Spreadsheet Triple Threat: The Business Risk of Spreadsheets (& What to Do About It)

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Spreadsheets Are a Triple Threat to Security

Your finance team loves spreadsheets. They’re flexible and offer total creative control. They are empowering!

However, they pose a triple security risk to your business.

These risks come in three types:

  1. Errors
  2. Latency
  3. Wasted time

Consider some well-publicized crises caused by spreadsheets:

  • A simple cut-and-paste error in an Excel spreadsheet led to Canadian power generator TransAlta mistakenly buying more US power transmission hedging contracts, and at a higher price, than it should have, costing the company $24 million.
  • E-commerce site RedEnvelope overestimated its gross margins after a single number was entered incorrectly in one cell of a spreadsheet, resulting in its shares losing half their value and its CFO stepping down.
  • When a staffer for the 2012 London Olympics accidentally inserted “20,000” into a spreadsheet cell rather than “10,000”, the Olympic Committee inadvertently sold tickets for 10,000 non-existent seats at four minor synchronized swimming heats. As compensation, those customers were upgraded to tickets for major events, including the 100m final, at a loss to the organizers.
  • When Public Health England used the outdated XLS file format to pull COVID-19 testing results into a central system, data limits were quickly exceeded, resulting in nearly 16,000 coronavirus cases going unreported in England.

These are just a handful of high-profile spreadsheet-based errors that had major ramifications. Errors like these, big and small, propagate unnoticed throughout your organization, sometimes for years.  

The message is clear: spreadsheets are a compound security risk.

Need to keep Excel but ditch the security risk? You need Enterprise Excel. Request your demo.

Why Is This Happening? What’s Wrong With Spreadsheets?

The security risks posed by spreadsheets can be boiled down into three broad themes: 

  • Sensitive financial data passed around in files cannot be secured
  • Data in spreadsheets is instantly stale and cannot be audited or version-controlled
  • Manual reconciliation, maintenance, and reporting are laborious and waste resources

With the average cost of a data breach now standing at close to $4 million, that makes spreadsheets extremely risky business.

Wow! So If Those Problems Exist, Why Are We Still Using Spreadsheets?

That’s a good question.

The simple answer is that there’s NO ALTERNATIVE. Sure, other budgeting and forecasting tools exist, but while they solve the security risks posed by spreadsheets, they create a bunch of new problems.

Specifically, spreadsheets are still in widespread use because:

  • They’re familiar and easy to use, with no requirement for coding expertise (unlike dedicated Business Intelligence tools)
  • They’re instant; no need to fill out a ticket and wait for the data experts to provide an answer (then go back with more questions)
  • They’re flexible and 100% self-service, making it simple for business users to explore problems creatively and exercise their curiosity

Enterprise Excel: Complete freedom, maximum creativity, total security. Request your demo.

Okay, Time for a Change. What’s the Solution?

The most common “solution” – transitioning away from Excel to a dedicated BI or CPM tool – creates just as many problems as it solves.

By taking business users out of Excel, they lose their self-sufficiency, are disempowered, and lose their creative license. What’s more, those technologies are hard to learn, cumbersome to use, and lack many of the features that we take for granted in Excel. And they’re expensive!

So what’s the solution?

What if you could retain all of the benefits of Excel and eliminate the risks — the errors, versioning issues, and manual labor?

ENTERPRISE EXCEL is a self-service subscription app that keeps business users in Excel, fully leveraging their advanced modeling skills, but instead of fighting the limits of desktop spreadsheets, they apply their skills to scalable, EXCEL-FRIENDLY financial models in the cloud.

A vastly scalable spreadsheet experience against a real-time consolidation cube, underpinned by the most powerful Cloud financial consolidation and modeling technology on the planet, Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services.

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not make-believe; we built it.

We call it Enterprise Excel.

Request your free demo today!

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