/ Should companies stick with Excel as their primary business intelligence tool?

Should companies stick with Excel as their primary business intelligence tool?

Businesses lean on data to drive key decisions across all aspects of their operations. To make these decisions, they need a business intelligence (BI) tool that can give them an accurate, up-to-date view of their data.

Microsoft Excel has been the go-to BI tool for many businesses for years because it’s easy to use and familiar to most employees. But as data sets have become larger and more complex, Excel has struggled to keep up.

Newer BI tools are designed to handle large and complex data sets, and they offer a host of features that go beyond what Excel can do. So why are so many businesses still using Excel as their primary BI tool?

 

 

What is business intelligence?

Business intelligence (BI) is the process of turning data into insights that businesses can use to make better decisions. From customer data to financial data, businesses rely on BI to understand what is happening within their organization and make decisions that will help them grow.

Excel has been the leading BI tool for many businesses for years because it’s fairly simple and easy to use. Excel users can create pivot tables and charts to visualize data, and they can use formulas to calculate key metrics. But as data sets have become larger and more complex, Excel’s capabilities are simply not enough.

 

What are the downfalls of using Excel as a BI tool?

While Excel offers many features that companies need to handle their data, there are downfalls to using Excel as a BI tool.

Excel is not designed to handle large data sets: If you try to load a large data set into Excel, you will likely run into performance issues as the system tries to process all of the data.

Excel is not a secure platform: Because Excel is a desktop application, it is not as secure as a cloud-based BI tool. If you store sensitive data in Excel, it is more vulnerable to security breaches.

Excel is not always accurate: One of the biggest challenges with Excel is that it is not always accurate. Data can be entered incorrectly, formulas can be applied incorrectly, and charts can be misinterpreted. This can lead to inaccurate decision-making.

Excel lacks collaboration features: While users can engage with one another within the same Excel workbook, the platform lacks true collaboration features. This can make it difficult for teams to work together on data-driven projects.

 

Why do companies stick with Excel for business intelligence?

Despite these drawbacks, companies still stick with Excel for their business intelligence needs for a few reasons:

Familiarity. For many companies, Excel is the only BI tool they have ever used. Employees are familiar with the interface and the features, so they are resistant to change. The adoption process for a new BI tool can be daunting, so companies stick with what they know.

Cost. Excel is generally a free application, while most BI tools come with a subscription fee. For small businesses or businesses with limited budgets, the cost of a BI tool can be prohibitive.

Ease of use. Excel is an easy-to-use program that has existed for years, so users are comfortable with the interface and the features. Newer BI tools can be complex and difficult to use, so companies stick with Excel because it is familiar.

Uncertainty. For companies that are unsure about whether or not they need a BI tool, Excel is a good starting point. It’s easy to use and familiar, so companies can dip their toe in the water without making a major investment.

 

What are BI tools?

As an answer to many of today’s business intelligence needs, new business intelligence tools have been designed to address the shortcomings of Excel. These tools are typically cloud-based and offer a host of features that go beyond what Excel can do.

BI tools offer a variety of features and capabilities that stand out against Excel, including:

The ability to handle large data sets: BI tools are designed to handle large and complex data sets, so you won’t have to worry about performance issues.

Enhanced security: BI tools are more secure than Excel because they are typically cloud-based. This means that your data is stored in a secure database and is less vulnerable to security breaches.

Accuracy: BI tools can help to ensure accuracy by incorporating features like data cleansing and data validation. This can help reduce errors and improve decision-making.

Collaboration: BI tools offer built-in collaboration features that make it easy for teams to work together on data-driven projects. While Excel does allow for some collaboration, the features are not as robust.

Dashboards and visualizations: BI tools offer a variety of visualization options that can help you to better understand your data. Dashboards and reports can be customized to meet your specific needs.

Scalability: BI tools are designed to grow with your business. As your data needs change, you can scale up or down as needed. This is difficult to do with Excel.

Customizability: BI tools offer a variety of customization options that allow you to tailor the tool to your specific needs. This includes things like user permissions, data connectivity, and data analysis.

These features and capabilities offer a major advantage over Excel for business intelligence. If you’re looking for a more robust and feature-rich BI tool, then you should consider one of the many options available on the market today.

 
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What to look for in a BI tool

When you’re looking for a BI tool, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Ease of use

One of the most important aspects of any software is how easy it is to use. You don’t want a tool that is so complex that it takes weeks or months to learn. Look for a tool that is intuitive and easy to use.

A BI tool that offers a free trial or a demo is a good option because it will allow you to test out the tool before you commit to a purchase. This will help you to determine if the tool is a good fit for your needs.

2. Pricing

Pricing is always an important consideration when you’re looking for any type of software. BI tools can be expensive, so you’ll want to make sure that the tool you choose is within your budget.

Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare prices. You may find that there is a wide range of prices for BI tools, so you’ll want to find the option that fits your needs and budget.

3. Support

When you’re looking for any type of software, it’s important to find a vendor that offers good support. This is especially true for BI tools because they can be complex.

Look for a vendor that offers 24/7 support so you can get help when you need it. You should also look for a vendor that offers training and tutorials. This will help you to get the most out of your BI tool.

4. Integration

Another important consideration is integration. You’ll want to make sure that the BI tool you choose can be integrated with the other software you use. This will help to ensure a smooth and seamless workflow.

5. Functionality

Finally, you’ll want to consider the functionality of the BI tool. This includes things like dashboards, reports, and visualizations. Make sure that the tool you choose offers the features and functionality you need.

These are just a few of the things you should keep in mind when you’re looking for a BI tool. By considering these factors, you can be sure to find the right tool for your needs.

 

The bottom line

While Excel has held the mantle as a leading BI tool for many years, it is no longer the only option available.

Newer BI tools offer a variety of advantages over Excel, including ease of use, collaboration, scalability, and customizability. If you’re looking for a more robust BI tool, then you should consider one of the many options available on the market today.

When you have greater control over your data, you can make better decisions for your business.

Business intelligence tools can help you achieve this by providing you with the insights you need to make informed decisions. If you’re using Excel as your primary BI tool, then you may be missing out on the benefits that these tools can offer.

Check out some related resources:

Embracing the future of data with augmented BI

How ESPN used Domo’s intelligent apps to increase customer satisfaction

Nucleus Research: Domo’s ROI as a Data Platform

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