As you may have noticed lately we have put up a Showcase page for excel reporting. This is in part to highlight the functionality added into 5.0 as well as focus a bit of attention onto what has traditionally been a complex issue for BI vendors.
The traditional take on excel is that it was the enemy of a BI product. Spreadsheets where there to be purged from the organization and replaced with a wonderful new fangled BI solution. At Yellowfin were probably guilty of this thinking ourselves – so why the change?
The turning point came with the realization that excel spreadsheets act as mini-databases. Basically up to 30% of reporting data is accessed and managed via spreadsheets. This data is not stored in an ERP system or sales database. Its is sourced from your google analytics, external consultants and the like. So if they are a mini database what does this mean from a BI vendors perspective – incorporate them with all other data sources – that’s what it means!
What we realized was that what was missing was the ability for business users to merge this external data with internal data (sales data etc). They had to go to IT and beg for their data to be loaded. Well they quickly learn that a spreadsheet is not IT’s #1 priority. So this forced business users to extract data from their ERP and merge it with spreadsheet rather than the other way around.
What was needed was a simple way to take your external data and mesh it with your internal data. Bam! That was the idea for the incorporation of spreadsheets into the Yellowfin platform. So Yellowfin keeps the spreadsheet metaphor for the user but loads the data into a database table all in the background. The great thing about this approach is that now the spreadsheet data is:
1. Easy to share
2. Can be merged with other data easily
3. Updatable – append new data with little fuss
We are pretty happy with the results, and pretty sure our users are too.
Find out more:
Excel and spreadsheet reporting
Excel and spreadsheets and part of a Business Intelligence solution white paper