A 2014 report by the Aberdeen Group includes the results of a survey asking what people found most challenging about spreadsheets. The biggest reported challenge was version control issues.
At least people are becoming aware of the problems—even if they are still failing to address them.
One statement in the report that depresses me is
…Best-in-Class organizations are 40% more likely than All Others to have enterprise software that has an interface that mirrors the look and feel of spreadsheets.
My guess is that this is correlation, not causality. But it’s indicative of a perspective that plagues the software industry. Most software is just a copy of something else. Very few people sit down and attempt to build efficient user interfaces.
There are off-the-shelf components for building grids and everyone knows how to use a spreadsheet, so let’s build something that looks like a spreadsheet. That’s how the argument goes.
However, a spreadsheet isn’t a particularly efficient interface. It benefits from the fact that we’ve all been trained in how it works, but this preexisting knowledge drags down true innovation.
Grids of numbers require interpretation. If I’m in front of a computer, I don’t want to have to think about numbers. That’s why I bought the computer. Software developers need to learn how to deliver insights—not data.