El Pais Reports on Financial Managers Looking for Alternatives to Excel

January 3, 2018

Originally published, December 25, 2017, on ElPais.com by Jose Mendiola Zuriarrain

Excel before its decline? Some managers are already looking for alternatives

The financial director of Adobe wants to reduce the use of the famous spreadsheet

It would be difficult to turn on a computer in any office and not find the ubiquitous tool: Excel. Microsoft's popular spreadsheet application continues to be the main alternative - and almost essential - for the massive handling of data and operations. Modifying a cell and seeing the result of our action at the end of the page in a matter of seconds seems like pure magic, but nevertheless, this software could face a future not as golden as it is in the present. Some managers have already pressed the alarm button to verify that their employees spend too much time processing data, and less analyzing data.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mark Garrett, chief financial officer of Adobe, acknowledges that he wants his executives to stop using Microsoft's popular spreadsheet and focus more on analyzing data than manipulating them. "I do not want my financial team to waste time importing, exporting and manipulating data," Garrett explains, "I want them to focus on what the data tells us." The complaint is based on the much-assimilated habit among managers to manipulate Excel, which many warn is a drain on productivity.

There is no doubt that the arrival of Excel was a shock in the world of companies that could do mass calculations instantaneously, however, some of these managers regret that the application has not been able to adapt to new needs of the modern company. And which are they? Basically manipulate the data collaboratively; that is, that the spreadsheet is not limited to a file on a specific hard drive, but to a live document on the network, linked to the rest of the company's data in real time.

WDesk is one of the solutions in the cloud that is picking up part of the companies disenchanted with the traditional spreadsheet. This product in the cloud of the firm Workiva is integrated with the rest of the firm's resources and offers information in real time to those who consult it and without margin of errors. The issue of errors is not casual, and is that one of the arguments put forward by department heads against conventional spreadsheets is the number of different versions that each user can obtain in their calculations. The information may cease to be reliable.

Other collaborative tools are used as alternatives in the financial field, such as Zoho Finance Plus , or more complete solutions such as Anaplan, or even Google's own GSuite. It seems that the spreadsheet issue is still a hot potato that nobody wants to attend to; Thus, a study carried out between the companies of the United Kingdom by the firm FSN revealed that 43% of British companies were unaware of the number of spreadsheets used daily, while 60% of respondents acknowledged spending too much time on data manipulation, and possibly the most clarifying data, 71% of companies still depended on spreadsheets to collect data.

All in all, Microsoft has not stood still in the face of this paradigm shift and has already been offering corporate solutions in the cloud thanks to Office 365, which has more than 120 million users all over the world. Although the company does not specify what part of the users use the tool for financial analysis, the biggest headache for managers who shun its use among their teams.

For the latest information and news, visit The Workiva Newsroom.

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