Using Microsoft Excel as an Industry Database
by Gene Muchanski
Executive Director, Dive Industry Association, Inc.
This is the third article in a Series about Databases that Dive Industry Association uses to keep in touch with its Retail and Trade Customers. We’ve been using Excel since the association’s beginning. Keeping track of your current customers, former customers and future customers is an ongoing, never ending job. The database format you use has to be easy to enter data, easy to maintain and easy to extract and use. Microsoft Excel does all of that and it is definitely flexible and scaleable. It works for us and it works well. Excel is understood and used by almost everyone in our industry. It can be used in a PC or Mac environment. We have found that it is compatible with a number of databases we’ve used in the past and having our data on Microsoft Excel helps us upload it onto other platforms.
We use Microsoft Excel to keep track of Dive Industry Professionals and Dive Businesses. Entering names, addresses, phone & fax numbers, email-addresses and website url’s is simple to enter, simple to maintain and simple to extract and use. After each e-mail campaign, updating an Excel spreadsheet is relatively easy. The thing I like most about this platform is that it copies and travels well. That’s not always the case with other database software programs.
When I think of all the different spreadsheet software programs I’ve used since buying my first IBM Computer in 1981 (Lotus 123, Quattro Pro, and now Excel) I’m glad I picked a professional program from an established company and have stayed with that brand a number of year. As our industry database gets larger, our main challenge will be to better understand Excel’s power and capability and continue to make it work for us.
It is important to have current contact information for all of the business sectors in the diving industry that includes; Equipment Manufacturers and their Sales Representatives, Distributors, Retail Dive Centers, Dive Operators, Dive Clubs, Service Providers, Media, Trade Associations, Training Agencies and their Sales Reps, Non-Profit Organizations, Shows & Events Organizers, Training Facilities, Travel Companies, Professional Educators and Industry Professionals. The number of businesses specializing in diving and the individuals who work in each sector changes daily, so publishing an exact number would be meaningless. The important thing is to focus on size and economical potential of the industry, and only a Master Database can help do that.
As database technology improves, the diving industry’s next major challenge will be to identify the number of active, certified divers worldwide. We first need to know how many people all of the certifying agencies have certified in the history of scuba diving. The next task will be to verify their current contact information and determine how many of them are still active in the recreation. Only then can we calculate the economic impact and potential of scuba diving.
Of course, finding the ideal database program is only the beginning of the solution to our industry challenge. Finding the data and storing it is going to be time consuming and expensive but analyzing and using the data is our greatest task. I believe it is going to take an industry to compile, store, analyze and use this data. For that to happen Dive Industry Professionals need to learn to cooperate better on industry challenges and opportunities.