Since it came to market in 1985, Excel has been the runaway go-to solution for personal and business use. It seemed to be able to handle it all, from calculations and schedules to budgets, projects, charting, planning, forecasting, and more. Large businesses have used it to analyze data, calculate and chart performance metrics.
But if your business relies on Excel for data analysis, data visualization, for staying on top of real-time performance metrics, or for sharing insights and KPIs with multiple people or groups, Excel could easily be costing you in significant ways.
Is Excel Enough?
Excel and other spreadsheets are excellent tools for a wide range of business purposes. But as data-driven organizations rely more on insights and metrics to propel informed decision-making and be competitive, Excel and other spreadsheets can’t keep up. Sticking with Excel as your primary data analysis tool may be more costly to your business than you realize. It may be time to look for an Excel alternative. Take a look at how Excel could be costing you:
Data errors can be painfully expensive
According to Business Insider, one in five businesses have suffered financial losses as a result of spreadsheets; spreadsheets like Excel have cost large corporations billions of dollars due to data errors. One Canadian firm reportedly overspent $24 million due to a cut-and-paste error in Excel. JP Morgan Chase wrote an 129-page report explaining how a copy-and-paste error, proliferated across the organization in multiple Excel dashboards, led to a $6 billion loss.
Alongside their data analytics, the company was checking their calculations by cutting and pasting from one spreadsheet to another—and they got one equation wrong. The error resulted in the kind of losses that would sink most other businesses for good.
If big corporations can make those tiny, costly errors, so can everyone else. “Human error” after all, is a thing. How easy is it to skip a line, copy the same data twice, or make a typo? Easy. And if it’s a mistake, how time-costly will it be to track down the error?
Finally, if you can’t trust your data, how comfortable are you with making decisions based on the calculations they generate? How confident will you be in taking the direction that the data points to if you don’t know if the results are accurately defined? That hesitation can easily cost you opportunities you’d otherwise be able to jump on.
Sharing may not be secure
Ease of collaboration has become a valued asset to businesses large and small. And the ability to share data—the metrics, trends, key performance indicators, and other actionable insights—can elevate collaboration. In fact, according to a Censuswide survey of 2,000 employees in the U.S. and U.K., more than 80% of employees want their organizations to share more business performance data with them. And over 50% of respondents reported that having that information motivates them to perform better.
At every level of business, people want to be kept informed and up-to-date about the performance of their campaigns, projects, products, and other efforts that they’re contributing to.
But most old-school methods of sharing data are vulnerable to misfiling, getting lost in email inboxes, or worse, allowing access to those who have no business looking at the data. With spreadsheets, you can easily lose control over who can view your data and how they might use it.
Even where cloud-computing platforms are used, it’s not simple to share Excel spreadsheets among a number of team members. For that reason, real-time metrics and events—some of the most important data to keep a business competitive—can rarely be shared. And if multiple people are collaborating and working on the same spreadsheet, then errors, overwriting, and oversights become very possible. Too, version incompatibility issues can crop up unexpectedly and slow down everyone’s efforts.
Don’t try this at home
Excel makes a long list of useful formulas and functions available to its users. How accurate and how impactful they will serve your reporting needs will completely depend on them being used correctly down to the last detail. But considering the complexity that many calculations require—either to be manually entered or to be programmed through things like cascading formulas and interconnected spreadsheets—it often happens that mistakes are made. Setting up and maintaining formulas to ensure that they result in actionable and meaningful metrics can be quite convoluted and time-consuming. If you are not an expert at math and business economics, opportunities for mistakes and miscalculations abound.
When data matters, what you do with it matters more
As the volume of data available to businesses increases exponentially, ClicData takes data management to a whole new level of clarity, efficiency, and productivity. It’s a platform that allows you to connect practically all of your data into one virtual data warehouse, analyze it with precision and relevance, and create powerful dashboards that you can trust.
Minimize human error
Since the ClicData platform connects easily to your existing data sets, you can minimize the “human error” factor and the huge costs of typos and copy/paste issues. You can leverage the insights that can be gleaned from accessing all of your data and incorporate them into your reports and calculations—with just a couple clicks. Connect data from Google Adwords, QuickBooks, your CRM systems, and yes, Excel files, no matter where they live. Get the big picture like never before.
Never be out of date:
Choose the indicators and metrics that you want to update and refresh automatically and your ClicData dashboards will always display the most current and up-to-date data without any effort by humans. Whenever your data is modified, all of your dashboard charts, gauges, and indicators will self-refresh. That means that you, your team, and your organization will always be kept abreast of the latest figures and results, without even having to think about it.
Cool and user-friendly design: Even your most sober KPIs can look sexy with ClicData’s wide array of charting widgets and dynamic and interactive dashboards. Give users the ability to zoom in, zoom out, filter, drill down, and sort. And you can mix and match. Click on a column in a bar chart while you filter the table next to it. Click on a KPI display and load another dashboard that has more details about that metric. Select a row on a table and filter the entire dashboard. Sound complicated? It’s easy as drag and drop. Now you can keep you and your team informed in practical, easy-to-use ways.
Control permissions, privacy, and security. Manage your user permissions and data security with precision. Control everyone’s access to your data, reports, and dashboards individually or by organizing them into groups. Set parameters by which they can filter data so they see only what you want them to see. Custom settings mean you let people see only the most relevant content for them to work with. You don’t need multiple dashboards to serve different users. Just set up parameters at the administrative level and you’re good to go.
Share and update safely. You can send your dashboard insights safely in the form of PDFs, PowerPoint images, or even live links—a new, safe, innovative way to share fully interactive dashboards. You can even embed your dynamic dashboards into your internal collaboration platform. You can also keep yourself and your team informed by setting up notifications for when milestones are met or when performance deviates from expectations. Easily schedule when or how often you want to send reports to your team or department so that everyone stays informed. You’ll never miss key events again.
Formulas to transform your data with ease. For analysts, ClicData provides tools and modules to streamline the process of installing intricate and complex formulas for your dashboards. With the ease of drag-and-drop, you can select the formulas you want to work with. ClicData analysts are also available to assist in the process.
Access metrics and key indicators from anywhere.
No matter where you are, whenever you want, you can access your dashboards and KPIs on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device with ClicData’s free mobile app. Navigate through your dashboards with ease, find the metrics you seek, review real-time performance metrics, and more. You can still filter, zoom, and drill down to stay on top of exactly what you want. And the data you see is automatically refreshed, according to your specifications, to keep you up-to-date.
Excel may have been a great platform to get your business started, but it may be long overdue for a replacement to fulfill your growing data analytics and dashboard needs. As data-driven organizations continue to gain the competitive edge, ClicData’s data warehouse and dashboarding platform can help you elevate your business performance at all levels of your organization.
Learn more about what ClicData can do for you and your business.