Despite all the governance and security issues associated with spreadsheets, they are still one of the most widely used productivity applications in business. But the folks at Accenture say the time has come to sharply reduce that dependency. Today, analytics applications not only provide more business insight than a spreadsheet, they have also become much easier to use.
In an effort to help reduce the usage of spreadsheets, Accenture has acquired i4C Analytics, a provider of an analytics application that can be easily customized by the average business analyst.
Michael Svilar, managing director for Accenture Analytics, a unit of Accenture Digital, says i4C Analytics is part of a larger trend toward the democratization of analytics applications. Svilar says that i4C not only provides predictive analytics that spreadsheet applications don’t provide, it also takes much less time to actually build an application in i4C than it does in a spreadsheet.
The problems with spreadsheets are legendary. Not only are they often hard to decipher, there’s not much transparency into how they were constructed. More often than not, the person building the spreadsheet makes some assumptions about the business that are buried deep inside the macro language used to create the application. Chances are that most people looking at that spreadsheet have no idea what those assumptions are.
On top of that, spreadsheet applications aren’t as secure as other applications and tracking who made changes to what at any given time results in all kinds of governance and compliance challenges.
Of course, providers of business intelligence and analytics applications have been trying to get end users to give up their spreadsheets for years. But businesses are looking for more fact-based insight into their operations, so interest in analytics applications has never been higher. That may not mean that end users are going to be willing to give up their spreadsheets easily. But it does mean that they are more likely to want to deploy an analytics application alongside their spreadsheet.