/ 9 min read / Data at Work, Business Intelligence

Spreadsheets or Business Intelligence? Time to move on from Microsoft Office to Business Intelligence tools.

by Yahya Apristianto, Evan Tan

Spreadsheets or Business Intelligence? Time to move on from Microsoft Office to Business Intelligence tools.

Please scroll down for a Bahasa Indonesia version of the article.

Data is the fundamental asset for creating information. Daniel Keys Moran, an American computer programmer and science fiction writer once said that you can have data without information, but you can not have information without data. Then, what is your data for? Decision makers rely on data to determine future strategies. As a simple example, before making a purchase transaction at an online store, you will tend to refer to data from other buyers. It can be their testimonials, description of the products, or many others reviews just to kill your sense of doubt before continuing the transaction. This certainly becomes very complex in the organizational environment.

Making information consumable is an important aspect of the decision making process. In an ideal world, somehow, decision makers get reports that are automatically scheduled, dashboards contain beautiful graphics, and many other benefits (hint: This is possible). However, more than 80% of the work occurs behind the scenes, Data Analysts must deal with the reporting infrastructure and various degrees of preparation. They are required to understand the request, so they can adjust the form of presentation, while on the other hand they also have to understand the data structure itself.

For more than 30 years Microsoft Office has been a favorite weapon for almost all practitioners for data processing, whether they realise it or not. As businesses continue to grow fast, the data that has to be processed becomes more numerous, and so does the processing process increase in complexity. Calculations that had only involved hundreds of rows now have to work with millions of rows. Reports that were only a few sheets then morphed into hundreds of sheets. This then becomes a data source concern, that depends upon having a connection to the database with dozens of types of connectors.

Business growth and the new digital era requires you to inevitably turn to the use of more powerful data tools. How many occasions have you fought against a "Not Responding" status on your Microsoft Office worksheet, only to end with anxiousness when your Microsoft Office suddenly forces you to quit? Often this happens as Microsoft Excel is not built to handle such large processes. You are lucky enough if your work gets saved, but the battlefield is strewn with the time and bodies of users that had to repeat the whole process from the beginning.

You don't say! Excal has crashed.
A sight that strikes fear into the hearts of many.

Microsoft Office is a good application for managing information with its various product and features, but there are many challenges that you have to face when using it as the default tool for data analysis. We do not mean to leave you stranded using Microsoft Office for tasks beyonds it abilities. We hereby propose a few simple steps to ensure you do not lose your business from mistakes arising from analyzing company data. The following is a summary of some reasons that it's time to move on from Microsoft Office.

Data Consolidation

The more business data operations grow, the more you are required to be able to handle data from various sources. You have to standardize, consolidate and aggregate the data structure so that it becomes a form of information that can be read and understood for the next process. You can imagine such a challenge when usings say more than five data sources needed to prepare just a single report just that one time. You are not a microbe with the ability to fission yourself into many so as to complete that consolidation process.

Storage Limitation

Well, various types of formulas cannot be separated out when dealing with data. The length of processing certainly depends on how scalable and qualified your computer technology is. You can only process as much data as your computer can manage and hold. Some of you may want to wait out the loading process while brewing a cup of coffee, but who knows if this torturous process will end with the destruction of your hardware?

Data Discovery

Data Discovery is a business user oriented process for detecting patterns and outliers by navigating through the data or applying guided advanced analytics. Data Discovery has to be done when you get new fresh data that you’re unfamiliar with. You will need to visualize and explore the data in various forms. Just imagine if there were hundreds of data points that filled many sheets of an Excel page. Of course this will be a very troublesome effort.

Error in Calculation

Many cases occur because of errors in calculating. From the company’s side, horror stories abound of a cell error that gives a loss amounting to tens of millions. Just try browsing through Google, you will be surprised to find the number of cases of large losses caused by only small errors in calculations and human errors.

Delivery of Insight

As a data practitioner, the report is not just for our consumption. In large companies, a team leader even needs a daily report from the team members, to then make a multilevel report up to a higher position. When presenting data the old school way, you’d have to refresh the report with copy-paste techniques every time a data change occurs. This is very painful because you are also indirectly required to repeat the process from the beginning for every small change. Not to mention if some of your members are not ready with their data inputs, or are not logged in and available at their workstations.

Data Security

It's no surprise that data security issues becomes polemic in the business. Having to frequently download files from various sources, of course, can make your company susceptible to various types of viruses. A weak link in the company, such as an infected workstation, can compromise the whole system. Data in particular, is an especially attractive target for hackers and malicious actors. Being on the receiving end of an attack could result in important data becoming inaccessible, corrupted or compromised. Having this happen with crucial deadlines at work looming is a special kind of torment.

