For years, business users have been using Microsoft Excel to analyze and share data. It’s a very flexible tool, but is limited when it comes to protecting the data in your spreadsheets. We routinely hear stories about people sending sensitive information within spreadsheets to the wrong people or tediously copying and pasting data into separate files for different audiences. There are some options on the market for password protecting entire spreadsheets, but we were surprised to find that there really isn’t anything out there that helps protect the data itself.
We’ve been working on a solution to make sharing data easier for business users, and to alleviate some of the security concerns IT departments have with Excel.
No one would dispute the fact that a spreadsheet outlining a company’s sales comp plan by sales rep is a sensitive document, and yet this information may need to be shared among many people in a secure way. Wouldn’t it be great if Excel users could select the parts of their spreadsheets that need protection, determine who gets to see the protected data, and openly share the rest? If that sounds like a pipe dream, it’s not!
Our app will encrypt the data so it can be safely shared as an e-mail attachment or through whatever other means a company uses. When one of the authorized users opens the spreadsheet, our solution will look up their access and decrypt just the rows they’re supposed to see.
We’ll miss the Christmas rush, but we should be ready to unveil our new app in Q1. Initially, the app will be available to download and use for free and later in the year we will introduce a paid enterprise offering that IT can use to centrally monitor and manage security.
What drove the decision for Noetix Engineering to focus on a solution like this right now?
There were a few reasons, really. In 2013, we started down the path of expanding our focus beyond Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS). We started looking not only at data sources beyond EBS, but also at other BI tools, and not just the ones used by the EBS community. Excel made sense because it’s ubiquitous in the enterprise and used to analyze data from a wide array of sources. Microsoft has been improving Excel’s analytical capabilities in recent releases, but hasn’t really tackled data security. Since robust data security has always been an important part of our EBS-centric products in the past, we felt well positioned to fill this gap in Excel.
Growing beyond Oracle E-Business Suite means that we need to engage an entirely new audience, one that probably doesn’t know who Larry Ellison is. Offering simple BI productivity tools available for download on the web is a way to increase our visibility in the BI world while also helping to solve some pretty glaring problems we see business and IT users running into on a daily basis.
Additionally, we want to leverage the cloud. Our new offering for Excel is a cloud app under the covers, which makes deployment and use easier while also enabling users to safely share data outside their firewalls to suppliers and other external partners.
What are your plans for the holiday?
Funny that you mention being a bit like Santa in his workshop. When I’m not in my Noetix “workshop,” I’ve been at the real one I have at home. I’m an amateur woodworker in my spare time, so I’ve been building Christmas gifts for friends and family. Outside of that, I’m planning on taking some time off to spend with my family. We’ll probably go sledding in the mountains over the break. Happy New Year!