Why some companies are ditching spreadsheets for SaaS offerings

As decision making grows more collaborative and workforces more distributed, enterprises are finding ways to avoid or enhance siloed, static spreadsheets

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"We know there are companies that never upgraded to Office 2007 and are still using Office 2003. We want to make them aware of the innovations we've made in collaboration and real-time authoring," he says. He adds that Microsoft is also working closely with partners such as Reuters to provide smoother access to real-time data feeds and other critical add-ons.

No huge migration -- yet

Melissa Webster, an analyst at research firm IDC, has studied the potential for erosion in Microsoft's market share as upstarts hit the market, and she says that for the immediate future, Microsoft will remain the leader.

"I would agree that Excel has been used by many companies as a basic tool... where a purpose-built tool would have been better," she says. But there is an upside for Microsoft: Because Excel is already on a large majority of enterprise desktops and laptops, many companies don't need new licenses for it and, therefore, Excel may cost less than its counterparts, Webster says. "Microsoft Office continues to be widely used by 97 percent or so of companies we survey each year, and survey respondents indicate they are continuing to upgrade to new versions," she says.

In other words, there are no additional fees to continue using Excel because it's part of Office and users are upgrading to new versions of Office anyway, Webster explains. Turning to alternative products would likely involve paying new fees.

But don't count out the growing list of upstarts offering tools that can handle various spreadsheet tasks. "We are not at the generation that would be ready to abandon spreadsheets yet," Ventana Research's Kugel says. But he adds it may not be too long before that happens -- and forward-thinking IT shops might want to start exploring their options.

Sandra Gittlen is a freelance technology writer in the Boston area. Contact her at sgittlen@verizon.net.

This story, "Why some companies are ditching spreadsheets for SaaS offerings" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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