TeamData Blog

Why Spreadsheets Suck (for Collaboration on Office Data)

Posted on 4 Dec 2015 //    product  partners

The biggest obstacle businesses face in encouraging more efficient and secure management of information among employees is the legacy of awful lifehacks that people have been relying on for years. Perhaps the worst offender is the spreadsheet.

Because spreadsheets can be used for most any kind of data, including super-sensitive company data like financial results, businesses and employees have mistakenly used them to store sensitive data that they were never designed for, like passwords, account credentials, credit card numbers, employee personal information, and WiFi and alarm codes. The spreadsheet is now perhaps the single most-used tool for managing this kind of information.

There are three problems with this:

  1. Spreadsheets weren’t designed to easily protect sensitive information. The advanced encryption and protections used for spreadsheets in the CFO’s office don’t typically make their way out to the rest of the organization. If lost, stolen or accessed by an unauthorized person, as the world saw in the Sony hack, the sensitive information stored in business spreadsheets could put individuals and the whole company at risk.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, this kind of information is almost always needed by more than one person. Spreadsheets do not make it easy or safe for multiple people to share or have access to specific bits of information, even if they’re created and used in the cloud. Office guests need access to the WiFi password, different developers need access to the same password for app store accounts, employees get married and move and need to update their personal information, credit card numbers change all the time, and executives and their assistants need this information to book travel. As a result, spreadsheets are hard to keep updated, and emailing or texting sensitive information is the default as no one wants to share their entire spreadsheet.
  3. Spreadsheets are dumb when it comes to this kind of data. They do not understand what has been entered, so all of their amazing power, formulas and data visualization are basically useless. They don’t even make it easy to search for basic info.

Businesses need a secure and accessible home for sensitive data like this, and spreadsheets have become a common, but inadequate, alternative.

And here’s the self-promotional plug: We have focused on the problem of spreadsheets in introducing our new collaboration tools and specifically the new Personal Cloud for Office, a free app available in the Microsoft Office 365 Store that allows users to access and co-manage their most important data securely within popular Microsoft applications such as Excel, Word, Project and PowerPoint.

Here’s our announcement.

Now ditch those spreadsheets! And please give us your thoughts.