With the launch of our latest product release, 2023.1, business users can access trusted data natively in an expanded suite of beloved products, as Alation Connected Sheets now works with Microsoft Excel and Alation Anywhere will work with Microsoft Teams. These new updates help teams collaborate more efficiently by connecting the data intelligence of Alation to the productivity tools they love.

Critical organizational data is often disparate, out-of-date, and hard to understand without proper context. For this reason, people often struggle to make vital business decisions as they face a complex data landscape. To where can they turn to navigate that landscape with confidence? Metadata is the information about data that gives it meaning and context. It helps to answer basic, yet important questions like: “What does this data mean?”, “Which data is used the most?”, “Where did it come from?”, and “Who are the subject matter experts who know this data best?”.

By centralizing contextual information about data in Alation and pushing it out to the tools and apps business users use daily, anyone working with data can gain valuable background information. In this way, Alation is empowering business users to use trusted data more wisely (and compliantly!) no matter where they work.

Business leaders are data leaders

According to a Global Data and Analytics Survey conducted by PwC, highly data-driven organizations are 3 times more likely to report significant improvements in decision-making. And even though business users are often overlooked as data consumers, they actually make many data-driven decisions in an organization. Teams such as finance, sales, marketing, and operations all need to provide data-derived solutions, conduct proactive transformation, and to understand their customers.

Where do these business users work? Most enterprises rely on Microsoft Office applications like Excel for visualization and analysis and Teams for collaboration; therefore, it is important to bring trusted data to users where they already are. With this release, business users can self-serve contextualized data.

Connected Sheets for MS Excel

In our last release, 2022.4, Alation announced the launch of Alation Connected Sheets for Google Sheets. Today, our Connected Sheets product has now expanded to Microsoft Excel.

With Alation Connected Sheets, business users can browse and pull the most current, compliant data directly from cloud sources into a spreadsheet – without SQL or subject matter expert assistance.

The same is now true for Excel. With a few clicks, users can self-serve natively within an Excel spreadsheet, without going through a long process to get the right information. They can even set their spreadsheets to auto-refresh on schedule, saving valuable time, money, and resources (and building trust across teams!).

With this refreshed contextual information, users create up-to-date visualizations with the fresh data in the sheet within one tool, instead of repeating processes every time a data source is updated.

Ultimately, governance remains key to Connected Sheets; with authorized log-in access and trust flags for endorsed, warned or deprecated signals available on the interface, compliant and trusted data is now visible directly in the sheet.

Alation Anywhere for MS Teams

Every data user has their beloved suite of tools. With Alation Anywhere, we meet them in the tools they use the most. This product surfaces rich contextual information via previews, allowing users to interact with data objects within common collaborative applications such as Slack and Tableau. These data objects could include anything from business glossary terms, to a database table or a SQL query with helpful descriptions. This drives collaboration between disparate team members, connecting those who live in the data with those who depend on the data to make decisions.

Our metadata previews will also soon be available on Microsoft Teams. As an example, if an analyst wanted to send information to a colleague about a distribution table, they could send a link to the Alation object within MS Teams. The colleague would then be able to view the table in MS Teams with contextual information such as: tags, descriptions, top users and more. Ultimately, these new updates deliver contextual, trustworthy data within peoples’ natural workflows.

Meeting business users where they are

Let’s take a look at a scenario where an Operations Manager utilizes Alation to mitigate a business risk through applications she uses regularly like Tableau, MS Teams and Excel:


Today, more than 78 million data workers are advanced spreadsheet users (IDC Report); their ability to access clean data on spreadsheets is critical for business success. In the past, business users have had to work with IT to get the fresh data they need… only for it to deprecate in days. This not only leads to bad business decisions, it corrupts trust between teams. Yet the usability of spreadsheets continues to make them a tool of choice for millions. With this update, spreadsheet users can restore trust in not just the analyses they build, but the decisions they drive.

Fostering a data culture within an organization can be effortless if people can access trusted data (and its context!) in the tools they use daily. This is the first, critical step in building a data culture. As a data intelligence platform, Alation’s vision is to connect to everything, and be embraced and adopted by everyone. In this light, it’s tough to overstate the value of quality, contextualized data in beloved tools like Excel and MS teams.

Curious to learn more? Check out the press release for details.

  • Business leaders are data leaders
  • Connected Sheets for MS Excel
  • Alation Anywhere for MS Teams
  • Meeting business users where they are
  • Conclusion
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