The truth about why IT want to kill Excel after 25 years

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microsoft excelExcel is 25 years old! That's a very long time for any application to still be alive let alone integral to every organisation, from multi-billion dollar companies to the corner store.

Excel is a testament to Microsoft's ability to let others test the market then launch an application in that space and not only take the original's market share but expand the market and make their application a permanent fixture.  Well done Microsoft.

Anyway, Microsoft doesn't make rubbish software either! Here is the time line of Excel's life.

Microsoft Excel Timeline

So why do IT want to kill off Excel? After all, IT suggested we use it 25 years ago, so what's changed?

Our use of Excel has changed. Over time, Excel came out with more rows and columns and sheets, Pivot Tables, macros and now with PowerPivot.  Excel has transformed into a quasi database, data mart or as we call it a Spread Mart.

A Spread Mart is when Finance, operations, sales administration etc. turn the humble Excel work book into an impressive reporting or planning application. These workbooks contain data from different departments, time periods, currencies, GL, Payroll, Sales, manufacturing etc. all linked with formula and macros.

Why use Excel? Excel is the only tool we have and know. We don't understand or have access to relational or OLAP databases (both should be taught in University to finance grads) and our VBA skills are gleaned from Google these days.

So what's IT's issue? Security – there is none. Data integrity – there is none, auditability – a nightmare! Wasted time – too much. Are these things a big deal to the business? If you answer no you are lying and you know it!

There is a better way WITH Excel and Business Intelligence is the answer (like you didn't see that coming). Personally I think SOME IT departments go too far trying to kill Excel altogether. Remove Excel and see productivity drop and people leave.

Experience shows that when Excel is embraced as part of the Business Intelligence tool set, users are very happy because:

  • They keep Excel
  • Get rid of those linked work books
  • Spend their valuable time analysing rather than a human database management tool
  • Go home on time, every day
  • Reports are created in an instant from trustworthy data sources and remain connected to that data source
  • Get transaction information from summary reports with one click from Excel
  • Data is optionally captured (write back) via the spread sheet directly into a database and calculated and aggregated instantly for reporting
  • Reports and input templates are built and maintained in Excel and available on the web in minutes, not days.

IT are happy too. Data is secure and trustworthy. Data is accessible by those who need it when they need it.

Include strong Excel integration in your BI strategy and you will have an unbeatable BI system empowering your decision makers and helping make your organisation the best it can be.

Hey, it Microsoft Excel's 25'th birthday this year so when you have your Excel birthday party in the tea room, make sure you play this:

Excel is the best!

For more information, email me at or leave a comment.

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