We know what those problems are:

Excel was launched well over 30 years ago, and remains one of the most widely used, most powerful and important software applications of all time. As can be expected with a tool of that age, increasingly severe problems are surfacing that are creating risk and inefficiency in today's businesses.

Complexity of Formula and Data Navigation

A spreadsheet is seldom written with future users clearly in mind, but even if it is, Excel's unstructured format makes it inherently difficult to layout calculations with logic that is easy to follow.
Calculation sediment builds up over years and the important logic becomes obscured in lines of nested formulas, abandoned tabs and long since functioning VBA.
Days, weeks and even months can be dedicated trying to unpick the important functionality of a spreadsheet when something goes wrong. Even worse, mistakes are not spotted at all, and incorrect values can be reported for years as has been seen in many high profile cases with Excel linked to a loss of $2bn, a $400m overvaluation and 10,000 missing seats at the Olympics.

Low Efficiency and High Operational Risk

A major problem in using Excel for analysis is that when source data changes you typically need to go through each step of the data preparation again. This could mean not only copying and pasting data from the source system again, but also adjusting formulas, lengths of columns and tables to ensure the new data fits.
Even worse is if the source data changes format, which can lead to having to move around and reformat large sections of sheets. 
All this consumes a huge amount of non-value adding time and also introduces the risk of an error, the likelihood of which increases with each manual step.

Inability to Collaborate, Control and Test

The ease with which new spreadsheets can be created can be as much a curse as a blessing. Rather than looking to see if functionality already exists somewhere in a business, users will often embark on developing their own solutions. This means effort duplicated and important calculations that can be inconsistent dependent on the user.

An analogue of this problem is when a single, important, spreadsheet is shared across a business and a mistake is accidently introduced at some point. This then continues to propagate across all subsequent users. Even if the problem is then spotted, there is no native capability in Excel to find all instances of that mistake and fix it.

Performance with Large Data Sets

Even though Microsoft significantly upgraded the number of rows that Excel could handle with the release of Excel 2007, the performance of the application can still suffer when complex calculations are applied on relativley small volumes of data.
To compound that problem, there is little to no guidance or on how to optimise formulas to improve performance or even where particular issues exist within a sheet.

Schematiq provides tools to both pinpoint exaclty where the performance issues arise, and also provides hints and tips as spreasheets are being written to avoid the problems occurring in the first place.

We also know what Excel's strengths are:

Excel is in everyone's comfort zone for a reason, it is the tool they want to use. It's extremely flexible and in general people trust it. That means that many organisations completely rely on Excel spreadsheets and they remain critical tools in business and an integral part of the information and decision-making framework.

Flexibility

Excel has become so commonplace because it can be adapted to address pretty much any analytical, reporting or data management problem that you can throw at it. With its insitinctive interface this can also be done without knowledge of formal coding.

Availability and Familiarity

That Excel has been popular for so long makes for a self-fulfilling cycle.  People are familiar and comfortable with it, and know if the share something in Excel, the chances are the recipient will be too.

Low risk solution for new functionality

Whether a one-person accountancy or multinational oil company, before investing in a dedicated enterprise solution, or starting a bespoke system development, likely as not is that the functionality is prototyped in Excel. Excel delivers new functionality quickly and powerfully. The problem is, sometimes this is where the process stops and the Excel version stays around for far longer than intended.

Transparency of Calculations

Something not always highlighted as a driver of Excel's success is that there is always traceability and visibility of every step of a calculation.
Users can see and like the instant cause and effect when numbers change in a spreadsheet. Indeed, this was one of the principles that made Excel popular in the first place. This is an important principle that with Schematiq always adhere to.

Schematiq provides solutions for Excel's weaknesses and builds on the strengths:

Work faster and better

Work faster and better

Schematiq's server-based computing takes the burden of data calculations, leaving Excel to concentrate on what it does best. Your Excel sessions will run quicker and crash less, helping you to get more done. It's like getting a whole new farm of PCs.

 

Multiple innovations building on Excel principles

Schematiq is completely integrated into everything you do in Excel. There is no need to move in and out of your spreadsheet. The core of Schematiq, the Workbench, is empowered by a series of brand new functions that blend seamlessly into existing workbooks.

Live 'Data-Links' Keep your Analysis and Models up to Date

With Schematiq, data is always pulled from the original source as a live Data-Link so that if the data changes your spreadsheet and analysis will always be updated accordingly. Where your business depends on real-time data in environments such as trading desks, for example, this allows analysis against real-time data as opposed to taking snapshots which are rapidly out of date.
The beauty of the Data-Link, however, lies in the fact that you can load, validate and transform all the data in the link with a single formula in a cell rather than having to copy and paste down entire columns. This really unblocks the data limitations present in Excel and the impact of changes to the size and format of data.

Analysis & Visualisation

Schematiq introduces blending and analysis of multiple, unstructured data sources into Microsoft Excel and provides a workflow environment that allows you to transparently see, step-by-step, the result of each step of the data transformation as you prepare, blend and analyze that data directly within Excel itself.

Schematiq has a number of connectors out of the box including Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Access, Haven OnDemand, Twitter, web pages, and many other file types. Additionally Schematiq can be rapidly extended to other data sources you may have internal to your business.

Once you have performed your analysis - you are then free to use either the built in visualisation tools in Excel or connect to the market-leading data visualisation platforms.

 

Introduce Control

With our Asset Management platform we provide a central repository for all your business-critical spreadsheets. These are version controlled, and users receive update notifications if they are not on the latest one.
So far so good, but where Schematiq really makes a difference is that our Data-Link innovation means that spreadsheets can be broken down into functional building blocks and then shared around your business, where people need specific functionality. 
Build an entire workbook from these functional blocks, and Schematiq will even automatically link them together using our unique auto-wiring feature.

Share via the Web, Mobile or API

Sometimes you may not want to have to share an entire workbook with someone for the sake of sending them a few numbers. This may particularly be the case when sharing with a large audience.
The Schematiq portal allows you to share the output of your spreadsheet with whoever you like, internally or externally to your business via a fully mobile compatible web portal or even through an API.
But wait, we said the strength of Excel was the transparency of calculation - knowing how you got to any number in the sheet? Well, we preserve this even through the web, portal and api interfaces, allowing users to drill-down to the raw data by downloading a spreadsheet with all the calculations in.
Showing every detail keeps you in control

When the truth is buried in the data, you want to drill down to extract and analyse the nugget of knowledge you're looking for. The Schematiq Viewer is a dockable window that shows the detail of every cell, calculation or data structure. You can see the whole solution and every detail at the same time.

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