Every company has a “spreadsheet fabric”

Hjalmar Gislason
Aug 29, 2019 · 2 min read

This article was originally published on the GRID Blog.

When talking to people about their spreadsheet usage, I’ve noticed that spreadsheets are so ubiquitous, people tend to underestimate how much they actually use them.

Asking “How often do you use spreadsheets?” is almost like asking “How often do you use the Internet?” (or “How often do you use oxygen?” for that matter).

This is even more true of organizations as a whole. People underestimate how much their organizations rely on spreadsheets, assuming they are an outlier and everyone else is using “the real stuff”. What is more, managers, admins and IT people may be the ones that understand their organizations’ spreadsheet usage the least. They assume that the formal IT systems are in better shape than they really are, and that people are following the “rules” more than they really do.

But — as we’ve covered before — spreadsheets are the knowledge worker’s way to get stuff done. And if your company is getting stuff done, a lot of that is probably getting done with spreadsheets.

The reality is that every organization has a “spreadsheet fabric”, a growing collection of workbooks ranging from standalone one-off working documents to a mesh of interconnected workbooks that run critical processes for years — even decades.

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Are you aware of your company’s spreadsheet fabric?

When talking to investors for our Seed round, I would point this out. A line that worked well was that I believed that:

up to 50% of a typical organization’s proprietary business logic is in spreadsheets and not in the formal IT systems such as their ERP or CRM

That was until I met a couple of investors with deep ties to Microsoft. They flat out laughed at me (usually not a good sign in a VC meeting) and then told me I was wrong: “It’s more like 90%!”. We’re proud to have them both on board as investors :)

So, what does your organization’s spreadsheet fabric look like? Do you know of critical processes that rely on spreadsheets? Do you know how much you use spreadsheets? Do you have a spreadsheet open right now?

GRID’s mission is to empower people to think and communicate on the fly using data and numbers, as naturally as they do with words and text.

If you liked this post, follow us also on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin where we publish all sorts of spreadsheet goodness.

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Hjalmar Gislason

Written by

Adventures in data. Founder and CEO of GRID (@grid_hq). Proud data nerd. Curious about everything. Founder of 5 software companies.

GRID — the new face of spreadsheets

Thoughts about the nature, ubiquity and importance of spreadsheets — and how to improve them.

Hjalmar Gislason

Written by

Adventures in data. Founder and CEO of GRID (@grid_hq). Proud data nerd. Curious about everything. Founder of 5 software companies.

GRID — the new face of spreadsheets

Thoughts about the nature, ubiquity and importance of spreadsheets — and how to improve them.

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