You don’t have to be in software development to see a recent move from Microsoft as a boon for spreadsheet loyalists everywhere.
Finance professionals and other business leaders are so busy focusing on KPIs that they might not feel they have time to pay attention to what an API is, but a recent announcement related to Excel should change their minds.
The acronym API stands for application programming interface – a building block for software development, essentially. Though some companies tend to strictly control how the APIs behind their applications are used, Microsoft recently announced it would be offering an API for Excel to the global developer community. That means it will potentially become easier to pull data from third-party applications into Excel spreadsheets.
A Microsoft blog post explained the value of the API could bring:
“With more than 300 Excel worksheet functions available, you have full access to the breadth of formula supported by Excel today,” the company said. “Complex business models don’t need to be rebuilt repeatedly; developers can leverage Excel to perform those calculations instantly and retrieve the results with simple API calls.”
According to VentureBeat, this is the clearest sign yet of Excel becoming more of a platform for companies, rather than a simple tool for accounting.
“Microsoft has gradually been turning Office into a data-rich development platform. The hub of this strategic effort is the Microsoft Graph. Previously Microsoft has offered developers a way to work with data on Users, Files, Messages, Groups, Events, personal contacts, Mail, Calendar, and Devices, among other types of entities,” the article said.
An article on the enterprise IT site Petri.com, meanwhile, suggested that the API could serve as a rebuttal to those who suggest finance departments and other areas of the business move away from spreadsheets. Depending on how the API is used, it could mean reduced errors and richer models for all kinds of business uses.
The extensibility that this API brings to Excel will further solidify its position in the corporate world as an indispensable tool for a variety of scenarios. Considering that the API is just now making its way into a production-ready state, it will be interesting to see how quickly developers make use of this new tool to extend the reach of the spreadsheet application and how this feature will change the rate at which new applications are built.
The best news? You don’t have to wait for someone to make use of the Excel API to start turning spreadsheets into the foundation for data-driven decision making today. This is just another sign that Excel is here to stay.
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