Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Spreadsheets


For years now business intelligence experts have been touting the end of the Excel era. But despite its haters, this longstanding data management superstar has become something of an institution. Excel is at the same time a fountain of great reward and a pit of frustration. And as data continues to get “Big” and real-time analysis becomes the norm, we may at last be face to face with Excel’s limitations.

Take it to the limit

Over the years there have been a few heavy hitters working hard to dethrone the spreadsheet giant. And with a little time and some great pricing, they’re probably going to succeed. A recent research study from Ventana Research entitled “Spreadsheet Use In Today’s Enterprise” uncovered some alarming statistics that will have many companies reevaluating what they once believed to be true about their precious Excel data. Brace yourself:

  • 46% of respondents said they frequently find errors in their data… sometimes even in their most important spreadsheets. We’re talking 34% of people admitting they found errors within important business processes.
  • Multiple versions of the “same” spreadsheet was also identified as a problem. Everyone can relate to this one. You have a different version, they’re all slightly different and require a summit of poring over details to create a single, accurate spreadsheet before repeating the process all over again.
  • The above theme appeared again when 81% of respondents said their work involves a lot of merging of data from multiple spreadsheets into one omnipotent document in order to complete an important business process or function. So we have really important data sheets that can’t speak to each other. Not only does this make sense, it is an excellent use of employee time (insert sarcasm here).


The next level

Data-driven culture is here. It’s happening now and won’t stop anytime soon. A study from online spreadsheet proprietor, Tableau, showed a strong link between a company’s “financial performance” and frequency with which they shared that data within their organization. In other words, the more information companies gave to their staff, the more empowered those folks are to contribute to a solid bottom line.

Online spreadsheet alternatives take the painstaking amalgamation of siloed data out of the mix, replacing it with sophisticated applications that connect information sets effortlessly. Not only will data be more accurate, the threshold for analysis will be lower. Formula wizards will indeed continue to lord over us simpletons, but simplified queries mean Bob from admin can get in on the action too.

Let’s see your spreadsheet do that!

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