12 Feb 2019 | Article

Why You Should Replace Excel With BI

Ciara Rafferty
Ciara Rafferty
Why You Should Replace Excel With BI
BI enables you to generate more accurate and timely reports to make impactful business decisions.

Businesses have successfully used Excel to create financial models and generate insights for years. However, as your business’s data grows, Excel goes from being quick and easy to slow and inadequate. The most accurate reports — and most informed business decisions — require the robust functionality of business intelligence (BI). BI platforms such as Looker, Periscope Data and Sisense provide the tools you need to explore, visualize and analyze massive amounts of complex data; generate and share real-time reports; and answer your most pressing business questions. Here are three reasons why your business should make the move from Excel to BI.

1. BI Can Handle the Size of Your Data

You’ve worked with a few hundred — maybe even a few thousand — rows in Excel, but have you ever dealt with hundreds of thousands? A million? It’s as hard to imagine that many rows as it is for Excel to make calculations with them. And if you gather your data from multiple high-volume sources, it is nearly impossible to consolidate in Excel.

BI tools, together with your data warehouse, can handle immense data volumes because they use a collection of servers working in tandem. Large queries are split up among individual servers, with each doing a little bit of the work before aggregating the data and returning it. Thus massive computational jobs can be completed quickly, with near-immediate visualization.

2. With BI, You Can Share Real-Time Results, Rapidly

Excel can take your business’s data, compute figures and results, and generate shareable graphs. However, each report is only accurate up until the time it was created. As time passes, it becomes increasingly outdated. By the time it reaches someone interested in the results, you may no longer be able to confirm its accuracy.

That’s a far cry from the consistently up-to-date reports generated by BI. BI tools create reports by executing queries against your data warehouse. It’s not a one-and-done job, however. As the report is spread throughout the organization using share links, it is constantly updated. The queries are re-executed on live data, giving those viewing the report real-time results and preserving its value long after it is created. Real-time analytics easily becomes a part of the entire organization’s daily workflow. Given the emphasis businesses place on data these days, shouldn’t analytics be embedded in the culture?

3. BI Gives You Control Over Your Data

Data is the lifeblood of your company. Losing control of financial, medical or other data can have immense repercussions, including negative monetary impacts, penalties from regulators, diminished brand reputation, fewer customers, and a drop in stock price.

As soon as you share an Excel document, you have lost all control of it. You have no way of knowing who will get a hold of it — whether it moves between teammates and departments, or gets distributed outside the organization. Let that sink in.

By contrast, data within a BI platform is strictly governed. You control the access to and distribution of your data. With BI, your business has a much greater chance of protecting its most important asset.

Fivetran Enables You to Make the Most of BI

With your data centralized in a warehouse, you can start using BI software to analyze it and build reports. But how can you connect all your data sources, each with its own formatting method, to your warehouse?

This is where Fivetran comes in. We build connectors for every data source, including applications, databases, events and files. The connectors clean and normalize incoming data streams so your warehouse can read them.

Our fully managed, secure pipelines require zero configuration and take no more than five minutes to set up. Once they’re connected, your analysts can use a BI tool to easily execute quick, accurate and up-to-date queries against the data in your warehouse.

Say goodbye to static, inefficient and error-prone spreadsheets and say hello to your modern data stack. To see how Fivetran connects and loads disparate data into a warehouse for effective BI, watch this video.

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