/ Still Using Spreadsheets?

Still Using Spreadsheets?

3 Reasons to Change the Way You Manage Your Business and Adopt a Visual Approach

Recent research has shown that decision makers assess business intelligence with tables and text nearly two-thirds of the time, instead of relying on more productive visual analysis. Stop wading through endless spreadsheets and embrace some new and exciting tools available to your business.

Here is what the webinar covers:

  • Why you should be more visual in company reporting
  • More effective ways to manage business reporting
  • The inherent disadvantages that come from spreadsheets


CHRIS: Hi I’m chris Wintermeyer, Senior Solution Architect with Domo Technology. Are you still using spreadsheets to run your business? Most people are. I’d like to spend the next few minutes talking with you about some reasons to change the way you manage your business and adopt a more visual approach.

Spreadsheets and data are everywhere, you know this, I know this, we see it all the time. Things like financial reports, project updates, compliance measures, competitive intelligence coming at us in a variety of formats, whether that’s through web pages or looking at reports on our laptop or our desktop or our global device. And we see this information not just coming at us in visual format, which is fairly rare these days, but much more so in textual format, so we’re looking at columns and tables of numbers that we have to glean information from after scanning through them. And this can be tough.

A recent study found that the average organization has over 50 spreadsheets that they’re using, not just to make decisions but to make business critical decisions. Let’s talk about the state of the market and how we think we can make things better. A study asked companies “What are you using today for business intelligence, how are you making decisions?” Three out of four responded that spreadsheets are a vital component of their business intelligence solution that they’re literally relying on spreadsheets to make business critical decisions that impact both the top and bottom lines of the organization. Not only that, but the same users of those spreadsheets are looking at that information mostly in numbers and text format, in fact two out of three are looking at simple columns, tables and cross tabs of information. And only one in three are looking at information that makes sense to users in a visual format that provides things like charts and graphs, so that they get an ‘at a glance’ snapshot of what’s going on with the business.

So let’s talk about how we can get out of this spreadsheet quagmire and what some of the things are that you should focus on when doing so, and why we think it’s important to you. The first reason is that you’re actually spending more using spreadsheets than you think, and you’re definitely spending more using spreadsheets than you would if you invested in a visual reporting solution.

Here’s an example. If we look at the cost of spreadsheets from a standpoint of a report that needs to be created and distributed to decision makers on a weekly basis. You’ve got data sitting in a variety of systems that you need to aggregate and pull together. So using this spreadsheet I first have to go and get my data from these various sources, whether that’s running sequel queries and then dumping that out through a text file, or using API calls to be able to go in to various transactional systems, or even having to do things like scrape HTML web pages, or cut and paste XML together, and get that all inside of my spreadsheet. Then before I can present it to my decision makers I’ve got to put it in a format that’s consumable, so it needs to be translated and aggregated. Maybe I have to apply formulas, filters and macros to that, and of course I have to check my work; I have to make sure that I’m not doing something to incorrectly calculate the information that I’ve brought together from these various sources. Oh and then of course I’ve got to get it to those decision makers, right? I have to email that or stick that out on a web server or a file share somewhere and then make sure that folks have access to it. Oh, and by the way, this is a weekly report so next Monday I get to do the whole thing all over again.

What if there was a better approach that not only allows users to consume that information in a visual format, in a way that makes sense to them, but without me having to spend all this time going through and building this thing every week? The approach that Domo takes is one that we feel is much more robust and simple than what it takes to put together manual spreadsheet reports. And it’s three basis steps. Defining the key performance indicators, and that means defining the things that are important to me running my business. What is it that I need to monitor and measure so that I can take action to impact both the top and bottom line of the business? Then, where does that data come from to support those KPI’s that are important to me? I define these connections to these various data sources, whether that’s relational data bases, multi-dimensional data bases, I can even use spreadsheets to data source if I want to. Not to mention things like Salesforce.com or Google Analytics or web pages or XML. Those connections only have to be defined once. Once that’s done, I simply decide what format makes sense for my users, what should my charts and my graphs look like and how should they consume them? And once that’s done I simply make this visualization, this dashboard, available to these users. They now have access to that information in real time on whatever device they’d like to use to get the same information all at the click of a button as opposed to me having to go and build, maintain, and distribute this spreadsheet on a regular basis.

