Read on to learn how a GPU Spreadsheet can allow business users to harness the power of big data without needing to retrain in a coding language.
There was a time when the words “big data” conjured up images of supercomputers performing complex simulations at large multinational banks. And while that is still an aspect of big data, the reality is that big data has percolated to virtually every size and class of business. With the proliferation of IoT to mobile, data has grown so quickly that it’s estimated that 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years.
Businesses sense this growth and often want to scale their data capabilities. In fact, 71% of companies state they’d like to increase their data literacy skills. However, the problem is that while data itself has exploded exponentially in size, the tools and processes used to handle big data have not. It’s estimated that 63% of companies still can’t gather effective insight from big data—with the number one issue being IT budget constraints. Other top reasons include integration challenges and a lack of technical staff— all speaking to the lag between big data needs and easy big data solutions.
Thankfully, the software market appears to be finally catching on, and companies are developing more accessible and scalable solutions that allow business users to harness the power of big data without needing to retrain in a coding language. One solution of particular interest is a “GPU Spreadsheet,” which allows businesses to maintain the existing UI of Excel with up to 1000x the speed and scale.
We take an in-depth look below.
What Is A GPU Spreadsheet?
A GPU spreadsheet, as the name implies, is a spreadsheet that uses your GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) to increase the speed and scale of your spreadsheet calculations by an exponential magnitude. To give a frame of reference, while Microsoft Excel has a row limit of 1 million, GPU spreadsheets have been known to handle up to 1 billion rows—often performing calculations at 100x the speeds of legacy software.
The reason this works is due to the architecture of a GPU itself. Initially designed for video game graphics and 3D animation, GPUs have a highly “parallelized” architecture. This means multiple cores perform nearly identical calculations simultaneously from one common set of instructions. An easy context to imagine is a 3D environment where each pixel needs to be mapped in real-time to render immersive graphics, with all the rendering instructions coming from one program.
What GPU spreadsheets do is take the hyper-fast, parallelized calculation power of GPU and apply it to mathematical calculations in a spreadsheet. Known as ‘GPU Compute,’ this functionality allows for the quick ability to, for example, search through a customer database with 30,000 rows and find purchases in a specific location.
While a traditional spreadsheet might take up to a minute to do this (or worse, crash altogether), a GPU spreadsheet can do this in under a second.
Benefits of A GPU Spreadsheet
While a couple of methods have emerged to handle large datasets, the main benefit of GPU spreadsheets is their ease of implementation. There is no need to learn a new data science language or have a 3-month onboarding process as some software like Tableau requires. And because of Microsoft Excel’s dominance in the business world, virtually every company has analysts proficient in spreadsheet functionality.
With 40% of U.S. businesses citing implementation challenges as a barrier to operationalizing big data, a seamless and familiar UI is critical for reducing the time and strain of integrating a big data workflow.
The other big benefit of GPU spreadsheets is the easy transition to visualizations. Since the inception of the personal computer, spreadsheets have been part and parcel with essential business graphics like pie charts, bar charts, and line charts. Even in advanced workflows where data scientists are using SQL or Python scripts to query their data, that data is ultimately ported back to Excel to turn it into readily displayed data visualization.
GPU spreadsheets offer the data visualization functionality of spreadsheet software rather than just a means to see the numbers in a chart. Because, after all, the goal of big data manipulation is to have actionable insight that you can present to other relevant business counterparts.
How Does Big Data Benefit Business?
The short answer to this is virtually everything. From real-time monitoring of inventory to workflow automation to marketing, “big data” is just a term to describe quantifying all variables that go into running an effective business. We list a couple of key examples below:
- Customer Acquisition. A study by McKinsey found that “intensive users of customer analytics” were 23 times more likely to outperform their competitors in acquiring new users. This is often the domain of digital marketers.
- Better Business Intelligence. The Business Application Research Center (BARC) listed better strategic decisions (69%) and improved control of operational processes (54%) as the two largest benefits to big data use cases. Better Business Intelligence is often the first thing that comes to mind when companies discuss the need for big data.
- Customer Retention. A study by Aberdeen Group’s Data-Driven Retail study showed that “data-driven retailers enjoy a greater annual increase in brand awareness by 2.7 times”. McKinsey found intensive users of consumer analytics had a customer retention rate 6.5x higher than those who were low-frequency users of analytics.
Don’t Miss Out On Big Data
No matter the business sector or company size, there is always a benefit to having more data. It’s the fabric of better business intelligence, which itself is the driver to higher profit and better efficiency. GPU spreadsheets are an excellent emerging tool for businesses that want to scale existing workflows without needing to retrain or hire new employees. If you feel your business is one of the millions wanting to access insights from big data but concerned about the cost or difficulty in upgrading your systems or retraining your personnel, GPU spreadsheets could be a solution well optimized to your needs.
Whatever the tool you choose, no doubt harnessing the power of big data will help your business. Find what works best for your business, and take advantage of the information available.