For more time than anyone cares to admit, there has been a debate over getting people to give up their spreadsheets in favor of more robust business intelligence applications. Given the relative adoption of BI applications versus the deep penetration of spreadsheets throughout our business culture, the numbers speak for themselves.
But there are those who would argue that the whole debate is pointless. Many companies use BI applications and spreadsheets in harmony with each other. Others still are embedding BI functionality inside applications that are primarily spreadsheet-driven.
Case in point is Host Analytics, a provider of financial management applications in the cloud. According to Keri Brooke, vice president of marketing for Host Analytics, the company thrived by making a range of financial management applications available via a front-end interface provided by a familiar Excel spreadsheet.
Now Host Analytics this week is adding a BI toolkit to its portfolio of applications. Brooke says that one of the reasons that BI application adoption has been limited is because it was never really tightly coupled with finance applications. By tightly coupling BI to finance applications that are integrated with Excel spreadsheets under a common user interface, Brooke notes that the whole debate about the use spreadsheets versus BI application software essentially becomes moot.
Customers, adds Brooke, can opt to integrate any BI application they choose with Host Analytics. But by directly providing a BI toolkit in the cloud Brooke says the impact of BI software as a tool to drive operational excellence should be more profound.
To one degree or another, the debate over the use of spreadsheets versus BI applications is contrived. Vendors want to promote such arguments as part of marketing strategies designed to increase BI awareness. In reality, most organizations will use any and all tools available to improve the overall performance of the business as long as somebody makes those tools easy to use, affordable and, most importantly, accessible.