Managerial Reporting

As a person in charge, we will get a sense of pride when the submitted report has a big impact in helping decision makers determine the next business strategy. You will certainly check each stage one by one in compiling various reports, and this becomes more complicated with a growing business in which you have to communicate with others team leads and departments. Working with a system using Microsoft Office, you are basically required to run from one computer to the next. What is more torturous; you have to track that each stage of data inputs from the various team is merged in correctly, one step at a time.

There are many other problems that you’ve had to solve this way, one painstaking step at a time for sure. Pivoting datasets in Excel proves inadequate, in addition you also have limited control to speed up or troubleshoot your queries that Excel is generating behind the scenes. For the sake of reducing complexity, Microsoft Office has limited your ability to meet all the needs of each user in a more flexible data environment. This is why Business Intelligence (BI) tools like Holistics are designed to provide the mobility that allows you to make decisions, identify opportunities and resolve problems quickly and easily. With BI tools you can also ensure data management and security across the company, and ensure that your users do not work with incomplete or outdated information. In this digital age, surely you don't want to enter a gunfight carrying only a knife, it is time to consider moving on to Business Intelligence tools.

Bahasa Indonesia version begins here.

Data adalah pondasi fundamental dalam penyajian informasi. Para pengambil keputusan bertumpu pada data untuk menentukan strategi kedepannya. Sebagai contoh sederhana sebelum melakukan transaksi pembelian di online store, Anda akan cenderung melihat data review dari beberapa pembeli lain untuk membunuh rasa keraguan Anda sebelum melanjutkan transaksi. Hal tersebut tentulah menjadi sangat kompleks di lingkungan organisasi.

Penyajian data dalam bentuk informasi yang mudah dipahami merupakan aspek penting dalam rentetan pengambilan keputusan. Para pengambil keputusan mendapatkan laporan yang terschedule otomatis. Tidak jarang, banyak management level menuntut penyajian dashboard berisi grafik yang cantik. Namun, lebih dari 80% pekerjaan yang berkutik dengan data terjadi di belakang layar, para Data Analyst harus deal dengan infrastruktur dan berbagai jenis level preparation data. Seorang penyaji informasi dituntut untuk memahami permintaan jenis penyajian data, disisi lain dia juga harus memahami struktur data itu sendiri.

Selama lebih dari 30 tahun terakhir Microsoft Office telah menjadi alat favorit hampir semua praktisi dalam hal pengolahan data. Namun bisnis tumbuh sangat cepat, data yang harus diolah menjadi semakin banyak, begitu pula proses pengolahannya menjadi semakin kompleks. Perhitungan yang tadinya hanya melibatkan puluhan ribu baris sekarang berkembang menjadi jutaan baris. Laporan /report yang tadinya hanya beberapa sheet saja kemudian berubah menjadi ratusan sheet. Sumber data yang tadinya hanya berupa csv berubah menjadi koneksi ke database dengan puluhan jenis konektor.

Pertumbuhan bisnis dan era baru menuntut Anda untuk mau tidak mau beralih ke penggunaan media olah data yg lebih mumpuni. Dalam suatu kesempatan Anda tentu pernah bertarung melawan “Not Responding” pada lembar kerja Microsoft Office Anda yang berujung dengan rasa gemas apabila tiba-tiba saja Microsoft Office Anda “Force Closed”. Anda cukup beruntung jika sudah save, namun tidak sedikit yang kesal karena harus mengulang rentetan proses dari awal.

Microsoft Office dengan segala fitur yang dimiliki merupakan aplikasi yang bagus untuk mengatur informasi, tetapi banyak tantangan yang harus Anda hadapi apabila menggunakannya sebagai sumber dan media analisis data. Kami sama sekali tidak bermaksud membuat Anda menyudahi penggunaan Microsoft Office. Kami mengusulkan beberapa langkah sederhana yang dapat Anda ambil untuk memastikan bisnis Anda tidak rugi karena kesalahan yang dibuat ketika menganalisis data perusahaan. Salah satunya adalah penggunaan tool BI dalam operasional data di perusahaan.

You don't say! Excal has crashed.
A sight that strikes fear into the hearts of many.

Berikut ini adalah rangkuman beberapa alasan bahwa sudah saatnya Anda move on dari Microsoft Office.

Data Consolidation

Semakin berkembangnya bisnis data operation, Anda dituntut untuk capable menghandle data dari berbagai macam sumber. Anda harus mendownload dan menyamakan struktur data agar menjadi bentuk informasi yang dapat dibaca serta dipahami untuk next process. Anda dapat membayangkan apabila sumber data berasal dari lebih dari 5 sedangkan waktu Anda mempersiapkan laporan hanya dalam satu waktu. Anda bukanlah mikroba yang harus membelah diri untuk menyelesaikan proses konsolidasi banyak sources.

