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Letter Drop

Spreadsheet Creep; Desperately Seeking Standards; Data in the Breach; Consider the Source

Spreadsheet Creep

October 2005 Issue

Cindi Howson's "Flying High With BI" (September 2005) notes that business intelligence (BI) vendors are now providing direct support for Excel—a change from their earlier stance of "Say no to spreadsheets." However, almost all the vendors allow these spreadsheets to connect only to their data warehouses, thus limiting their usefulness.

The trend is much broader than just BI. All business users seem to use their Excel spreadsheets as decision scratchpads, accumulating data from multiple sources including the Web, databases, partners or local ERP systems. This process of getting data in and out must be automated to remove errors. It's time to recognize that most business users use browsers to browse, but use spreadsheets to make decisions.

Vipin Samar
Extensio Software
Cupertino, Calif.

Desperately Seeking Standards

Compliments on Bruce Silver's first Change Agent column ("Dust Off Your Shelfware," September 2005). He's done a terrific job of presenting a complex subject area. This type of analysis should appeal to managers and directors and provoke some thought about the imminent need for standardizing BPM.

Michael JD Sutton
Assistant Professor
Kent State University
Kent, Ohio

Data in the Breach

"Data Law: Misdirected or Misdirection?" debates the need for federal data breach notification law (Dashboard, September 2005). Legislation is a good start, but consumers should be aware that they too can fight spamming, phishing and pharming. Available tools can keep personal information private, giving people the confidence to surf without worrying if they're being tracked, recorded and manipulated. If folks don't trust the Internet, they'll head down to Wal-Mart and pay cash—and then where will e-commerce be?

Jerry D'onofrio
Independent Contractor
Morgan Hill, Calif.

Consider the Source

I'd like to bring some clarity to "The 'Single-View' Bubble Bursts" (Dashboard, August 2005). The story confuses the concepts of "single source of truth" with "single view of truth." These two phrases have very different meanings.

There are many ways to look at the same data. As Doug Henschen points out, the finance view of sales may be different from the marketing view of sales. There are good business reasons for this difference. The key to consistent decision-making is that these two views of truth are delivered from the same source of truth. By using distinguishing terminology such as "billed premium" versus "earned premium" versus "paid premium," we can understand the nuances of different views of truth more easily than if we simply refer to "premium" on a report without qualification.

The single source of truth approach to BI leads to consistent decision-making and lowest-cost-of-ownership deployments by eliminating redundant (and inconsistent) data stores that proliferate in multimart architectures.

Stephen Brobst
Chief Technology Officer
Teradata, a division of NCR
San Diego

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