Data Reporting: Spreadsheets vs. Visualisation Tools

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Discover the advantages of using advanced visualisation tools like Looker Studio, Power BI and Tableau for your data reporting. They have quickly surpassed traditional spreadsheets providing more streamlined data integration and visualisation options

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When it comes to data storage and analysis, spreadsheets like Excel and Google Sheets are unmatched in their simplicity and accessibility. However, when the focus shifts to data reporting and visualisation, dedicated tools such as Looker Studio, Power BI, and Tableau significantly outshine traditional spreadsheets. In this blog post, we’ll explore the advantages of using visualisation tools over spreadsheets for data reporting and visualisation.

Purpose-Built for Professional and Functional Dashboards

Visualisation tools like Looker Studio, Power BI, and Tableau are specifically designed for creating sophisticated and functional dashboards. Unlike spreadsheets, which can require extensive manual setup to create even basic charts, these tools offer a range of pre-built templates and intuitive interfaces. This allows users to quickly assemble professional looking dashboards that can be easily shared and interpreted by stakeholders.

  • Seamless Integration and Automation: These tools can directly connect to a variety of data sources, automate data refreshes, and ensure that your reports are always up-to-date without manual intervention.
  • Advanced Formatting Options: With visualisation tools, you can customise almost every aspect of your reports, from chart types and colour schemes to interactive elements like filters and drill-down capabilities.

Seamless Integration with Other Platforms

A major strength of visualisation tools is their ability to integrate seamlessly with a wide range of other platforms. Allowing a central place for reporting across the major platforms that your business utilises. For example, Looker Studio excels in this area, allowing almost all major platforms to be integrated in one way or another:

  • Any Google platform such as Google Sheets, Google Analytics and Google Ads can be seamlessly integrated allowing all data to be visualised in ways that may not be possible in the platfroms themselves
  • Any non-google platforms (Eg. Shopify, Meta Ads, LinkedIn) can be connected via a 3rd party connector. Certain platforms have built their own direct connectors to Looker Studio where for some a connector such as Supermetrics or Funnel.io will be needed

Abundance of Visualisation Options

One of the most significant advantages of using visualisation tools is their extensive library of visualisation options

  • Diverse Visualisation Options: Looker Studio, Power BI, and Tableau offer a variety of chart types, including bar charts, scatter plots, heat maps, and more. These tools can handle complex data sets and present them in a way that is visually appealing and easy to interpret.
  • Interactive Elements: Features such as hover-over tooltips, clickable elements, and drill-down capabilities allow users to explore the data in depth without cluttering the main visualisation.

Reducing Errors and Enhancing Reliability

Spreadsheets are more prone to errors, particularly when complex formulas and pivot tables are involved. A simple mistake in formula entry, such as an incorrect cell reference or a misplaced operator, can propagate errors across an entire dataset, leading to potentially misleading conclusions. Moreover, as spreadsheets grow in complexity and size, tracking down these errors becomes increasingly challenging.

Visualisation tools mitigate these risks by handling data manipulation in the background, leading to more reliable and error-free reporting.

  • Automated Data Processing: These tools automate many of the data manipulation tasks that would otherwise be performed manually in spreadsheets, reducing the likelihood of human error.
  • Validation and Governance: Visualization platforms often include data validation and governance features that ensure data integrity and consistency across reports.

Scalability of Reporting Solutions

As organisations grow, the need for scalable reporting solutions becomes critical. Visualization tools are inherently more scalable than traditional spreadsheets.

  • Handling Large Data Sets: Visualisation tools are built to handle large volumes of data efficiently, which can be a significant challenge for spreadsheets.
  • Collaboration and Sharing: These platforms offer robust collaboration features, allowing multiple users to work on reports simultaneously and share insights effortlessly. This is particularly beneficial for large teams or organizations with distributed workforces.

Conclusion

While spreadsheets are excellent for storing and performing data analysis, they can fall short when it comes to advanced data visualisation and reporting. Visualisation tools like Looker Studio, Power BI, and Tableau are purpose-built for these tasks, offering more professional and functional dashboards, easier filtering, more complex yet understandable visualisations, and a reduction in errors. Moreover, these tools are scalable, making them suitable for organisations of all sizes. By adopting these visualisation platforms, businesses can gain deeper insights, make more informed decisions, and present their data in a more compelling

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