Excel : still THE killer app

Microsoft’s 40th birthday gives the opportunity to take a look at the past. What we find is that Excel’s adoption in the IT landscape has been huge. Let me explain why THE killer app has been part of Microsoft’s success so far.

A bit of history

Just like the rear-view mirror in a car, let’s look at what we left behind to be able to better apprehend what’s coming up.

Excel has been part of Microsoft Office suite right from the start.
The usual suspects were out for Mac first:

  • Word 1.0 in 1984
  • Excel 1.0 in 1985
  • PowerPoint 1.0 in 1987

All those 3 products came bundled into MS Office which was released in 1989 for Mac first and then in 1990 for Windows 3.0.

Then came the following versions:

  • Office 1.5
  • Office 1.6
  • Office 3.0
  • Office 4.0
  • Office 4.3
  • Office for NT 4.2
  • Office 95 (7)
  • Office 97 (8)
  • Office 2000 (9)
  • Office XP (10)
  • Office 2003 (11)
  • Office 2007 (12)
  • Office 2010 (14)
  • Office 2013 (15)
  • Office 2016 (16): coming up!

Usage of THE killer app

All sort of organisation have been using Excel as a do it all, one-stop shop application.

  • List of everything and anything: suppliers, customers, employees, products, resources, offices, biological taxonomy of the Invertebrates… you name it.
  • Need a request form for : annual leaves, purchasing, any internal process…
  • Need consolidation of data, analytics and reporting?

Excel is great for that!

All departments of an organisation have been using Excel for the past 27 years to do critical processes.

Most of the time, Excel’s macros scripted in VBA have been used just like an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), allowing a workflow and reporting like application.

Even if organisation have changed to use more advanced ERP application, it’s still not rare to hear that behind the most sophisticated technological and industrial process lies an Excel spreadsheet which decides ultimately of the course of an organisation’s day to day business critical decision.

Being the locomotive for Windows and SharePoint

While Excel has been available on Mac even before Windows, I believe it’s still THE killer application along with Word which has been part of the success of Windows over the years.

What SharePoint has anything to do with Excel?

Well, put it this way, when I explain to my fellow techies what SharePoint is, I just say that, to put it bluntly, it’s just “a list of list”.

Just like Excel, it has columns and lines where you can produce calculations and manipulate date and all sort of fancy formats.
So for me, SharePoint is just the extension of Excel into the server side, and actually Microsoft has done a great job to integrate SharePoint with Office in general and Excel in particular.

Look at just the following functionalities: Spreadsheet view (Quick Edit), Export to Excel and all the nice things in Excel Services, without talking about BI.

With Office Web Apps, Microsoft has gone an extra mile into fulling integrating the Office client into SharePoint.

The future for Excel

More than ever, Excel will remain THE killer app.
It becomes more and more intelligent by the day with great features.

Already with the professional version of Excel 2013, you can now get all the great BI (Business Intelligence) features like PowerPivot / PowerQuery / PowerMap/ PowerView.

Now with Excel 2016 coming up, you’ll have even better data analyses and visualisation.

Following Ignite this week, we see that BI in Excel 2016 follows the trend already set up with the 2013 version but with some additional enhancements.

Excel 2016 BI

  • Get data: Integration of Power Query
  • Analyse: Enhanced Analysis
  • Visualise: Enhanced dashboards and reports
  • Publish: Easy Publishing within SharePoint Online or on-premise
  • Consume: Better Excel Online Consumption with the PowerBI site in Office 365.

For more information about Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview, follow  the link!

Published by

Jean-François Pironneau

Jean-François Pironneau

Travaillant depuis 2003 sur les versions successives de SharePoint, je me suis spécialisé au fur et à mesure des années dans la partie infrastructure/technique.

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