I’m not the only one who thinks that Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are here to stay. (See Microsoft Excel: The King of BI.)
In "Ouch! Get Ready — Spreadsheets Are Here To Stay For Business Intelligence", Forrester analyst Boris Evelson has similar thoughts:
"Spreadsheets — the most widely used business intelligence (BI) tool — are a permanent fixture in enterprises because no other analytical application outperforms them in flexibility, ease of use, and ubiquity. Spreadsheets’ role in BI is no longer limited to simple import/export mechanisms; they now play an integral role in all layers of the BI stack. Yet the lack of controls and security and integrity issues create tremendous challenges. To minimize risks while gaining the inherent BI value of spreadsheets, information and knowledge management professionals must discriminate between the different ways spreadsheets are used. Then, they must help users apply advanced spreadsheet tools and techniques to their daily jobs, while also implementing a tightly controlled (or closely monitored) environment for critical production processes that rely on spreadsheet data. In turn, vendors should take advantage of this market opportunity by introducing tools that will bridge the gap between spreadsheet management and spreadsheet usage in the BI process."
What I really find refreshing about this analysis is that is does not offer a silver bullet solution that your often find in vendor-sponsored white papers. The report states that "Although spreadsheets introduce numerous management issues and risks into the business, both IT and the business must accept that eliminating spreadsheets is not a realistic — or even desirable — option."
All the solution alternatives include people, process and products. Data may not be able to be controlled given the high tech capabilities that are at people’s fingertips BUT it can be managed. If data is to be treated as the corporate asset it is, people have to assume their responsibilities which are supported by corporate processes and enabled by their product infrastructure.
Maybe you feel spreadsheets are from hell or maybe you think they are a godsend (a Mars vs. Venus or IT vs. business perspective) but it does not matter what you think…spreadsheets are here to stay (at least for awhile.)
The complete Forrester report is available here. (free, but registration required)