The 2D data problem

16February 2016
The 2D data problem

Spreadsheets are universally popular and can be used for a wide range of data analyses, delivering relatively complex calculations, forecasts and processing solutions without having to involve the IT department. 

However, they are designed primarily for the analysis of two parameters at a time by a single user and to report in two dimensions using tables, graphs, pie charts, etc.  For example, an intake plan produced by a merchandiser may show projected product volumes across time, while the logistics department may want to plan projected channel volumes over time.

Independently, these are straightforward calculations. The problem arises when you attempt to combine data for a three-dimensional analysis. For example, to convert data from the merchandiser so that it meets the needs of the logistics department. 

Increasingly large and complex spreadsheets can be built to get around this situation to some extent, but they cause additional problems:

  • Combining additional data, usually by ‘cutting and pasting’, has a high risk of errors
  • Reference data is often inconsistent and incompatible
  • There are no validation checks
  • Spreadsheets are emailed to different individuals or departments, creating security risks, lack of version control and lack of workflow management

Info-CTRL solves the problem by storing all of the data in a database, so an analysis can be made using any number of required parameters.

Databases are designed to:

  • Share reference data between users and ensure it is used consistently
  • Automatically consolidate information
  • Only allow properly validated data to be saved
  • Ensure the safety and security of data - version controlled, backed up and secure from inappropriate access
  • Manage workflow and provide information on workflow progress
  • Maintain multi-dimensional data

What makes Info-CTRL extremely clever and different from all other database systems is its Configurator. It takes all of the data that has been uploaded from an individual’s workbook and makes sure this is available to all others who need that piece of information.  It also allows variations in terminology to map to the same place. This means that whether an individual has used the term ‘product ID’,’ SKU’, or ‘product code’ to refer to the same information – the database will recognise it and put it in the right field.

Info-CTRL can translate the spreadsheet data into any appropriate database format, without the need for a proprietary system. It can be used to build sophisticated solutions which combine spreadsheets with a database to overcome the inherent problems, reducing risk, improving accuracy and security. It can be used with or without an ERP system and provides a fast, low-cost solution to revolutionise data usage.

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