BI’s Dirty Secrets – Why Business People are Addicted to Spreadsheets

BI’s Dirty Secrets – Why Business People are Addicted to Spreadsheets by Rick Sherman.

SecretMicrosoft Excel spreadsheets are the top BI tool of choice. That choking sound you hear is vendors and IT people reacting viscerally when they confront this fact. Their responses include:

  • Business people are averse to change; they don’t want to invest time in learning a new tool
  • Business people don’t understand that BI tools such as dashboards are more powerful than spreadsheets; they’re foolish not to use them
  • Spreadsheets are filled with errors
  • Spreadsheets are from hell

IDC estimated that the worldwide spend on business analytics in 2011 was $90 billion. Studies have found that many firms have more than one BI tool in use, and often more than six BI tools. Yet a recent study found that enterprises have been “stuck” at about a 25% adoption rate of BI tools by business people for a few years.

So why have adoption rates flatlined in enterprises that have had these tools for a while? Are the pundits correct in saying that business people are averse to change, lazy or just ignorant of how wonderful BI tools are?

The answers are very different if you put yourself in the business person’s position.

Read Rick’s blog to see what business people think about changing from spreadsheets.

Have you ever heard the saying: If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em?

There have been a number of presentations/papers on going from spreadsheets to XTM topic maps.

I don’t recall any papers that address adding topic map capabilities to spreadsheets. Do you?

Seems to me the question is:

Should topic maps try for a percentage of the 25% slice of the BI pie (against other competing tools) or, try for a percentage of the 75% of the BI pie owed by spreadsheets?

To avoid the dreaded pie chart, I make images of the respective market shares, one three times the size of the other:

BI Market Shares

Question: If you could only have 3% of a market, which market would you pick?*

See, you are on your way to being a topic map maven and a successful entrepreneur.


* Any resemblance to a question on any MBA exam is purely coincidental.

One Response to “BI’s Dirty Secrets – Why Business People are Addicted to Spreadsheets”

  1. […] reading BI’s Dirty Secrets – Why Business People are Addicted to Spreadsheets and the post it points to, I started to wonder if the spreadsheet -> topic maps path was in the […]