Limitasi Penyimpanan

Dalam keseharian Anda mengutak-atik data, berbagai macam formula tentu tidak dapat Anda pisahkan. Lamanya pemrosesan tentu saja bergantung pada seberapa mumpuni teknologi komputer yang Anda punya. Anda juga hanya bisa memproses data sebanyak kapasitas memori komputer Anda dapat menyimpan. Ada beberapa dari Anda akan menunggu pekerjaan ini sambil menyeduh kopi, namun siapa sangka proses yang menyiksa ini justru berakhir dengan rusaknya hardware anda?

Data Discovery

Data Discovery is a business user oriented process for detecting patterns and outliers by visually navigating data or applying guided advanced analytics. Data Discovery biasanya dilakukan pada saat Anda mendapatkan data baru dan belum pernah Anda pegang sama sekali sebelumnya. Anda dituntut untuk memvisualisasikan semua data tersebut dalam berbagai macam bentuk. Bayangkan saja apabila ada ratusan data yang memenuhi halaman sheet excel. Tentu saja hal ini akan sangat menyusahkan.

Kesalahan dalam Perhitungan

Banyak kasus terjadi dimana kesalahan kerap kali terjadi dalam melakukan kalkulasi. Dari sisi perusahaan, hal ini memberikan kerugian yang jumlahnya bisa saja mencapai angka milyaran. Anda dapat menelusuri laman Google, Anda akan terkejut mendapati banyak sekali kasus kerugian besar yang disebabkan oleh hanya kesalahan kecil dalam perhitungan.

Delivery of Insight

Sebagai praktisi data, report tidak hanya menjadi konsumsi kita semata. Di dalam perusahaan besar, seorang tim leader bahkan memerlukan daily report dari membernya untuk kemudian membuat report bertingkat ke jabatan yang lebih tinggi. Dalam penyajian data Anda harus merefresh dengan teknik copy-paste setiap waktu terjadi perubahan data. Hal ini sangat menyakitkan karena Anda juga secara tidak langsung dituntut untuk mengulang proses dari awal. Belum lagi apabila beberapa member Anda belum ready atau sedang tidak masuk.

Keamanan Data

Sudah tidak asing bahwa isu keamanan data menjadi polemik dalam bisnis. File-file yang Anda download dari berbagai macam sumber, tentu saja sangat rentan terserang berbagai jenis virus. Biasanya virus akan menyerang file-file pekerjaan dengan mudahnya melakukan enkripsi pada file Anda dan memastikan data penting Anda tidak bisa dibuka lagi. Anda tentu akan sangat tersiksa apabila hal ini terjadi pada saat deadline mengejar Anda.

Managerial Reporting

Sebagai person in charge dalam penyaji informasi, rasa bangga akan kita dapatkan saat report yang kita submit memiliki dampak besar dalam membantu pengambil keputusan menentukan strategi bisnis selanjutnya. Anda tentu akan melakukan pengecekan satu per satu di setiap stage dalam pembuatan berbagai report, hal ini menjadi semakin rumit saat bisnis berkembang dan Anda harus membantu junior anda. Dengan sistem kerja menggunakan Microsoft Office Anda dituntut untuk lari dari komputer satu ke yang lain. Yang lebih menyiksa adalah, Anda harus melakukan tracking satu persatu mengenai perjalanan report yang telah Anda di setiap stage dan setiap person in charge nya.

Tentunya ada banyak sekali permasalahan lain yang harus Anda selesaikan satu persatu, If you just “pivoting datasets” is inadequate, you can not control how often your data gets updated (not real-time), you also have limited control to speed up or troubleshoot your queries. Microsoft Excel membatasi kemampuan Anda dalam memenuhi semua kebutuhan setiap pengguna ke dalam lingkungan yang lebih fleksibel.

Mobilitas BI tools memungkinkan Anda membuat keputusan dan mengidentifikasi peluang dan masalah dengan cepat dan mudah. Dengan alat BI Anda juga dapat memastikan tata kelola data dan keamanan dan memastikan bahwa pengguna Anda tidak bekerja dengan informasi yang tidak lengkap atau ketinggalan zaman. Pastinya Anda tidak ingin berlama-lama berada dalam pertarungan pistol hanya dengan membawa pisau.

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Tang Yee Jie - Senior Data Analyst, Grab

Tang Yee Jie

Senior Data Analyst, Grab