The Importance of Excel in Business
March 09, 2022
Microsoft Excel was first released in 1985, and has steadily grown to become what is probably the most important business application in the world. Given that more than 80% of businesses use Excel for planning, budgeting and forecasting, it is safe to say that Excel is a powerful tool.
Over the years, Excel has evolved to meet business needs becoming the to-go tool for a variety of use cases worldwide. Tracking sales trends, analyzing competitors, creating custom reports, book-keeping, budgeting, tracking stock prices, scheduling are just some of the many applications- Excel is entrenched in business processes.
Why is Excel so popular?
For many small businesses, Microsoft Excel is the default choice for bookkeeping- this is potentially the biggest use case businesses have for Excel. Excel has several templates to make accounting easier for companies. Excel was created keeping in mind accounting needs like budgeting, creating financial statements and balance sheets and preparing custom reports. You can also import and export data from and to other accounting platforms.
However, popularity of Excel for accounting purposes for businesses has been on a decline since 2017. Experts suggest that one potential reason is the sharp decline in the cost of using cloud based SaaS tools for accounting.
Marketing teams use Excel for competitor analysis, budget planning, sponsorship tracking etc. While large marketing teams at larger companies have access to specialized software to manage their processes, several marketing department at smaller companies rely on pivot tables and graphs for the same. Pivot tables enable them to summarize sales figures strengthening decision making efforts.
Excel is the go-to tool for simple scheduling use cases. For e.g. one can create weekly worksheets for conference room availability for employee to book to use for meetings, so that everyone is aware of when the room is available and they can book for meetings that do not clash.
Excel spreadsheets have built-in functionality to streamline inventory systems. With ready-to-use templates for inventory management, it is easy to get started: make complex calculations, group sheets, filter results and set up alerts. For operations heavy companies, inventory management is the backbone and Excel is a low-cost and easy-to-use solution.
Workforce planning is extremely data-focused, and Excel templates can help to think ahead strategically. Excel can help visualize your workforce and use the data to understand what changes need to made in the long and short term. Custom reports enable HR to keep tabs on the pulse of the organization and track key metrics.
With almost 1B users globally, Excel is the #1 platform for analyzing data, finding information, creating charts and presenting reports. The simple user interface, intuitive workflow, and lack of need for technical know-how is what prevents endless attempts by other tools to replace Excel futile. Microsoft has invested heavily to keep Excel the king of BI, making sure it is feature-rich while still being simple to use.
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Deepti is a co-founder at Adaface. Her online persona is extroverted, but in real life she is terribly introverted and you can startle her just by calling out her name.
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