The Facebook of Business: Why Excel Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon.
George J. Mount blogs about Microsoft Excel, business analytics, and other tips for analysts at georgejmount.com. He is the author of the new course, “Hired with Excel: What Every Analyst Needs to Know.” Like most Excel champions, George hails from the great state of Ohio.
(Me, hey George we love Excel in Europe too! LOL)
Have you heard that McKinsey has estimated a shortfall of 1.5 million analysts in the United States alone by 2018? This statistic is significant for two reasons:
- It signals that an increasing number of jobs will require quantitative aptitude in the near future.
- It shows that anyone who is ready for this change in skills will have a great career ahead.
You may be seeing this shift to a data-centric business culture at your own company. Have you noticed more requests for detailed statistics and reports? Have you needed more quantitative insights to justify your business decisions? Many readers ask me how to prepare themselves for the data-driven work world. They may have studied the liberal arts in college and now find themselves in a more quantitatively-focused role. Or maybe they’ve been promoted and the ability to analyze data arises urgently — the scenario which Anne’s book wonderfully addresses.
Anne and my advice is to learn Excel. It’s an essential, versatile skill, and it’s not going anywhere.
Why Excel isn’t going away anytime soon
Like a good business student, I’m constantly identifying threats and challenges to my industry. As a business analyst, I use Excel at least 35 hours a week. This is in addition to my side projects as an Excel blogger and trainer. In short, my career is linked closely to Excel.While Excel is still the leader in data analysis and business intelligence, competition is increasing. Tableau, Qlik, and other tools are sprouting all over, and some are predicting the demise of Microsoft Office as the hegemonic data power it is today.These threats are overblown — keep learning Excel. It will be around. Here’s why:
Network effects keep Excel strong.
I was an economics major and find this discipline an incredibly helpful way to look at the world. The concept of network effects explains the success of many companies and products today, including Excel.Network effects state that the value of something grows with the number of people who use it. It is like a good party — the more people who come, the more fun it gets, the harder it is for anyone to leave.My favorite example of network effects is Facebook. I remember when it was a fledgling networking site meant for college students. But today it is a fixture of life for everyone. Its value and utility have grown to the point where it would be much harder to leave this social network — or start a new one.Of course, social media sites can still die. Look at Myspace, for example. It takes investment in the product and understanding of the customer to keep any business going, including one built on network effects. Fortunately, Excel is doing this.
Excel is the Facebook of business
At this point could you imagine sending a spreadsheet in another file format than Excel to a client or colleague? Since everyone uses Excel, your value in it grows even more.This is why I joke that Excel is the Facebook of business. Just like Facebook, it is worldwide. You wouldn’t send a Lotus 1-2-3 file just like you wouldn’t send a Myspace request.Will Microsoft be able to keep these network effects amid increased competition? I believe it will. Microsoft understands the importance of network effects in keeping Excel the top business analysis tool in the marketplace. It has strong relations with its users and seeks to grow its large, unrivaled user base.Importantly, it has made significant investments in the power of Excel. Through tools like Power Query and the Data Model, it has kept Excel relevant as the size and scope of data increases.A few years ago, Excel frankly wasn’t ready for the phenomenon of “Big Data.” But with these investments, it maintains its place as the go-to tool for end-user data analysis.
So, go ahead and learn Excel. Check out my course on Excel for job seekers. Buy Anne’s book on quickly mastering Excel after a promotion. Like Facebook, but more productive, Excel will flourish — right alongside your career.