Spreadsheets are used extensively around the world. As per the latest figures released by Microsoft, there are around 1.2 billion users of Microsoft Office suite of products. Naturally, there is a large user base who are using excel spreadsheets for analysis and reporting. Given the magnitude of the user base, there are still quite a few features where a spreadsheet might not be able to assist in specific type requirement a user may have. Spreadsheets do have limitations when it comes to dealing with a large amount of data and rapid analytics. In this blog, we are going to talk about limitation spreadsheets have and how a more advanced analytics tool can help in filling those gaps.
- One of the most significant limitations of the spreadsheet is that it does not guarantee data integrity. A user who has access to the spreadsheet can easily go ahead and make changes in the record. It is fine if the user is doing an internal analysis however when interacting with your transactional or operational data, data integrity is indisputable.
- Excel spreadsheets do not have inbuilt access control however SharePoint does address this issue. The latest analytics tool like Tableau or Power BI does provide access control via various methods and are easy to deploy.
- Excel spreadsheets lack data validation and hence data quality could be a bottleneck when you are doing your analysis and making plans but not sure about the quality of data.
- When you want to share the analysis done on an excel spreadsheet with your colleague or senior, emails are the preferred mode of sharing. However, since it involves human intervention, it is prone to error and you might end up sending the email to the wrong person who is not supposed to look at the data. Analytics tools like Tableau and Power BI provide an infrastructure that minimized the error when sharing information with others.
- Playing with large spreadsheets that run into 100s of MBs can be unwieldy. A simple look-up formula can halt your progress for a good 20-30 minutes. Advanced BI tools not only allow you to have control over speed and volume but also provides the comfort of hefty calculations on the data.
- Latest BI analytics tools provide off the shelf features of exporting analysis into images, PDF files and other formats where in excel you may have to look for plugins or manually do the process of conversion
- When your Excel spreadsheet is shared across the organization, it tends to have various versions and keeping track of the changes made can be time consuming and non-productive. BI tools provide the ability to maintain version over a period and are easily accessible.
- One can create a set of charts and visualizations on Excel spreadsheets however it still lacks the power of interactivity. Interactivity feature allows you to look at specifics and slice the data within the visualization. Latest breed of BI tools thrives on interactivity and eye-catching visualizations
To summarize Excel spreadsheets have played an important role in our lives since the day when we first started using computers. However, with the tremendous growth of data and processing power, time is ripe that we move to advanced analytics tools that not only allows you to save significant time on the analysis but also provide best in class visualizations. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, it’s never too late to drive your business decisions with the latest analytics tool.
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