The next few blogposts will be exciting and it’s my honor to share them with you. Six stellar folks responded to a question that I posed, and their responses will be posted here, in their entirety.
Q: WHERE ARE GOOGLE SPREADSHEET & EXCEL HEADED?
As an Excel blogger and Excel power-user, the Excel-haters love to forward stuff to me. Whenever Google adds features to their spreadsheet, friends flood me with emails. It’s like they’re gleefully announcing:
R E A L L Y
Google dropped Dorothy’s house on the wicked witch of Excel and can be rewarded with the ruby red slippers.
Well, I’ve thought about this over the past year, and my thinking has shifted a lot because it’s not clear that Google is gunning for Excel. Are they? And what is Microsoft doing with Excel? Recently, Excel announced that ExcelWebApp spreadsheets can be co-authored, and Google announced that their spreadsheet can be used offline.
What’s going on?
Is Google trying to knock Excel off the throne?
Does Google see its spreadsheet in competition with Excel, vying for the the same users?
Might Excel and Google spreadsheet meet in the middle one day and end up as 2 brands of the same product?
Is Excel trying to keep up by grabbing the best features of Google’s spreadsheet?
Where are we going?
LET’S ASK SOME SMART PEOPLE
6 brilliant people responded. Who are they?
Hiran de Silva, Londoner, longtime Excel/SQL MacGyver, developer of the forthcoming ExcelOMG!
Rob Collie, PowerPivotPro, former Microsoft engineer, founder of “New Excel” Users Groups
Jordan Goldmeier, Excel MVP, blogger at Option Explicit VBA,
Bill Jelen a.k.a. Mr Excel
THEIR RESPONSES …
… are profound because the group paints a detailed panorama of how people use data, what we demand of our tools, and a world is larger than Excel and Google spreadsheet. Jordan presents Tableau as a competitor that both Google and Microsoft should look out for, and he believes, “what Tableau is doing is shaping the direction of Microsoft’s development.”
Bill and Carl have a different perspective, reminding us that Google has other incentives; e.g., offering us free stuff in exchange for advertising to us and monitoring how we use data.
Hiran explores traditional use of spreadsheets, concluding that single-user standalone spreadsheets have extremely limited usefulness. For true productivity, Hiran paints a context where spreadsheets are used in conjunction with other BI tools.
A feisty and informative dialog took shape between our IT Director, Craig Hatmaker and former Excel engineer, Rob Collie. Craig describes Excel and Google spreadsheet as 2 different tools in a David-&-Goliath battle. Rob replies, saying there’s no David-&-Goliath, there’s Goliath-&-Goliath with their own agendas that don’t necessarily comport with users’ needs. Their exchange is a very interesting discussion about attitudes around IT, spreadsheets, enterprise data, and how employees are often incentivised to work around IT.
If there’s one conclusion to draw, it’d be this: this world of data is too complex to think of it as only Excel and Google spreadsheet. Needs are vast, and there is no shortage of tools that do some of the things that we do in our spreadsheets. However, spreadsheets aren’t going anywhere. They’re an everyman’s tool and position power-users as quasi-IT professionals. And I share an interest with Rob, in that, all of this Big Data talk needs to include power users if spreadsheets because the fancy PhD-holding data scientists have a very specific and narrow function. Real, day-to-day BI happens, and will continue to happen in spreadsheets.
I didn’t expect such lengthy responses but they’re fascinating. So, through the remainder of the week, I’ll publish the complete responses. Please, stay tuned!
COMPLETELY UNRELATED OBSERVATION
There’s something going on with Ohio.
Jordan, Rob and Bill share an Ohio connection. It reminds me that the best funk originated in Ohio. In fact, Bootsy Collins still lives in Ohio.
The Ohio Players, Lakeside, Faze-O, Zapp, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Slave, Heatwave, Wild Cherry are all funk bands from Ohio. Now, these Excel folks. WAZZUPWITDAT?