We all use Excel though we know it is bad. It is a user friendly and powerful tool, but there are plenty of stories out there where Excel has caused so much trouble like this one from Computerworld in 2008 when the credit crunch struck.
I guess all people who works in data management curses Excel. Data kept in Excel is a pain – you know where – as it is hard to share, you never know if you have the latest version, nice informative colouring disappears when transforming, narrow columns turns into rubbish, different formatting usually makes it practically impossible to combine two sheets and heaps of other not so nice behaviours.
Even so, Excel is still the most used tool for many crucial data management purposes as for example reported in the post The True Leader in Product MDM.
Excel is still a very frequent used option when it comes to exchanging data as touched by Monica McDonnell of Informatica in a recent blog post on Four Technology Approaches for IDMP Data Management.
Probably, the use of Excel as a mean to exchange data between organizations is the field where it will be most difficult to eliminate the dangerous use of Excel. The problem is that the alternative usually is far too rigid. The task of achieving consensus between many organizations on naming, formatting and all the other tedious stuff makes us turn to Excel.
When working with data quality within data management we may wrongly strive for perfection. We should rather strive for excellence, which is something better than the ordinary. In this case Excel is the ordinary. As Harriet Braiker said: “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”
In order to be excellent, though not perfect, in data sharing, we must develop solutions that are better than Excel without being too rigid. Right now, I am working on a solution for sharing product data being of that kind. The service is called the Product Data Lake.