Excel has, for just over thirty-five years, been the ‘go-to’ spreadsheet and accounting base upon which many businesses and households ran their accounts. Even accounting packages largely used Excel’s formulae and convenient layout as their basis. The beauty of the spreadsheet program is that it is highly customisable, making it a beautifully blank canvas upon which any number of calculations could be entered, added, stored, and organised.
However, it is this very flexibility that is seeing the end of Excel as we know it. Modern consumers, whether they are large, multi-national companies, or struggling families trying to ensure that no bills are forgotten and a little is put away each month towards that much-needed annual holiday, no longer need or want a blank canvas.
Instead, purpose-designed apps and programs are springing up with intuitive easy to use and ready to go tables, pages, and spreadsheets. Often these can be linked to online banking apps, so that money in and out will automatically populate – ‘fuzzy logic’ operating systems will even categorise payments: supermarkets, butchers and convenience stores tend to sell ‘groceries’, while payments for mobile phones, electricity and gas, and water will be listed under ‘utilities’, allowing users to see trends in their spending that they otherwise would not have been alerted to.
These apps help people to save – sometimes even literally, banking apps can be programmed to ’round up’ all purchases, so a supermarket shop of £38.75 would register as £40.00 spent, and the £2.25 would be paid into a savings account – a subtle and painless way of saving without needing to think about it or action it, as is necessary with Excel budgets.
Businesses too, benefit from accounts packages that are linked to bank accounts, services and more: salary deposits can be made automatically once the timesheets have been approved, stock levels can be monitored and replacement orders readied, and deposits from card payments can be tallied according to need: hourly, daily, or weekly – all without human intervention.
While Excel will no doubt continue to exist in its current form for some time yet, it is clear that the way we use the program will – or already has – change dramatically as technology becomes ever more user-friendly and custom-designed for use.