Here are MY New Year’s thoughts:
I used to just assume that spreadsheets were forever – I don’t think that way anymore.
I have made the point in many speeches around the world that Scrooge and Cratchit were doing “spreadsheets” that famous, fictional, Christmas eve. I believed that once people started using ledgers to track money (as opposed to abacuses (abaci?)) the electronic spreadsheet was just a natural step and would now just get better and better and more powerful as it is used by smarter and smarter and better experienced users. This would lead to a plethora of professionally designed “spreadsheet applications” that providedintegrated and integral functionality for businesses all over the world – forever.
The spreadsheet was the “killer app” of the PC (Personal Computer) when the Apple IIe and the IBM PC came out and it remained so for a long time. In the old days my spreadsheets (and Access apps) were able to get in, get done and get paid before IT even knew they existed. Then most of them were left alone because they got the job done and didn’t need any IT resources to maintain. Only when the apps were TOO good did they become an embarassment for IT and get shut down – but I was already paid so I didn’t really give a shit.
Then the Internet came along, and along with the Internet came better and better connectivity and the PC was basically co-opted into the corporate interior and fell under the management of IT. With security worries, SOX, off-shoring. large consulting firms and now the economic meltdown, (that is not over by the way), things have changed.
Remember the phrase “under the radar”? Well the radar has been moved down to ground level and now the old model doesn’t work. Potential clients don’t have the power or budget to spend money on these projects and getting rights to the data or the network resources has become so difficult or impossible to prevent many projects before they even get off the ground – and that is just not good business for people like me either.
So without the ability to connect to the data required, use internal network capabilities as necessary or the rights to use outside resources, Excel is now playing the role of the only tool that users have the rights to use BY themselves (so far) in “personal” ways or to email around inefficiently and insecurely. So many, many business processes are currently being run on bad user-maintained spreadsheets. In short order IT will begin shutting spreadsheets down – to protect the businesses. Under these circumstances that will probably be a good idea.
Such spreadsheets could not be relied on as sources of anything in the SharePoint environment that is being bet on anyway. So where is all that SharePoint “content” going to come from?
Rather than becoming a major tool in the suite of tools available for business analysis and process, Excel is becoming a rogue time-bomb just waiting for the powers-that-be to realize it has to be shut down. This is a dirty, rotten shame IMHO. This was and is totally unnecessary but it has been allowed to happen and it is what it is.
Can anyone do anything about it? I know one organization that can, but I doubt they will.
So we all have to plan our futures accordingly.
Happy New Year everyone.