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Microsoft unveils table scanning feature to upload data

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Nicholas Fearn

Microsoft Data Excel AppA data entry feature unveiled by Microsoft this week has quickly caught the attention of businesses and professionals in the property sector.

With a new update for the Excel app, users can now take a photo of a printed data table and quickly turn it into a fully editable spreadsheet.

Microsoft said the image recognition functionality “eliminates the need for you to manually enter hardcopy data”. It has begun rolling out the capability to Android users and has plans to bring it to iOS devices soon.

Dan Hughes, CEO of LIQUID Real Estate Innovation, believes that this tech can boost efficiency and productivity in the real estate sector.

He told PlaceTech: “There is lots of talk about some of the more futuristic sounding technologies, but it is essential that alongside these, we get the fundamentals in place as well.

“We need to make sure that we are as efficient and add as much value to customers as possible, and this does not always mean using completely new solutions.

“The use of image recognition to automatically create spreadsheets is a great example of using technology to increase the efficiency of data collection – something that some parts of real estate spend significant amounts of time doing.”

The Excel functionality was announced as part of the monthly Microsoft 365 updates. In February, the tech giant is focusing on features and services that help businesses “manage a complex threat landscape and communicate and collaborate securely”.

Among the announcements was a new Office app for Windows 10, which is available to anyone with a Microsoft account and provides quick access to apps, files and documents.

Microsoft Office Page

Microsoft explained: “Organisations can also take advantage of the ability to integrate third-party apps, enable users to search for documents and people across the organisation, and customize the experience with their own branding.”

In a further attempt to streamline the way people manage tasks and capture data, a new feature for Microsoft To-Do lets users attach files and photos to tasks. The firm said this will “make tasks more actionable with added context”.

“This highly requested feature is now available on all platforms and syncs across your devices, so you can take your new file-attached tasks on the go,” wrote the firm.

On the security side, Microsoft has launched a new managed threat-hunting service that helps users identify and mitigate threats. It’s also now possible to receive security notifications for your personal Microsoft account via firm’s Authenticator app.

“The service provides access to world-class experts who can help you work through tough investigation challenges with the new Ask a Threat Expert button,” explained the firm in a blog post.

Brooke Williams, CEO and founder of property maintenance platform Sorbet said:“This new software could be a game changer for small businesses owners. Many of our clients rely on offline monthly/weekly reports from their teams to run and monitor their agency. This tech will reduce manual data entry and make it easier and quicker to share data across teams and offices.”

Carol Tallon, founder of PropTech Ireland and author of Property Insider books, added: “This is exactly the kind of non-threatening, recognizable tech that traditional agents can embrace for easy, early wins. The benefits are instant and obvious, with zero risk.”

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