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In Data Processing, what is a Pivot Table?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are many ways to present data in a computer program. The pivot table is designed to sort data by specific criteria. This enables data to be presented and organized in an aggregated manner so it can be used for data analysis. A pivot table summarizes and groups data based on specific data elements. This enables data to be presented in multiple formats, which makes it easier to determine trends and inconsistencies.

A pivot table is a good tool for presenting a company's quarterly earnings. Reporting sales data based on dates and regions typically requires manual spreadsheets that aggregate the sales data of a company by specific criteria. Using the pivot technique automates this spreadsheet process and enables the data to be reorganized very quickly.

Most spreadsheet automation software programs provide pivot table templates. This makes it easy for a data analyst to answer questions about a company's health and performance. It allows an analyst to group and organize spreadsheet data into distinct data fields, which can save many manual hours of analysis work.

Using a pivot table in Microsoft Excel® provides a quick method of aggregating data. This table view can be used to summarize sales from specific business units. Using the table can save hours of manual spreadsheet analysis because the table can be created and presented with a few clicks on the computer keyboard.

Many advanced database tools provide pivot queries as a quick method to aggregate and group data elements from a database. The pivot query is available as a simple query statement, which allows data to be returned in tabular format. This type of query can be used by the business as a crude reporting tool. The data returned from a pivot table can be stored and retained for later review. This allows auditors a method of reviewing historical information based on the data analysis rules defined by the organization, including a review of yearly trends and statistics.

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