“Excel has become obsolete as a data analysis tool and should be replaced with business intelligence.” Tell this to any excel user, and close to 80 to 85% of them would probably show you the door. Not just finance teams, but also the operations, tech development teams have been married to Excel for more than 20 years. They can’t imagine living without their simple and personal analysis tool. And the truth is, Excel is still great at what it does. But then, there’s a lot it simply can’t do.
Why Excel Still Rocks the World of ‘C-Level’ and Decision Makers in an organisation?
Looking closely, love for Excel is not without a reason:
- It’s powerful
- It’s simple
- It’s flexible
- And it’s economical
Moreover, most of the professionals know it like the back of their hand. They rely on it as their daily go-to business tool. It’s scary for them to think of dumping their only known way of acquiring business insights in favor of something they don’t know very well.
Migrating to a business intelligence and analytics platform means large training efforts, which sounds un-affordable. Why fix something when it’s not broken, right?
The Shortcomings of Excel
Sure, Excel can “rock” your entire business, if you conducted business from within a small boundary. But that’s not how businesses work. Excel alone may be okay if you were doing business alone in your niche. Excel is essentially a personal analysis tool and lacks the multi-user support that almost every business analytic solution provides. It looks obsolete in a world that is increasingly being defined in terms of collaboration and information sharing. And that’s not all.
Excel is not effective for collaborative planning and forecasting. It is best at analyzing historical data and is not especially great at doing real time analysis. The data stored in spreadsheets is error prone and insecure—it can go corrupt or get lost, and it does.
Finally: the more you see, the more you know. Over a period of time, the use of Excel in growing organizations creates hundreds or thousands of spreadsheets. Users often need to pull out data from multiple spreadsheets, put it into another spreadsheet, do the formatting and macros and whatever else they need to do with the data before they can produce the reports they need. Some companies also deploy MS Access databases to manage their Excel spreadsheets, but soon end up with hundreds of databases and a maze of data that is impossible to navigate and analyze. Hence:
- It can’t manage large volumes of data
- It can’t provide multi user support
- Sharing and collaboratively working on data is not possible
- Cumbersome, Manually generated and limited views
If excel is so unmanageable, what’s The Reason for Excel to Live On
This reminds me of an incident: There was a little boy who was limping due to his shoe bite. When asked why he doesn’t change the shoe or put it off for some time, he said “I think it doesn’t hurt bad enough.” Does that sound familiar?
Who Wins the Battle?
For most companies beyond a certain size that still rely on Excel as their sole business analytics tool, the pain may become more and more intense as their business churns out more and more spreadsheets, until they realize their peers shifted to analytics software.
Don’t get me wrong. Excel isn’t going anywhere. It will still be valuable as a personal data analysis tool, because people are so used to it. Excel is extremely cost-effective for small businesses that aren’t facing a data outburst.
The matured organisations integrate their ERP data/Excel spreadsheets data, and present it to multiple users through intuitive dashboards. They simply take the pain out of the data collection process, a process that consumes up to a quarter of your time in the office.
Want to learn more? Great! We’d love to show you exactly how a business intelligence solution can help you get more out of your existing data, enable you with actionable insights and help you focus on your core business.
There was a little boy who was limping due to his shoe bite. When asked why he doesn’t change the shoe or put it off for some time, he said “I think it doesn’t hurt bad enough.” Does that sound familiar? Same is the story of many organisations who have learnt how to adjust with the discomfort and instead of thinking progressively, stuck with day to day operational challenges.