Just how many rows and columns can you put in there before the Microsoft application says “Enough!” Inside one man’s brave journey to find out.
As Excel enthusiasts, we’ve all been in this scenario at some point: after working for hours on a large, complex set of data, it’s almost impossible not to add numbers to yet another row or column and ask yourself, “Does this Excel spreadsheet never end?” Thanks to Hunter Hobbs, we now know for sure.
In a YouTube clip that quickly went viral early in the new year, the social media creator set himself up for what he described as “the dumbest challenge ever anyone had to do,” where he manually scrolled . . . and scrolled . . . and scrolled some more, until he nearly wore out his wrist and was kept conscious only by his trusty energy drink. The result? Nearly ten hours of labor, condensed into just a few minutes of video. Motherboard, the science and technology channel on Vice.com, pointed out that there is, in fact, more than one way to follow in Hobbs’ keystrokes:
“Hobbs calls his feat the ‘Excel Challenge’, which entails little more than seeing how long it takes to reach an Excel spreadsheet’s 1,048,576th row. Hobbs already seemed to know that Excel spreadsheets had a finite number of rows ahead of time, and the exact number pops up in a number of tutorials and forums easily discoverable with Google,” Motherboard reported. “A quick search also reveals that all versions of Excel after 2007 support 16,384 columns, which should be a far more manageable Excel Challenge for anyone who’s particularly bored.”
Those details may not be as important as the novelty of the stunt itself, which was noted by none other than Yahoo Sports:
What we truly appreciate is Hobbs’ commitment to take us somewhere we’ve all gone in our imaginations every time we opened an Excel file but never had the wherewithal to continue scrolling our lives away to see with our own two eyes.
What finance teams can do with Excel can be similarly illuminating, but with far less manual effort and far greater implications. Some so-called experts, for example, say Excel spreadsheets are considered limited in their ability to assist with sophisticated analytics. That’s demonstrably untrue, but we the business community needs a few more Hunter Hobbses to take the next step and push the capabilities of Excel spreadsheets, combined with cloud-based Corporate Performance Management tools (CPM), and show how far it can take a company in terms of its strategy.
The best part? Hobbs has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that Excel spreadsheets do, in fact, come to an end, though the number is impressively large. What you can do with them as an enterprise platform, however, is infinite.
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