Airtable is my absolute favourite data management tool, and if you don't already use it, I think it's something you (and everyone) should know about. So I'm going to tell you all about why I think it's one of the best tools available in the market.
So, what it is?
It's basically a super friendly app that's a combination of the best bits of spreadsheets, and the best bits of databases… and honestly, whatever your business or your need… I think it has the power to totally revolutionize the way you manage your data, which in turn can totally revolutionize a whole lot of other things relating to your work (and/or personal!) life.
It's also super easy to use.
Like most things of this nature, it does take a little while to learn your way around it – and especially, how to get the best out of it – but you don't need any kind of “tech” skills, or even really any kind of expertise at all, to use it. You can simply sign up, start to play around, and you’ll quickly find lots of ways that it can help you better manage and organize so many different, but interlinked, things in your life and/or business. And I’ll bet that before you know it, you'll be as in-love with Airtable as I am.
Why Airtable Is So Good…
Simply put, Airtable will help you manage your data better. And that in turn will lead to better organization, better efficiency, and better clarity.
From a work perspective in particular, data has an almost limitless potential. In fact, did you know that data was recently confirmed as the world's most valuable commodity… surpassing oil?!
But – data that isn't properly organized is effectively useless, which means you may just have a super-rich source of the most valuable commodity on Earth, which you're wasting purely because it's not properly organized.
And this is why I love Airtable. Because it makes managing, organizing, and using your data really easy.
So How Does Airtable Work?
I imagine you already use (or at least have at some point) Excel or Google Sheets.
Well, you can do all the same things with Airtable… plus a whole lot more, and in a far more visually appealing interface – which actually in itself makes it far easier to use.
The basics of Airtable are actually very similar to Excel; it basically all starts with a “spreadsheet”. Here's how Airtable explain their terminology, when compared to a spreadsheet:
And here's a screenshot of an Airtable “table”. Looks a lot nicer, and more useful, than a standard Excel document, right?
So Airtable basically takes a plain spreadsheet, and makes it better: you can (easily and intuitively) colour code your data, you can add tags, photos, “checkboxes”, star ratings, and a whole lot more. And you can easily sort and filter all that information in any way you like, at – literally – a click of a button.
You can also link different records and fields, so your different tables all speak to each other. This is where it starts to act more like a database than just a standard spreadsheet.
This linking means you can easily see, and then “jump to”, other bits of data that are associated with any one particular record. So everything you need to know about one piece of data is all just clearly there, easy to see. For me – this is one of the main things that makes Airtable so brilliant.
You can also add comments to records – and if needed, direct them at a certain person (who will get a notification) – so that all communication related to a specific entry is always right there, linked to that same file. Again, this means there's no risk of anyone missing something important, or not being able to find “that email” you know you had on the topic a while ago, but can't now find. Again… so much more than a standard spreadsheet.
Airtable also allows you to change your view at a click of the button, which is a far more useful feature than you might realize by just reading about it.
Sometimes, seeing things in a spreadsheet-style list is exactly what you need. Other times, it's really not very helpful at all. But thanks to Airtable's amazing functionality, with just one click and you can change all that data into one of many different view options, including a calendar view, a gallery view, a Kanban view, and more. If you go for a paid plan, there's even a Gantt chart view.
And on top of all that functionality? Everything is totally and completely customizable… you can create and save different views that immediately sort and filter information by different fields, such as the person in charge, project name, due date, or financial info. And you can even limit certain views to a select audience.
Collaborating with Airtable
Using Airtable to organize your own data is great. But using it to share and collaborate with others is even better… and for me, this is what makes it such a brilliant data management tool.
These days we're all pretty used to things being online, which makes life so much easier in terms of having permanently up-to-date information.
And Airtable excels at this.
It's entirely on the cloud, so there's no need to download anything. You just need an internet connection, and you can log-in and see the one and only, up-to-date version of all your data.
And when it comes to collaborating, just as with everything else in Airtable, it's easily customizable.
You can invite people to collaborate on your entire workspace, or only on certain bases. And then you can assign them specific level of “permissions”, which defines what they're able to do… e.g. a read-only view, commenting abilities, full editing permissions, or an owner/creator access.
The Best Airtable Use Cases
I'm not kidding when I say that Airtable is suitable for just about anyone and anything needing to manage their data, in whatever form that might take.
I feel that this is well proven by the fact that big-name brands such as Telsa and Time Magazine are known to use it, in addition to the many thousands of individuals using it for personal things such as wedding or holiday planning.
Some of the most popular use cases, however, are a small to medium-sized businesses, who commonly use it for:
- Social media content calendars
- Project management
- Data collection
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Marketing campaign management
- Product launches
- Event planning
- Research tracking
- Finance tracking
(you can connect with Fintable, to automatically link transactions from various bank accounts!)
- Lead generation and engagement tracking
- Team directories
- And so much more…!
Airtable also has a number of super useful built-in integrations that make both usability and collaborating even easier. These include Slack, Dropbox, Gmail, Google Drive, JotForm, and more… and it's also possible to integrate with other software such as Instagram, Mailchimp and Twitter… so you can synchronize with your other apps and automate repetitive tasks.
So as I say, it will be useful for just about anyone and anything. But let's take an example:
Emergency Management Organizations. This may seem an odd choice, but if you know me (and know that this was the focus of my studies) you'll understand it ;)
Emergency response organizations need to be able to respond quickly, and being organized is a vital part of being able to do that. A database is a critical part of most emergency management company's operations, and having a clean, organized, multi-functional, and adaptable database will enable this type of company to be far more efficient, and essentially, far better prepared.
By using Airtable as their data management tool, an emergency response team will quickly be able to find the exact data they need, sorted or filtered to the very specification they require – location, emergency type, etc.
They can also rely on it being a clean, complete, and up-to-date database. And they'll be able to rapidly share specific views and permissions to others – without having to make separate copies – knowing that it will be automatically updated and accurate for every person viewing it.
I've actually started working on an Airtable template specifically for this industry, as the more I work with Airtable, the more convinced I am that it could be a really valuable tool for organizations of this nature.
Why I Always Recommend Airtable
If all of the above hasn't convinced you of how useful Airtable can be, here's a last few things that might sway you…
Cost: their free plan is so generous, individuals and small businesses are unlikely to ever need to pay anything at all.
Templates: getting started is super easy as there are hundreds of templates available, all designed for different specific purposes, that make the initial learning curve so much easier!
Help: Airtable's support center has to be one of the best around, there are SO many articles and videos, explaining the million different things you can do with Airtable.
Easy importing: you can import data from e.g. Trello, Asana, Microsoft… so switching from your old system to a new Airtable one doesn't even require laborious data input!
Basically, Airtable allows you to organize both your data, and the way that it is used, in the easiest and most functional way that I have come across.
It enables you to easily collect, analyze, understand, and share your data, which means you can USE it to its absolute greatest potential.
And because it is such a well-structured data management tool, it genuinely helps you and your data stay organized, which means greater efficiency, and greater clarity.
Airtable has the potential to be a really valuable tool for your business, organization, or personal use.
And if you are ready to sign up for an account, you can use my affiliate link to sign up
If you'd like me to help you get started with it, let me know… Airtable setup is one of my services!