Technical Information

The problem – A lot of data, little information

‘Big data’ is a current buzzphrase.  However it is often a misnomer.  Few businesses really do have a lot of data by the standards of modern processors.  However almost every business has more data than it can properly handle.  This is because the data is tied up in databases that require the permission, and the skill, of the IT department to access. Yet almost all managers, forecasters, analysts, and marketers use spreadsheets.  After the word processor the spreadsheet is by far the most important software development for managers in the last half century.   The spreadsheet is the only means managers have of expressing the data they want in the way that they want to see it.  However the spreadsheet has five crippling limitations:

  1. You need to transfer data into your spreadsheets manually (in most cases)
  2. The data in the spreadsheet is trapped in the spreadsheet, so that any changes can only be seen by the possessor of the spreadsheet
  3. The data is unaudited so it is almost impossible to verify whether any figure is trustworthy
  4. The spreadsheet can handle only limited amounts of data
  5. There is limited access to your spreadsheet, both for you when you are not at work, or for your colleagues

Most important of all THE LOGIC AND THE DATA ARE ENTWINED.  Anyone who amends data can also amend the logic

Azquo solves ALL these problems.

1. Create a database specifically designed for easy spreadsheet access

Azquo redefines spreadsheets as windows onto a new form of database

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2. Import and export data using simple commands

Azquo is a way of storing data that is spreadsheet-friendly. It is remarkably simple. The data is ‘atomised’. In the example below, notice that some areas of the spreadsheet can be considered as a ‘data region’, while other areas are ‘headings’ and other cells represent ‘context’:

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Azquo treats the contents of the ‘data region’ to be ‘values’, and the contents of the other regions to be ‘names’, and arranges the data in a database as a large number of individual ‘values’, each attached to a number of ‘names’ For instance

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or, it could be that 100 is the total of many different items, each with a label such as

itemlabel1

and there is a superstructure of sets:

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By superimposing structures on the atomised data, we can simply see many different views of the data.   We need only think of sets and set intersections such as we learnt at school.

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3. Audit the data

We tag every item of data with the name of the person who put it in, when they put it in and where they did so. This information is available on the right-click of the mouse for any item in the data region. If the data shown is calculated from many different data items we give you the option to see them all, and where and when each originated.

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4. Access large quantities of data

All our data is stored in RAM, which means that access is lightning fast.

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It also means that, if we want to access bigger databases, we simply buy a bigger server with more processors, as each cell in our worksheet can be separately calculated.   So far we’ve only tried our spreadsheet with 100 million ‘values’, but that’s already many times what a spreadsheet can handle, and we believe that, without massive expense, we could handle well over ten times that amount of data – and that’s before we start thinking of distributed databases.

5. Easy access from anywhere

Our spreadsheets are online, so that you can access them from anywhere, but you can download spreadsheets, fill them with data, and upload them again – working offline or online is entirely optional.

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..and you can set up permissions to decide which of your colleagues can see your spreadsheets, and which, if any, can alter the data. Only an administrator can change the formulae or structure. AND THERE IS COMPLETE SEPARATION OF THE SPREADSHEET LOGIC FROM THE DATABASE DATA