Home » Ch 10 – decision support with spreadsheet software (Page 2)

Category Archives: Ch 10 – decision support with spreadsheet software

MrExcel – a great source for all things Excel

MrExcel.comThis is a link to a great source for all things Excel – Microsoft Excel Tips & Solutions from MrExcel. This website boasts Excel knowledge that goes much beyond the standard Excel user, providing you with knowledge that will become beneficial not only to you, but also to you company.

So why did Lotus 1-2-3 lose against Microsoft Excel?

Image Credit: Andrew Mason/Flickr

Image Credit: Andrew Mason/Flickr

In the textbook, we remark the following on Lotus Notes:

Especially Lotus 1-2-3 marked another quantum leap for electronic spreadsheet programmes, as it introduced now well-known tools like naming cells, ranges, macros, charting, plotting and database operations. Throughout the 1980s, Lotus 1-2-3 dominated office computers as the most widespread and most functional electronic spreadsheet programme.

So why did Lotus 1-2-3 not persevere? Not many of us can remember having seen Lotus Notes 123, let alone having used it at one point.

In the 1980s, Lotus 1-2-3 was quite the “killer app” – it dominated office computers worldwide, and was the quasi-standard of spreadsheet applications. At this point, spreadsheet applications were still mostly commandline-based, so you would not really need a mouse. In addition, the demand for a lot of functionalities was not that high, but when Excel came along, Lotus 1-2-3 was an already bloated and outdated piece of software. Its developers missed the sign of the times, and Excel took the market by storm. As more and more complicated calculations were needed, especially in the finance industry, Lotus 1-2-3 missed out and Excel took over. Within a few years, Excel became the dominating force in spreadsheets, and has been ever since.

Cloud computing breathes new life into the mainframe

This link leads to an interesting blog by Nick Hardiman that explains why the good old mainframe described in chapter 10 might experience second wind by cloud computing.

Hardiman, N. (2014). The mainframe evolves into a new beast in the cloud era. [Blog]TechRepublic. Available at: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-mainframe-evolves-into-a-new-beast-in-the-cloud-era/#. [Accessed 19 May. 2014].


Old mainframe computer


The power of the F4 key in Excel

The F4 key In Excel, using various shortcuts helps enormously in saving time when creating spreadsheets. One of the most useful shortcuts I know is using the F4 key when entering a cell reference in a formula. Hitting the F4 key when a cell or range reference is selected cycles through various combinations of absolute and relative references.

An example. Let’s say we want to multiply a growth rate in cell A1 with a range of revenues budgeted for 2013 in cells B1 to B10, and let’s say we wanted to calculate the increase the revenues for 2014 by 10%. How would we do that quickly? First, we would create a formula in cell C1 that multiplied cells A1 (growth rate) by cell B1 (first revenue) like this


To save time, we just want to copy this formula down to cells C2:C10. To keep the reference to cell A1, we need to make this an absolute reference. We of course could add a $-sign before the column reference A and the row reference 1. Using the F4 key allows us to do this much quicker – once we selected cell A1, we just hit the F4 key once (hitting it twice or three times creates mixed references, a fourth time back to the relative reference we started out with). In spreadsheets with a lot of formulas that require several absolute (or mixed) references, the F4 key saves a lot of time.

If you use a Mac, the keyboard shortcut to achieve the same result is CMD-t.

Excel tips – INDEX and MATCH

Here is a link to a very useful exercise on the Excel INDEX and MATCH functions. These functions are useful for looking up data in spreadsheets.