Spreadsheets have formed the most colossal barrier to the marketing team’s ability to impact revenue and deliver data…
Spreadsheets have formed the most colossal barrier to the marketing team’s ability to deliver data, information and insights in a timely manner because while the demands of the business have advanced, spreadsheets have only made incremental improvements that were not designed to have key business users making significant revenue operations impact decisions from it.
Before we rip spreadsheets too much, let’s at least tip our hats. The allure of having a UI that essentially let’s you do almost anything, at its current cost (yes the cost of spreadsheets are not quite free), empowered many of us to build a mosaic of computations that didn’t require waiting in line for IT. But organizations have advanced, the spreadsheet’s ability to deliver in the new world has not. Obviously this presents a dilemma: many organizations today are working with the same tool that was created almost 30 years ago to make business decisions that have exponentially more data, in more systems with more people involved that wasn’t fathomable even 5 years ago. Here are the problems this creates:
Manual Processes Lead to Low Value Work
It’s true that when you think of manual effort, unfortunately spreadsheets come to mind. There is only so much you can do to automate processes in spreadsheets unless you are a wizard or if you work for Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. While we as marketers are trending more technically, spending time to come up with the optimal math calculation can become paralyzing fast when trying to establish marketing impact. When you consider the need to sync data on a periodic basis, generate true insights or maintain calculations it’s easy to see that all these dependencies create more unnecessary work that prevent you from automation task based items that are less prone to errors.
In the current economy, access to up to the minute information and the ability to make campaign ROI decisions off that data is commonplace and actually table stakes. It’s partly due to how we consume data even in our personal lives. These things have a way of making it into our professional lives. However, with spreadsheets, there lies the problem of interacting with the data and information when you’re not in front of your laptop. This is not the fault of the spreadsheet but again it wasn’t designed to have much interaction or access beyond what was right in front of you. The problem with spreadsheets is that if you’re not actively evaluating the data, the data may as well not be there and organizations are missing open opportunities because of delays in data analysis.
Imagine making a decision based on a decimal or comma in the wrong place. Even evaluations completed 10 years ago saw this as a problem and analysis suggests that mistakes we humans make in spreadsheets can account for trillions of dollars to the economy. Your organization today, literally has data everywhere. It’s in your CRM, marketing automation, sales enablement, data warehouse, e-commerce platform, webinar platform, and it’s common to “export to excel” without really knowing the danger that poses every time. This is where you’ve completed the most benign part but then we sort, filter, format, calculate from all these places and now if it’s not tainted you’re in better shape than most. This tedious process not only takes time but can also cause mistakes that could even lead the company towards taking very costly product or service decisions.
Let’s say you do have the people in your organization that can continue to produce, run, analyze and maintain spreadsheets for periodic marketing reporting. Does that mean they should? The beauty of existing software is the ability to take the millions of rows of data that humans were not built to manage, nor spreadsheets configured to manage well, and be able to scale as the data and organization grows. Conversely, while some organizations are looking for a one size fits all, it’s important to see that specialization is trending but for good reason. The additional data and answers needed cannot be given accurately or understood properly without a solution that goes deep into the marketing department or business function.
We’re not advocating that spreadsheets will never be used again or that they shouldn’t. Although JPMorgan may have a say against that. We as growing professionals do need to realize that progress is inevitable and knowing that spreadsheets have and will cost millions and possibly billions of dollars in mistakes attributed to the aforementioned impediments. Unfortunately, this has become acceptable and the “free” spreadsheet (which is not really free) has a common language. But if that common language has unintended consequences or inherent risks while knowing you actually have an option, let’s not sign ourselves up for culpability. When Vertify’s customers asked how we could help rid them of an age-old technology that just didn’t cut it for today’s business problems, we decided to create RevOptics to truly understand marketing impact. RevOptics was 100% customer driven that re-imagined the revenue operations team’s day to day without the need to depend on spreadsheets. It eliminates all of the problems mentioned before while simultaneously freeing up time to work on higher value things, giving you marketing reporting confidence and creating collaboration harmony between your teammates.