A sample of job openings across industries revealed that 10% required a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel. This is quite a staggering figure given the fact that it includes a wide range of industries and job functions. This figure is undoubtedly higher if we focus on jobs in an office\administrative environment. In the following paragraphs we will explore the reasons companies value Microsoft Excel and why it is arguably a company’s greatest asset.
The first reason Excel is a company’s greatest asset is that it is a space which allows ideas to take shape. In some ways it mirrors the fermentation process. Fermentation is described as the process of converting sugars into ethanol. Like this process Excel gives users a space to “ferment” data to create information, mine data for unknown truths and thus creating value for the organization. Microsoft Excel serves as the central point where data from QuickBooks, merchant banks and public sources can come together to discover business opportunities for small and large organizations.
The second reason Microsoft Excel is a company’s greatest asset is it’s an extension of the human intellect. Innovation stemming from ideas birthed in the human mind essentially differentiates one floundering organization from a thriving one. When I conduct Excel workshops for clients, I often compare Excel to an artist’s canvas. In both cases the only limit is the imagination and the knowledge of the tools available. Employees can use Microsoft Excel to test the feasibility of new initiatives, determine return on investment or automate redundant tasks. For example, a few years ago a government agency where I worked would routinely create charts and reports as part of its annual budget process. The task of compiling data to generate summary charts for 50+ departments took weeks for the small staff of nine to complete. One of the employees came up with the idea of automating the process. Over the next few months I employed the use of macros and VBA to reduce the resources needed to create the 50+ budget charts from 2 weeks and 9 employees to 4 hours and 1 employee pressing a button. This process would have never been generated has it not been for the idea and expertise meeting at the right time.
The third reason Excel is your greatest company asset is the Return on Asset (ROA). Return on asset is a close cousin to the popular Return on Investment (ROI). ROA is complied by dividing earnings by total assets. The higher the percentage, the better a company is at utilizing its assets to turn a profit. Applying this computation with Microsoft Excel and related income would undoubtedly yield a high ROA percentage. Relative to the cost, Excel yields substantial benefits. This tool is used to create reports, automate processes, and analyze internal and external data, and the list goes on and on. All of which have a positive impact on income.
The fourth reason Excel is your greatest company asset is its ability to easily communicate with other software. Very often I hear a speaker at a technology conference foretelling the demise of Microsoft Excel, in lieu of prevailing software however, it is telling that the target software usually has a download to Excel capability. Why do vendors create such a component to easily download data into Excel if its purpose is to replace it? I surmise that it is the “can’t beat’em join’em” many of the popular software packages today have a component to download data to Excel. Microsoft Excel has such a tight grip in organizations it is very difficult to distance any software package from this tool. A few examples of packages that can be downloaded into Excel are QuickBooks and PeopleSoft to name a few.
In essence, the mandate of every organization is to utilize current resources to produce value. Value may be measured in different ways by different organizations. For a Non-profits value is measured by the number of clients serviced. For a government entity value is measured by its ability to meet the needs of the people. For companies value is measured by its ability to accumulate wealth for stakeholders. Each of these organizations is required to take limited resources to produce the most value possible. Regardless of the institutional measure of value an investment in Microsoft Excel is an investment in the creation of value.