Friday, October 5, 2007

Office apps as killer apps - part 1: Spreadsheets

"There's no killer app - only a killer attitude" - but evidently there has been a few "traditional" killer apps around.

I will make a couple of post on some office applications that has turned into real negative killer apps. At least partly.

The first area is spreadsheets.

VisiCalc was one of the first spreadsheet programs around. It was a traditional "Killer App.", since all of a sudden there was a good reason to put a PC on every desk in the office.

Spreadsheets really innovated the way people dealt with calculation. No more calculators with a paper roll for long calculations. Instead you got a multidimensional view that was easliy updated.

Today everyone in an office environment are using Excel every now and then. For various purposes. both for calculations and for more database like purposes (see this post for one view of this).

Enter Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Management. Suddenly we have some issues!

Even if it is possible to share Excel sheets as a multiuser application still a majority of spreadsheets are kept as individual files. Mostly on your own hard disk. Sometime as a file on the LAN. In both cases we have a problem.

All of these spreadsheets contains information. Information that is valuable to the whole organisation if it is turned into Knowledge.

The standard way to turn this information into knowledge is to pass a copy of the spreadsheet around.

What happens?

You get a copy of a spreadsheet. Filled with information from someone. This information is now part of your knowledge.

You add your information to the spreadsheet. Creating another version. Eventually you pass it around, making it part of someones knowledge.

It doesn't take many rounds to end up with many versions of the original spreadsheet. All with some parts of the truth. Not good.

Of course this is not really a technical problem, as solutions exists. Either using a multi-user environment with Excel or another tool.

It is more a cultural problem. People do what they always have done.

How does you and your organisation approach this issue. Or is it not an issue for you?

(And don't get me wrong. I believe Excel and spreadsheets are great.
But in some cases you need a different approach, especially if the spreadsheet and its content may be of interest to others than yourself. Here's another article on the subject)

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Blogger cristian said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 8, 2009 at 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Author !
Curious topic

December 10, 2009 at 12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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December 11, 2009 at 9:04 AM  

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