So what does that mean to a business who’s actually using a Domo solution as opposed to doing all this stuff the old fashioned way, the manual way, with these spreadsheets? Let’s take a look at a division of a Fortune 50 who before Domo came along was spending about 10 hours a week compiling a 50 page report from a dozen data sources, and of course that information had to be summarized, right? It had to be distilled into information that made sense to the folks consuming it. And then these 20 plus decision makers had to get their hands on a particular spreadsheet that was costing them a lot of money. Through investing in a Domo solution they now have access to a real time dashboard that gives those decision makers visual, instant gratification; they know exactly what it is that they need to make decisions on their business, they can tap or click to drill in, to get more detailed information, and they can do it whenever and wherever they need to get access to that. The best part is that this Fortune 50 saved over $300,000 a year by doing that.

Here’s another example. A very large manufacturing company was trying to get information from the various field offices about their operational efficiency. They wanted to know how are all of these branches doing, they wanted to be able to derive change based on  information that they had received, so that they could maximize the productivity of the various offices and minimize the costs associated with that. But there were a couple of challenges. Not only was time and money involved in aggregating the information from all these various field offices, taking a spreadsheet that was being mailed in from each of those places and having to aggregate that data, but one of the challenges they found was that each of the branch offices wanted to make sure that their information was being presented in the best light. So when they drilled down into the detail they found that some of the numbers were actually being massaged and maybe even rounded up when they weren’t supposed to be. So the field offices could hide or at least minimize some their deficiencies. Now with the real time solution from Domo, not only do they get that real time access to the information from all these various offices without having to manually build and aggregate the data sources into a single spreadsheet, but they’re also getting a single version of the truth, because the information is coming directly from the source system at each of those field offices. So productivity is up more than 5% and over 500 hours a year are being saved compared to the old solution.

What about revenue opportunities? What is it that you’re actually looking at in the spreadsheet? Are you getting access to visual indicators that provide ‘at a glance’ things that help you make better decisions that impact the revenue in your organization? Or are you looking at just simply numbers, columns and rows of data, no easy way to get access to outliers or spot trend. If we look at what it takes to actually capture opportunities, we find that organizations that are quick to adopt new and robust technology typically report that they’re given access to the information they need at the right time, nearly 100% [JD1] of the time. Not surprisingly those same organizations are realizing the most gain from that. They’re seeing on average an increase of over 15% year over year in financial performance compared to folks who are still doing things the old fashioned way in spreadsheets. Basically we’re identifying leaders, those who are taking a visual approach to consuming and delivering information as opposed to laggards, folks who are still relying on manual assembly and distribution of spreadsheets to their users.

Here’s an example and this is a very exciting story, I really like this. This is a retail pharmacy chain in the southeast, the story that I’m about to tell you, that’s now using the Domo solution. Prior to Domo they were actually relying on spreadsheets to get information about the buying habits of their customers for all the products in all the product lines in all their distribution outlets. Having to go through literally hundreds of pages on a monthly basis to look at which products are being purchased, what other products are being purchased with them, what times of day, how does weather impact the purchase of those particular products and then try and use that information to maximize opportunity. Now they’re accessing all of that information through a single dashboard, so at a glance, the folks who are responsible for things like sales, product margins, and product competitiveness are able to see the information they need so that they know which products should be cross advertised with one another to maximize revenue opportunity. They know what their customers are buying, what they’re buying it with and when they’re buying it so that they can maximize things around product placement in store and seasonal placement to maximize the profit margin as well as knock out the competition. That was something that simply wasn’t possible before the Domo solution.

