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Financial Director – December 2015

THE release of Back to the Future in 1985 was, frankly, of infinitely more importance than that of Excel at the time.

But, much to my irritation, Excel has permeated my personal and professional life to a greater extent than that of Marty McFly’s exploits since then. It also permeates the pages of this month’s Financial Director – some of it planned, but some of it unintentionally. It’s just…there.

The tool is used so widely, for such a wide range of purposes, and easy to pick up, that it’s unlikely to disappear any time soon. But we are in disruptive times. Professional and personal lives are played out via the medium of mobile devices. The amount of data at hand grows exponentially.

Forget the buzzword ‘flexibility’: In fact more and more control is being layered into our working lives – and the ubiquity of such a malleable and accessible tool in the finance function means that it’s likely to be a risk management headache.

So, are there alternatives? Well, there are different ways of working, layers and interfaces that sit over Excel. Its use should be better managed.

But, when it comes to the crunch, we’re an inquisitive lot. And finance types channel this through playing with numbers, and Excel is exceedingly good at letting you do so.

I’m sure some 14-year-old bright spark will come up with an app that blows it out of the water. Then again, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if we’re back here again in 30 years’ time celebrating its 60th anniversary. As for Back to the Future, well, the future’s more uncertain.

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