Reducing spreadsheet inefficiencies in business intelligence and analytics

industry analytics and comprehensive insights

January 11, 2021

Welcome to the first in a series of five blogs looking at how modern analytics can reduce spreadsheet risk and inefficiency. In this first blog, we will examine the impact that spreadsheets have on business intelligence and analytics.

Way back in 2002, Wayne Eckerson, well-known data and analytics industry analyst and President of Eckerson Group, warned of the dangers of using spreadsheets. He said, “Spreadsheets run amuck in most organizations. They proliferate like poisonous vines, slowly strangling organizations by depriving them of a single consistent set of information and metrics to evaluate corporate performance and develop tactical and strategic plans.”

They create a problem in meetings when everybody starts arguing about who has the correct data rather than solving the business challenges they have met up to discuss. More insidious, however, is what happens behind the scenes and outside that meeting. Eckerson goes on in a 2008 TDWI article to point out that when analysts collect and ‘massage’ their own data in spreadsheets, they are also duplicating effort and data, which destroys productivity and raises costs by spending a considerable amount of time manually extracting and transforming data, rather than analyzing it! In turn, these spreadsheets become hundreds or thousands of data silos, already out-of-date, and whose accuracy and providence are completely unknown.

A modern analytics platform can dramatically improve business user productivity by using technology such as machine learning to automate data preparation and analytical tasks and provide self-service access to a single source of the truth through a governed and reusable semantic layer. Productivity is further enhanced by providing a range of ways for business users to interact with data, such as highly-formatted operational reports, dashboards that provide guided navigation, and fast access to the most critical key performance indicators or data discovery to answer the questions that haven’t been asked before.

Finally, Infor Birst offers the business user the option of using Excel as their preferred front-end but with access to a central repository of well-governed data, ensuring every user is looking at the same numbers in real-time.

Read more about retiring spreadsheets from your business intelligence and analytics strategy and four other ways of reducing spreadsheet-created risks and inefficiencies in your organization in our best practice guide today.

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