Survey Reveals Painful Reality for IT

March 1, 2003
Actuate Corporation, the information delivery market leader, recently announced that the results of its recent survey of business end users and IT staff

Actuate Corporation, the information delivery market leader, recently announced that the results of its recent survey of business end users and IT staff are now publicly available. The study revealed pent-up market demand for Web-enabled spreadsheet report creation and distribution products, which runs contrary to the goals of most data warehousing implementation projects undertaken by corporate IT departments. Such projects typically aim to have business users abandon spreadsheets in favor of more centralized data management. Interested parties can now directly download major findings of the survey as a PDF file from

Wayne Eckerson, director of education and research at The Data Warehousing Institute, explains an anxiety commonly held by IT managers: "Spreadsheets make it too easy for groups to define their own metrics and to collect data from different sources at various levels of granularity at different times. Thus, each spreadsheet represents a unique view of the organization, an independent data mart -- or 'spreadmart' if you will -- whose data cannot be reconciled with other spreadmarts."

Yet the Actuate survey recently revealed strong pent-up demand among business users for Web-based report creation solutions leveraging the spreadsheet paradigm. Completed by Indigo Partners, the survey polled 518 respondents who use, develop or maintain numerical reports in companies with more than 500 employees. Among the more startling findings: fully 81 percent of IT managers surveyed admit that their end users continue to dump reports into desktop spreadsheets for easier manipulation.

According to Eckerson, the result of "spreadmarts" is informational chaos and in fighting, where business users end up duplicating efforts and data, hurting productivity and increasing costs. It is the lack of server-side control over data access, data integrity, and report manageability inherent in current spreadsheet creation tools that have made corporate IT departments reluctant to promote their use within the enterprise. However, Actuate's survey revealed that if a spreadsheet reporting solution could provide a centralized managed service, IT could confidently embrace the huge installed base of enterprise Excel users, thereby fulfilling both sides' needs. Spreadsheets could move beyond the realm of a personal productivity tools to become viable corporate reporting engines.

Recently, Actuate introduced the latest version of e.Spreadsheet, the industry's first enterprise report creation solution that enables business users to design Web-based, fully-functional Microsoft Excel reports with virtually no training. At the same time, e.Spreadsheets deployed on the Actuate Server provide IT with a robust server for secure, consistent and repeatable process administration. Organizations are able to maintain a 'single version of the truth' -- a consistent set of metrics to evaluate corporate performance -- while distributing day-to-day report creation capabilities across the enterprise to a new set of users.

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