Thursday, July 10, 2008

Spread Marts

spread mart (sprěd märt) noun.
  1. a spreadsheet that is used for data integration
Spread marts solve some problems but introduce others.

In the latest issue of DM Review, there is an article Business Intelligence The Self-Service Way by Shailesh Kosambia from Tata Consultancy Services. It talks briefly about the data issues inhibiting self-service, saying "Business users do not have access to consolidated, unified data..." Shailesh continues, "When a data warehouse does not adequately cover all lines of business, the users have to get data from different sources and consolidate it in one place, leading to several spread marts within the same organization."

Claudia Imhoff discusses ways to solve the issues of "spread marts" in How to "Excel" in Your Business Intelligence Environment:
  1. Being able to "follow the data"
  2. Scheduled data updates
  3. Expiration dates
  4. Securing certain data
  5. Preserving formats, formulas
  6. Link back to live data
Why are people so hung up on using Excel?

Neil Raden of Smart (enough) Systems explains the infatuation with Excel, saying it's because it is "subversive". To paraphrase, spreadsheets allow users to do things behind the back of IT.

What if users could get all the benefits of using Excel (easy to use; data manipulation and combination; no IT needed) without the problems around transparency, latency, authority, and consistency?

To the man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. For another tool, see my previous article on Data Mashup.