Big Data Doesn’t Have to Mean Big Spreadsheets

Carol Yeaman-Sanchez - 21 June, 2018

The buzz around big data continues to grow as more and more companies implement massive data collection strategies. And while the term ‘big data’ isn’t new, confusion about what it is, and how to effectively manage it, is still prevalent.

Business decision makers need to be able to explore data independently of IT, even if they’re working with big or disparate data sources. At xOverTime, we see users relying on the de facto standard, Microsoft Excel®, for management and analysis of big datasets, and while you may think big data equals big spreadsheets, that doesn't have to be the case. However, one thing is clear: every enterprise needs to understand their big data and the potential of their data-driven decisions.

Learn how a large electric utility used xOverTime for complete air emissions data management.

Big data repositories are those which – with increasing volume, variety and velocity of data – can’t be effectively managed with traditional databases. Most definitions of ‘big data’ include what’s commonly known as “three V’s” of big data:

  • Volume: High in terms of data points – ranges from terabytes to petabytes of data – as well as dimensionality. At xOverTime, we’re managing massive volumes of data from spreadsheets in our cloud database, all while maintaining strict version controls.
  • Variety: Includes data from a wide range of sources and formats, with the ability for data shape and meaning to change over time. xOverTime manages variability by pulling together data from multiple spreadsheets, and virtually any other data source, including publicly available sources such as weather, census, and EPA data.
  • Velocity: Data arrives at a very high rate and needs to be collected, stored, processed, and analyzed within relatively short windows. xOverTime’s powerful xQuery capabilities allows for dynamic querying and filtering data on the fly.

As data volume, variety, and velocity increase, so should an organization's ability to make use of it. Just as there are many definitions of ‘big data’, there are many tools claiming to help businesses manage it. The Excel Team noted in a blog post:

The sweet spot for Excel in the big data scenario categories is exploratory/ad hoc analysis. Here, business analysts want to use their favorite analysis tool against new data stores to get unprecedented richness of insight. They expect the tools to go beyond embracing the “volume, velocity and variety” aspects of big data by also allowing them to ask new types of questions they weren’t able to ask earlier: including more predictive and prescriptive experiences and the ability to include more unstructured data (like social feeds) as first-class input into their analytic workflow.

The xOverTime cloud-based SaaS solution empowers users to leverage Excel and powerful database capabilities to store massive datasets, which will not only reduce spreadsheet sizes, but ultimately supports better governance, analysis, and reporting. Results and forecasts can also be stored for reporting and future reconciliation with operations  data. xOverTime Rest APIs support seamless application integration with powerful cloud-based analytics, while still allowing Excel to be used for reporting and data interrogation.

Furthermore, xOverTime enables business users to manage team conversations and dialog linked directly to data elements of interest. This unclogs email inboxes by eliminating streams of threaded discussions on issues and nuances discovered in the data. All conversation at the data-element level is seamlessly integrated, making data management, sharing and collaboration functions available inside of Excel.

If you’re searching for a better way to manage your big data, and gain actionable business insights, reach out and see how xOverTime’s technology and services can help.

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