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Yes, it's possible. In my oppinion the easiest approach is to export your data to a csv-file and read it by script. I posted an example in this thread.
However, on PC, it's also possible to exchange data directly between InDesign and Excel, or Access (without csv). I did some tests: the main (InDesign) part was written in JS. Another (Excel) part that opens a workbook, reads records and closes it was written in VB (it is sent from the main part via doScript method). The VB script reads all used ranges puts, them into a string and returns it back to the JS via ScriptArgs.SetValue method (JS gets the string by app.scriptArgs.getValue method).
Since our data files come to us in tab delimited text format, would it be easier to just leave them as is or to convert to CSV?
No, it doesn't matter which format to use: csv or tab delimited text format. Sure you can leave it as it is.