Sometimes when you look at Microsoft and its consumer products you really get the sense of a technology giant that has lost its way. But then it goes and releases something like GeoFlow Preview for Excel, and you really get to see what Microsoft is good at. 

GeoFlow, simply put, takes what is often inaccessible information contained in Excel in rows and columns and turns it into 3D visuals built on top of Bing Maps.

Microsoft GeoFlow

While that’s it in its simplest form, the reality of it is considerably more complex. But even in this Preview release it offers users visualized business intelligence that, because it is represented in three dimensions over a geographical area, offers users easy access to customer behaviors that they won’t get using two dimensional dashboards.

GeoFlow dashboard.jpg

Microsoft GoeFlow dashboard

On top of this, the origins of GeoFlow by their very nature mean big data, so the final result is a 3D visualization of big data analytics that is unique, and which, if marketed properly, could really offer Microsoft traction in a space that it isn't necessarily associated with.

Again, the key here will be successful launch and successful marketing and we are not going to discuss Microsoft’s record on that. In any case, the product is only in preview and it is not clear it will exit that.

GeoFlow Background

In the meantime, let’s take a look. GeoFlow Preview for Excel 2013 is the result of an ongoing project at Microsoft that pulled a number of teams together to enable users to plot and display temporal data visually, analyze that data in 3D and collaborate with others through interactive 3D tours.

A child of the Microsoft WorldWide Telescope project, which Microsoft says was a major success, its goal was to offer academic and scientific communities the ability to explore huge volumes of astronomical and geological data at a glance.

Learning Opportunities

Collaborating with the Office product team it pushed the initial project out of the research labs to the current public preview through Excel.

GeoFlow visual.jpg

GeoFlow intelligence

GeoFlow in Excel

With it, the existing business intelligence capabilities of Excel, like Data Explorer Preview and Power View, are extended beyond current abilities to offer users the possibility of visualizing huge amounts of data that originate in social networks like Twitter, or sales statistics. It also interacts with chronological data.

Similar to the Bing Apps for Office, which we released back in January, Geoflow is an example of a collaborative effort to utilize knowledge and assets Bing has already assembled for search. Core to the experience are familiar but powerful mapping capabilities that allow users to plot up to a million rows of geographical data from Excel in 3D. To see the power of Big Data on Bing Maps – including how it plots both geographical location and intensity of data via columns, bubble visualizations and heat maps...” Eron Kelly General Manager SQL Server said in a recent blog post about it.

There is no information as yet as to where Microsoft is going to go with this from here, but it will be pushing it forward over the coming months. In the meantime, check out the video below to see GeoFlow in operation.