For a huge number of businesses ranging from one-person startups to multinational corporations, word is bond in the spreadsheet universe. But what happens when human error comes into play?
In 2010, the economics paper Growth in the Time of Debt was used to justify austerity cuts around the world on the basis of data showing that national debt over 90% of GDP stifled economic growth. But the paper’s Harvard economist authors were wrong: their spreadsheet didn't analyze all the data and, when corrected, the effect disappeared.
Barclays wound up buying 179 Lehman Brothers contracts unintentionally during the GFC when a pair of junior lawyers converted an Excel spreadsheet into a pdf document, accidentally revealing rows that were supposed to be hidden. It’s estimated that the spreadsheet snafu ended up costing the bank millions.
Even British intelligence agency MI5 ended up bugging more than a thousand incorrect phone numbers ending in 000, rather than the correct last three digits, thanks to a spreadsheet formatting error.
If Harvard academics, a multinational bank, and an international intelligence agency can get it so wrong, it goes without saying that multichannel eCommerce businesses should tread carefully when it comes to relying on spreadsheets.
When data integration gets real
Although every business should be wary of the potential for error with spreadsheets, multichannel businesses are especially susceptible simply because the more data sources involved, the higher the likelihood of something going wrong.
Integrating and tracking data across all these moving parts using manual data entry isn’t feasible long-term. The statistics speak for themselves: a third of businesses say that spreadsheet errors have caused poor decision-making. In the words of Warren Buffett, “Beware of geeks bearing formulas.”
Taking it to the next level with cloud data management
It’s the eternal question for business owners: Do I make an investment now in the hopes it will pay off later, or do I retain profit to maintain cash flow?
An integrated cloud data management system is one investment that multichannel businesses should be confident in, because it begins paying dividends almost immediately in the form of cost- and time-savings. Consider the outcomes:
A single, accurate source of data enables better decision-making
Reduced manual labor means time to focus on the bigger picture
Integrated systems provide a platform for growth
Streamlined operations enable a better customer experience and increased customer satisfaction
And that’s just scratching the surface. In our upcoming multichannel business blogs, we’ll dive deeper into how multichannel businesses can equip themselves with the right tools and strategies for sustainable growth and international expansion.
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