I have harped on this here before, but once again my blood-pressure is rising because I have seen a simple, efficient use of the powers of Excel marginalized by a client’s inability to get support and cooperation from the “Gate-Keepers” (“Crypt-Keepers” ?) of corporate data stores.
The Gate-Keepers are often corporate DBA’s who are deathly afraid that users might hurt themselves if they actually get the data they need to help them analyze performance and plan their business futures (even though they are already doing it mostly in “crappy”, dangerous, silos of user-designed and maintained spreadsheets already anyway). The rest are the makers of third-party accounting or BI software who’s sole motivation is simply to get total control of the data and the process so the business is forced to keep paying them forever and ever …
By forcing BDMs to flail along with stand-alone spreadsheets without direct or reliable integration with REAL corporate FACTS they are exposing the business to risks that may or may not be large. Regardless, these processes are inefficient at best and frustrating to users and their bosses no end. The efforts to eliminate spreadsheets altogether (which is the unspoken goal of most IT “Professionals” anyway) simply has not and will not work. That is unless they can succeed in moving everyone to the browser-based “calculators” being offered as Excel alternatives by Google and even Microsoft and eliminate the powerful Office Client Excel that has so much power and capability. That would be unconscionably stupid.
In the case that has me worked up today it is data being collected by a 3rd party software provider who takes simple, straightforward collected data and presents it to the user in an awkward, complex and generally useless GUI in a browser that takes otherwise logical and straight-forward data and makes the export of the data to Excel a painful, inefficient, and in the end unusable, process – thus making use of their data outside of their interface (which they will sell the client and reporting module BTW 🙂 ) impossible.
I have run into this in the BI “Universe” as well where at one client we have been trying to get the data we need for a critical business analysis tool in Excel for TWO YEARS to no avail. I have found more and more cases where DBA’s will simply not allow departmental users or developers access to the very data they need to run their businesses while it’s being collected and collected but is being used for absolutely nothing.
To me the efforts made by DBA’s and 3rd Party software developers to prevent the effective import of corporate data into Excel is a major impediment to Corporations. Tragically these Corporations don’t even realize it’s true or how much inefficiency and extra cost they are accepting as normal. BDM’s as a rule defer to the “Professionals” in their IT brain’s trust or worse they are afraid to cross IT (like you might not to complain to the Police for fear of repercusiions). It is truly a tragedy.
We should all remember that it is THE BUSINESS that matters, not the careers of the IT “professionals”. And we are supposed to be working at using technology to make business processes better and more flexible not less. We are servants to the Business not the other way around and whenever that gets forgotten we all lose.