What is this EXCEL?

To start with, let me clarify the intention of this blogpost, it is surely not the one to educate you on Excel, indeed it is to provocate and make you think ‘what does Excel do to you while doing so many things for you?’.

Microsoft released the first version of Excel on 1985 and since then regularly upgraded the capabilities of the tool. Slowly and gradually, it became the most popular spreadsheet system which organizes data and can be manipulated through formulas. After 35 years of release, users still describe it as an ‘ocean’ to dive since there is still many new functionalities to learn.

Most of you would agree with me, especially in the corporate world, ‘MS Excel’ became the top most demanded training after ‘Presentation Skills’, and your level of excel skills became a key indicator of your analytical/ mental capabilities. I would prefer to say, ‘those were the days’ but I am afraid today is more or less same.

Excel geeks became the coolest guys in the organizations, who can solve any problem if you offer them a nice coffee. In time, that cool image caused an unstoppable addiction, because Excel was saving time, bringing in efficiency & effectiveness, and honestly it was always a fun to discover a new formula which fulfilled many users till now:)

Super users of Excel, they built their invisible kingdoms, in Finance, Sales, Marketing, HR, basically in every function ‘Kings of Excel‘ emerged. And I must accept, they were really the life-saving guys who solved so many complications in day-to-day business, seamlessly and quickly.

But at certain point in the life-cycle, the addiction to Excel hindered the appetite for a higher/ better version of digitization, may be not in all but some functions. After starting my own HR Tech Company, Compport, in the area of Compensation & Talent Analytics, as I met with some new HR colleagues, I faced this reality many times. I had some interesting cases, for example I met a company with over 15.000 employees and the HR Head was proudly happy to manage whole compensation cycle through Excel. To express my astonishment, allow me to make a metaphor please, the choice of that company was like sending a fax to communicate someone remotely while Zoom-Uber Conference-Skype-WebEx are already available. In my opinion, the core to that choice was and still is the ‘illusion’ of solving all the complications with the power of excel, with the already tried-proven-known formulas/ spreadsheets and not preferring to go out of the comfort-zone.

I don’t deny how powerful is the tool, as a matter of fact I love Excel, till now it helped me a lot, but as someone being in the HRTech field, and knowing the pains of HR functions very well after 20 years of corporate life experience, I feel responsible, like a missioner, to change the habits for a better versions. So that cool guys, the super users, spend less time in building, testing or running the formulas, or data collection, crunching or analysis etc. Instead they user their analytical skills and highly-valuable talents to interpret the outcomes provided by a completely new-breed digital tool/ software and drive value-adding strategies/ actions/ choices for their organizations, and that all in a very smart and agile way and with zero error risk. With my full heart I believe that those colleagues with their strong mental capabilities can be quite talented in this and organizations need them more than ever.

To conclude, be open to question your long-lasting habits, world is evolving tremendously and accept the fact that there is always a better version, you just need to go out of box and look around. I wish you all enjoy the fruits of your openness and curiosity.

Senem Birim
Co-founder, Managing Partner, Compport