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  • Steve Schohn

3 Unexpected Ways People Use Gigasheet

I joined Gigasheet at the start of the year, and in the last few months I’ve spoken to a large cross-section of the Gigasheet user base directly. Few things are more satisfying than hearing how our product is helping people do their job better, easier, and faster; Gigasheet does that every day for thousands across the world.


Unexpected uses for big data spreadsheets


We at Gigasheet want to make big data analysis as simple as using a spreadsheet: you shouldn’t need an IT, data science, or engineering effort to analyze a dataset just because it’s big. And by far, that’s the most common thing I hear from users. They want to open a large spreadsheet file, which is too big for Excel or Google Sheets, and they want to analyze it. But diving in a little deeper, I’ve heard a number of interesting use cases that I want to bucket into three main categories:


1. Table Saws vs Swiss Army Knives


One user made this analogy, and since we here are huge fans of Steve Ramsey, it resonated. The user had access to an enterprise data platform, which he likened to a table saw in a wood shop. It’s the strongest beast in the center that can do the most impressive things. It’s also heavy, and immobile, and requires a lot of practice to use correctly because it can literally kill you.


So even though there’s this super-powerful machine at the heart of the efforts, most wood shop workers also carry a Swiss army knife or Leatherman multitool. It’s lightweight, uncomplicated, and designed to do a few discrete things very well, without needing to put on protective gear or read any user manuals. Turns out it’s really convenient to be able to quickly convert an API dump of data in JSON to CSV, or easily map a row of IP Addresses to locations to see where your customers are coming from, or look up if any file on your network has a hash value that matches a known bad list. None of these tasks should require reading product documentation, let also (::shudder::) taking training.


There’s a time and place when you need the strength and complexity of power tools. But it’s really convenient to go into your pocket in order to accomplish a number of simple tasks quickly and easily.


2. A Waiting Room for IT Efforts


Another analogy I liked came from a user doing digital forensics and incident response. He also had access to a big data platform. For him, as he came across new datasets in his investigations, the question was always: is it worth it to add this data to the platform? These data platforms are amazing at correlating data across many different datasets. But adding data to the platform has costs, both in terms of the platform’s license structure and also in terms of the time it takes for an IT practitioner to set up proper data forwarding from the source. And so often, he didn’t know if the dataset would be valuable in making correlations until he could first see what was in the data itself.




So this user compared Gigasheet to an IT Waiting Room. He needed a space in-between source and destination to figure out what to do with data. It became where he could quickly open big datasets, see what’s in them, and make the decision what should get forwarded on to where. Do you need to send this netflow in? Open it and check it out. Come across a number of offline Windows boxes? Throw the EVTX files in Gigasheet to see if the timestamps overlap with the incident time.


Make your decisions at the edge, without scheduling time with your enterprise data architect.


3. Public Datasets Meet Private Analysis


One thing I certainly didn’t expect was how many of our users would be analyzing public datasets. Governments around the world put out all kinds of interesting data, for which they should be commended, but give users zero ability to actually work with it. It’s the classic .gov site with a link to “Download .CSV [7.1GB]”. You just want to get a look at COVID data, but first you have to find someone who could set up R or Pandas for you.


Enter Gigasheet. We have users looking at land use regulations by plat to make better investments, at voter histories to better target political spending, at real estate listings to understand turnover, and at business registrations to better align a sales force. Special shout out to the United Kingdom’s Data Archive: that is a treasure trove of information that is just now being properly unlocked by the masses.





Going Forward


We love seeing how people are using Gigasheet for reasons we did not plan for. We cannot wait to see what other insights are unlocked by giving everyone the ability to do big data analysis. Sign up for free at beta.gigasheet.co!


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