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Originally published 6 February 2014
Take a look around you. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the spreadsheet is everywhere. I once was at a company in the Midwest that estimated that 4,000,000 unique spreadsheets were created each year in just one building. (That was just a guess. Nobody really knew. It is entirely possible that the actual number was even higher.)
What does that mean? Among other things, it means that some employees at the company did little more than spend their days creating new spreadsheets.
So what’s the big attraction? For all the value of the spreadsheet, probably the single largest attraction is that of CONTROL. When I have my own spreadsheet, I have total and perfect control over what data goes onto the spreadsheet and how that data is to be interpreted. So autonomy of the end user is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) attractions of the spreadsheet.
Another attraction of the spreadsheet is that I can get the data on a computer. I don’t need the IT department to create a new transaction or a new report in order for me to create my own small form of automation. I can have my own automation immediately.
Yet another attraction of the spreadsheet is that I can get the spreadsheet to do things for me. I can cause it to add numbers together, and I can get it to do multiplications and divisions. If I want to do something other than the mere collection of data, then I can get the spreadsheet to do lots of things.
There are other ancillary uses of the spreadsheet. I can use the spreadsheet to document things. I can use the spreadsheet as a form of communication. I can use the spreadsheet as a form of analysis. At the end of the day, the technology that supports the spreadsheet is inexpensive. In a word, there are good reasons why the spreadsheet is as popular as it is.
SOURCE: The Ubiquitous Spreadsheet
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