Corporations want to shake Microsoft Excel. It’s not so easy.

CFOs want to replace Microsoft Excel with new tools. Why? Remote work has exposed Excel’s weaknesses.


July 26, 2021

For years, finance chiefs across the nation have been trying to get their teams to replace Microsoft Excel.

In response, employees have essentially said: “Nah, we’re good.” 

Things may be changing now…

… because remote work is making Excel’s weaknesses more obvious, per The Wall Street Journal. CFOs point to 3 key issues: 

  • Teams are using Excel for tasks it isn’t suited for
  • Manual data entry in Excel is time-consuming
  • Remote work has caused more errors to go unnoticed (Note: data entry is much harder with Netflix in the background)

As a result, corporations are looking to platforms that automate data collection and analysis, including SAP, Oracle, Anaplan, and Workiva. 

Getting rid of Excel brings its own set of challenges

Levi Strauss & Co., which is replacing some Excel tasks with a new AI tool, expects the transition to take 2 years, with the 1st changes going into effect in early 2022, per WSJ

Beyond the time it takes to implement a new solution, there’s the learning curve for employees. Most finance professionals grew up on Excel, which was founded in 1985. 

Excel is regarded as the world’s most popular “programming language” with ~750m global users (in comparison, there were only 10.7m Javascript users as of 2018).

And if that’s not enough, Excel’s dominance is growing…

… with Microsoft recently reporting monthly Excel usage is up ~30% YoY. 

If the success of the Teams chat app has taught us anything, it’s the power of Microsoft Office. Not only is Excel embedded in user habits — it’s a pillar of the most prolific bundle in software history.

To replace Excel, finance chiefs have to be willing to fight the ultimate uphill battle.

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