And the third reason that it’s time to move away from spreadsheets and go with a visual solution, is that you don’t always know what you think know when you’re looking at reports from spreadsheets. A recent study by Avanade showed that 56% of business executives are overwhelmed by the amount of data their company manages. And if you’re managing your organization with spreadsheets you can probably identify with them. Surprisingly, even more than that, 62% reported being frequently interrupted by data, but not just by data, it was data that was irrelevant. So information that was coming at them that caused them to stop what they were doing and take a look at that data to see how it impacted the organization, turned out to be information that they didn’t need at all, information they could have done without. So that’s lost productivity, and in some cases, actually making decisions on bad or irrelevant data. With Domo, those are problems of the past. But, as opposed to me talking more about it let me show you a few examples of what it looks like when you visualize the business as opposed to consuming this information in spreadsheets.

In this example here you’ll see that we’re presenting information on the screen in a couple of different ways, both with bar charts as well as line charts, and of course this information is simply summarized but can be drilled upon with a single click, or if I’m on a mobile device a single tap. But if you look towards the top of the dashboard you’ll see that the user has a great deal of control over the type of information that they’re looking at, all with a single click. So I can control things like time frame, which market or segment of the business I’m looking at. I can do searches by simply typing in preferences directly inside of the search box, as well as being able to apply my preferences so that the next time I come into my dashboard, I’m not only looking at the information that I need, but I’m looking at it in a way that makes sense to me. Somebody else consuming the same information might choose to look at it a different way. But let’s think about that for a second. I’ve got twenty different decision makers, all looking at the same information but want to see it differently. Which is better: having a single visual solution where they can choose and then apply their own choices as to how they consume that information, and have those choices remembered regardless of when they come in or what device they use, or would they rather build twenty different versions of a spreadsheet with the same information in it simply because each of the users wants to look at that information in a slightly different way?

Here’s another example. And here I think this shows the power of Domo presenting information in a way that is simple to use as well as to understand. So in addition to being able to select things like my time period or choose what line of business or business segments I want to look at, in this particular case I’m looking at a complete marketing pipeline, so every customer touch from solicitation all the way through booking, every single stage is visually and graphically outlined to me and, at a glance, I can tell if I am up or if I am down for any given stage in my pipeline. Along with that,I have access to historical information, so not just this month but for the past twelve months I can see how am I doing, as well as my overall conversion rate, as well as my bookings. I can even see information geographically. Demo provides mapping capabilities so that I can look at the same information that I was looking at in the spreadsheet in columns and rows, in a variety and format including maps.

Well what happens if I’ve got a large number of users, I mean there are a lot of solutions on the market that will support, five, ten or twenty users, but what happens when you want to spread this power throughout the organization and give all of your business workers, not just the key decision makers, access to the information? Here’s an example of a global financial organization that’s using Domo to power dashboards for all of their retail banking customers. That’s millions of users that have access to the power of Domo. When they log into their web site they can get access to information on what they’re doing as far as banking, where their money is being spent, and they’re even giving the ability to create and manage a budget, as opposed to doing that through simple HTML fields or a simple printed PDF report of columns and rows of numbers. Thanks to the power of Domo, these users have access to this information in a format that’s very easy to consume and very easy to understand.

So we talked a little bit about what it is that Domo does and we talked a little bit about how Domo can help get you out of the quagmire that you’re in with your spreadsheets today. What else can we do to help you? Do you want some more information? Would you like to talk with someone about what you’re doing today as opposed to what you could be doing? How you could be saving time and money and directly impacting the business? Would you like to see a demo? Even if you have pricing questions, give us a call or email us at the information that you see here on the screen. And by the way, I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time today for letting me talk to you about the power of Demo and why we’re better than spreadsheets. Thanks.

Check out some related resources:

Domo + The Cadence Group: Utilizing Domo for Internal Audit

Domo + Grant Thornton: Improve and Streamline Your Tax Processes

Eckerson on Actionable Intelligence

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