I had a dream. A crazy one. Imagine the death of Excel. It is very hard to imagine the situation where you don’t have a possibility to pull data in a comfy spreadsheet file, sort, delete columns and to get the result. Instead of that, your system will do that work and you will be able to focus on actually doing your engineering or manufacturing job.
More people today are moving towards systems that recognize data and its semantics as a fundamental valuable asset. It is an important move from the situation where we are using dumb spreadsheet containers with data that that can be understood only by few people in your company. Remember my old post – Do we need Chief Excel Officer to manage BOM? Here you go – no more Excels.
Welcome new generation
App generation is different from Excel generation. The greatest threat to existing Excel status is new generation of people that grew up in the world where files are not necessarily needed. Think about mobile phones, internet websites and many other examples of new digital environment. For most of them, files are not something that needed. You don’t have files on your iPhone. For most of the cases, Apps bring you data you need.
Our data is fragmented today. Even Excel spreadsheet is allowing you to connect one piece of data to another, in practice it is hard to do and maintain in a consistent way. Hundreds of Excel spreadsheets with islands of disconnected data are spread around the organization with no ability to track it. Bad… Therefore, it is not a surprise that companies are building data driven solutions that can handle semantics of data and put right data in front of right people at the right time.
From single desktop computer to BYOD
In the past, our life was very connected to a desktop computer. Then it changed a bit and engineers moved to mobile workstations. The reality of today is to switch into massive usage of multiple devices – mobile phones, tablet, computers at home, etc. It was relatively easy to maintain a set of Excel files on your single computer. It is much harder to do with multiple devices, especially some of them are not supporting file systems as their experience paradigm.
What is my conclusion? It is clear to me that our environment becomes less friendly to Excel spreadsheets. The way to capture, organize and present data is changing. What was natural 10 years ago for old school engineers will become outdated and crazy for new generation of people. The data must be disconnected from computers spreadsheet formats and live in a world where you can take an advantage of data access for communication, collaboration and decision making. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network-based platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.