Dear Analyst #130: What happens when we rely too much on Excel spreadsheets and shadow IT takes over?

This is a replay of an episode from the Make Sense podcast with Lindsay Tabas.

In the 1990s, large enterprises typically bought software in a tops-down approach. IT teams would get get Oracle software or Microsoft Office and get their entire organization to use the software. Since these tools are the default IT “blessed” tools, people start putting everything in these tools. This is why I think most people decide to push everything into Excel even though Excel is primarily meant for financial analysis. When it’s already installed on your computer and everyone knows how to use it, Excel becomes the crutch that we turn to regardless of the use case.

Source: xkcd

Shadow IT and the swinging pendulum of SaaS tools vs. Excel spreadsheets

In this episode, Lindsay Tabas and I talk about why large enterprises rely so much on Excel. This is part of a bigger movement of shadow IT and citizen development where individuals build business-critical workflows without needing an engineer or developer to step in. We talk about the shift from the 1990s of big monolithic software platforms to the explosion of workplace SaaS tools going into the 2000s and 2010s. The pendulum keeps on swinging back and forth as the SaaS tool sprawl gets too wide for IT departments to handle.

Despite the ebb and flow of teams having freedom to pick up their own tools vs. IT shoving software down everyone’s throats, we talk about why Excel will never die. We talk about how to get off the crutch of using Excel and one of the strategies I mention is to have a curious mind and be willing to learn new to tools. Every week we see new tools launched on Product Hunt that are supposed to replace some feature in Excel. These tools were borne out of the frustration that comes with trying to do something in Excel that Excel was not meant for. Nevertheless, you need to keep an open mind to see what these new tools are all about. You never know which one of these tools just might replace how you use Excel.

Source: Not Boring by Packy McCormick

Other Podcasts & Blog Posts

No other podcasts or blog posts mentioned in this episode!