blog If you’ve ever worked inside a major organisation, you are likely more than aware that the insidious virus of Microsoft Excel is still prevalent throughout corporate Australia when it comes to complex tasks. Many of us have spent many hours wrestling with the most insanely convoluted Excel spreadsheets … I still have nightmares when I think about it. The horror!
Excel is fine for many purposes, but when it comes to very complex calculation or record-keeping — of the type commonly carried out by corporations — for most point tasks there are solutions which are infinitely more capable and specialised — including many software as a service platforms. Despite this, Excel is still the first ‘go to’ tool when organisations need to carry out many calculation or record-keeping tasks, due to its flexibility and familiarity. It is normally on everyone’s desktop.
Evidence of this can be found in this article published today by ZDNet, in which the media outlet outlines an Excel to Tableau switch which has saved Queensland financial services giant Suncorp a packet (and its staff ongoing headaches). ZDNet tells us (we recommend you click here for the full article):
“Mark Nelson, Suncorp Group performance analyst, explained that when the company introduced its WOW (week-on-week) performance reporting platform it was initially built on Excel … The weekly results and summary relied on 25 different metrics that was delivered from the company’s internal Cognos system …”
What I find extraordinary about this situation is that the Excel system that Suncorp was using appeared to be already pulling a huge amount of information — 25 separate metrics! — from Cognos to be able to get this job done. Did nobody think at any point, when this level of integration was already required, that Excel *might* not be the best platform to bring all this complex information together, on this kind of scale? Obviously someone eventually did.
I would count as a hero any IT professional who could get this kind of migration done in a major organisation.
It will require quite a bit of work done up-front … but it will no doubt resolve many issues down the track as well as getting rid of the pain of dealing with Excel for really complex work at scale. The reality is that although Excel is an excellent tool (which I used on a daily basis), it is no longer necessarily the best tool for these kinds of complex and large tasks. I hope this Suncorp example can serve as a stimulus for other organisations to shift off Excel in these kinds of situations as well.
Image credit: Microsoft