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Silent Killers of our time - Burgers and Spreadsheets

A recent Tabb report ‘The Enterprise Spreadsheet: Pushing towards Transparency’ highlights how firms continue to rely on spreadsheets at every level  - serving as the modelling laboratory, negotiation tool, trade capture software, books and records, and as an input into almost every post-trade process.  This is not a new problem, but you would think that the focus on financial control and transparency would have identified that very obvious target - the Stealth Spreadsheet user.

Spreadsheets are incredibly useful and productive tools - they allow busines users to collect, manipulate and share data without the need for long and painful system implementations. But the quick sugar hit of the instantly gratifying grids of neat and organised data are like junk food - ok for an occasional treat, but life-threatening if you have it all day every day.

Convenience comes at a price - the ongoing erosion of data integrity.  The proliferation of individual reports, using unvalidated data, pulled from a variety of sources, you know it's bad - but hey just this once... 

The problem is that over time, more and more key information will live primarily in spreadsheets, not in centralised data stores.  Data managers, CROs, CFOs, they won’t even know this is happening because data integrity is being destroyed unwittingly in a silent stealth attack.

There are cultural and political factors at play as well, with everyone playing up to their panto roles of free-thinking money-makers Vs pedestrian and bureaucratic IT control freakery. 

That mould needs to be broken - there is no business Vs IT, no central Vs local in smart companies - just a dogged determination to do what is right and necessary for the business. Let's not pretend the "business" does not "get" it/IT in 2009 - technology professionals needs to wake up and smell the coffee, and spend more time talking, listening and creating dialogue.

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Gert Raeves
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Gert Raeves

Research Director

Adox Research Limited

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25 Jul 2005

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London

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