When Microsoft released Excel in 1985, the world was quick to accept spreadsheets as the gold standard of data management tools. People embraced spreadsheets with open arms, and why wouldn’t they? Spreadsheets were cheap, easy to use, and they did an Excel-ent job of containing static, plain-text data. Plus, there were no better data management alternatives at the time, and people were desperate for a way to manage their chaos of information into an organized, formulaic grid.
But while lot has changed since 1985, little has changed with spreadsheets. While the world has exploded with technology and automation, spreadsheets have barely evolved from their original static design and have epicly failed to keep up with the rapidly changing needs of our modern, tech-advanced world.
Here are the top 10 reasons why spreadsheets haven’t kept up and why, while inexpensive, they may possibly be the costliest tool your business will ever use.
Top 10 Reasons Why Spreadsheets May Be Your Costliest Business Tool
1. 88% of Spreadsheets Contain Errors. According to MarketWatch, 88% of all spreadsheets and at least 1% of all formula cells contain errors, making spreadsheets extremely error-prone. Just one mistaken, unnoticed keystroke is all it takes to trigger a chain reaction of errors that can go undetected for days but result in gross miscalculations and epic screw ups.
2. No Audit Trail. With that kind of track record for errors, one would imagine that spreadsheets contain some kind of auditing or timestamp functionality to trace errors, or any kind of activity for that matter, back to its source. But, shockingly, when a user makes a change to a spreadsheet, it isn’t time stamped or recorded, leaving no audit trail for data that is deleted or changed in any way. This is a disaster in terms of preventing errors, reacting to errors, maintaining user accountability, and upholding data integrity.
3. Security Issues. One of the advantages of spreadsheets is how quickly and easily they can be attached to an outgoing email, dragged onto a USB file, saved onto a laptop, etc. But this portability factor is also what presents major security concerns for spreadsheets as their easy mobility makes it that much easier for spreadsheets to portal into the wrong hands.
4. Unscalable. As portable as spreadsheets are, however, they’re surprisingly unscalable. With a general size limit of about 25MB, most standard email systems aren’t capable of transferring a spreadsheet file larger than this size. This is shocking, considering that spreadsheet files can easily range from 25-100MB, especially for larger companies or pretty much any growing business. More often than not, companies are forced to divide data among multiple spreadsheets in order to meet email size requirements, unnecessarily increasing data complexity, risk of error, and manual labor.
5. No Permission Controls. Businesses don’t just need a tool to manage their data, they need a way to share the right data with the right people at the right time. When users gain access to a spreadsheet, they gain unlimited access to all its data, including data they weren’t meant to see or that would’ve ideally been exclusive to certain eyes only. If a company wants to keep certain data exclusive to certain users, they (yet again) have to create multiple spreadsheets, creating unnecessary work and even more potential for error.
6. Tricky Remote Access. While the modern business has evolved past the desktop and companies now expect to access their data out-of-office just as well as they can access it in-office, spreadsheets have pretty much stayed in place. As a desktop application, spreadsheets are commonly inaccessible remotely, meaning employees working on-site won’t have access to their data when they need it the most.
7. Limited File Compatibility. As spreadsheets are only capable of managing plain-text data, associated data files, such as images, PDF files, Word Documents, etc., can’t be attached to a spreadsheet file. Their inability to incorporate other highly-essential data types renders spreadsheets extremely inconclusive, once again questioning the integrity of their data.
8. Manual Data Consolidation. Since its original design, spreadsheets can still only be accessed by one user a time. To get updated information from multiple users, a copy of the latest spreadsheet is generally emailed to members of a company so that each user can update the spreadsheet on an individual basis. Any conflicting changes among the spreadsheets must then be manually detected and resolved, with all conflicting data manually consolidated into one master spreadsheet. This frustrating and time-consuming process must then repeat itself again and again, wasting countless hours of manual labor and brainpower.
9. Risky Collaboration. With so much manual data consolidation required, every user that gains access to a spreadsheet becomes a liability rather than an asset. Every time a spreadsheet is shared, the risk for conflicting data, consequential errors, and hours of manual resolution significantly increases. This discourages collaboration and contribution in the workplace, at a time when collaboration has never been easier or more highly regarded as an essential practice of business success.
10. No Automated Workflow. Possibly the most disappointing of all, spreadsheets limit your business data by disabling automated workflow and repetitive tasks. Lacking actionable triggers, such as buttons or links that automatically enable the next work task, spreadsheets limit your data to static, plain-text functions only. At a time when automation is not only possible but expected, spreadsheets completely miss the boat and encourage manual, repetitive work that could have easily been streamlined with alternative data management systems.
The Bottom Line: Everyone’s Online, Except For Spreadsheets
Nowadays it seems like the entire world is online, except for spreadsheets. With extreme limitations regarding automation, collaboration, and data integrity, spreadsheets are no longer sufficient to meet the data management needs of the modern, growing business. And while there used to be no better alternative, it was only a matter of time before a more advanced, “online” data management tool emerged to fill the gap in the form of the online database.
Meet Tadabase, the easy online database builder anyone can use.
Designed with the most powerful database web app functionality on an easy, drag and drop interface, Tadabase empowers everyone to streamline their data online without ever writing a single line of code. With custom automation of all workflows and processes, custom reports and analytics, visual and intuitive data management, and limitless collaboration on one secure, centralized database, Tadabase is the only solution you’ll ever need to run your business from A-Z.
Breaking free of the ancient, plain-text grid that was spreadsheets, Tadabase empowers your data to be dynamic, visual, actionable, and automated. With a growing library of visual and intuitive components, you can display your data with the right viewpoint every time in visual ways that make sense.
Data Visualization For The Win
There is a reason why data visualization is an exploding sector within the IT and data management industry. Studies show that data visualization, the visual representation of data, significantly increases productivity, data processing, quality of work, data analysis, and more. For instance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) uncovered that 90% of the transmitted information is visual to the brain. Taking that data in combination with Kissmetrics findings, it seems that infographics are 30 times more effective than simple text.
Let’s take costs into account as well. Although technically inexpensive, spreadsheets are extremely limited in their scope of data presentation, collaboration, and actionability, as previously discussed above, and can ultimately serve as the costliest inexpensive business tool you’ll ever use. This is in stark difference to the Nucleus Research findings which show that an average ROI of $13.01 for every dollar spent on visualization tools.
Bring Your Data to Life with Tadabase
Don’t just manage your data in sad, flat grids- bring your data to life with Tadabase’s innovative data visualization and automation. Make work colorful, visual, dynamic, and even fun with Tadabase’s easy, no-code, drag and drop platform that empowers you to transform your data into actions and insights without ever writing a single line of code.