Datalytika Blog

Why Excel is Here to Stay

3rd February, 20225 min read4 comments
Image Credit: Datalytika Excel Templates

Here is my understanding of the spreadsheet market currently and in the upcoming years*:

1. Consumer space: Lots of millennials grew up opposed to Microsoft, and several of them who weren't power-users jumped at the free alternatives by Google, OpenOffice. As a result, Excel lost ground here.

2. Enterprise space: Excel continues to dominate this market, as a result of great BI tools, focus on large customers and large investment required by companies to train in alternatives. Google mining data and selling to third-party advisers for profit is not what enterprises want, and, the price for Office 365 is almost same as Google for Work.

Having said that, here is why I feel Microsoft Excel is well-positioned to continue dominating enterprise sphere, while also regaining larger share of the consumer market in the upcoming 3-4 years:

1. Office has gone past its Windows-first policy, which will allow it to reach a wider audience irrespective of OS. Office for Mac always existed, but with the launch of Office for Android, threat of competitors propping up exclusively for these platforms has reduced. Also, it takes the battle straight to Google's turf.

2. A strong focus and heavy investment on ensuring uniform experience across endpoints whether it be mobiles, tablets or PCs (in iOS, Android, Win10) by Microsoft Office as well as the amazing continuum feature of Windows 10 (which allows users to smoothly move between devices) can win back fans in the consumer space as well as solidify the base in enterprise market.

3. A much quicker shipping cycle (in the order of months) compared to 3-year cycles allows users to get updates quicker.

4. Some of the above updates have addressed extreme pain points of customers such as collaborative editing experience, while mobile/ tablet versions are touch-friendly and very usable and accessible.

5. Excel takes care of large customers driving adoption at reasonable pace without having to do large organizational changes.

6. Very vast internationalization support: More consumers outside US are empowered everyday, and Excel has crazy support for many locales.

7. One area where Excel (or Office in general) might face a strong challenge is in its licensing models, as it is up against free offerings from competitors and sometimes licensing can be complicated for the user with so many types of accounts. The introduction of Office 365 has lowered subscription costs and provided a true Cloud experience enhanced by a OneDrive integration enabling free editing of documents and spreadsheets from anywhere. However, the marketing for this has room for growth, as many people I know never heard of OneDrive/ knew about the existence of free web editing of Office apps.

8. Extensibility for Office can open up lots of doors and already exists to an extent (Add-ins in Excel 2016 and Build your first Excel add-in) and a deeper focus on them might turn the tables. Lots of tough decisions to be made based on prioritizing the tasks over a long horizon.

In the longer run (~15 years), it gets difficult to predict especially given how rapidly platforms change. I believe Windows 10’s flexibility to seamlessly make apps work whether on raspberry pi, Hololens etc gives an advantage to Excel. However in this time frame, the battle might be won by a combination of whoever has the best (and easiest to use) APIs to empower developers as well as whoever has the better licensing, branding and advertising of the same in that time frame.


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