Ever been through a PowerPoint presentation with impressive charts and tables explaining trends in your company’s operations? Did you start to wonder where is the data that was used to create the charts?
The data (and the chart) probably came from and Excel spreadsheet on someone’s desktop. When the chart has to be reproduced for next month’s presentation, it can only be created by the author because the knowhow required is not recorded in some metrics document or standard operating procedure.
The same can be said about discussions in a 10K or 10Q filing, or a presentation to Wall Street analysts. How can an auditor validate those numbers if he doesn’t have access to the specific spreadsheet? How can a CIO, overseeing a vast business intelligence infrastructure, reproduce the same numbers in case the numbers are challenged?
Excel’s power and ease of use leads to the creation of “mini BI silos” where data from operational systems and even BI reports is further combined, analyzed and reported. The informality of these BI silos causes auditors and CIOs a lot of grief. They cannot put the kabbash on these Excel-based solutions because they aren’t able to provide a better alternative.