How to reinvent mobile PLM spreadsheet?

As you probably know, Excel (or spreadsheets) is one of my favorite topics. Despite the multiple efforts of software vendors in PDM, PLM and other enterprise domains, Excel remains very sustainable. Back in 2009, I put my top reasons Why do I like my PLM Excel Spreadsheets? I can confirm, Excel is still the most popular and wide accepted PLM technology in the world.

I can see many changes since that time. Web and online is the next battle space for spreadsheets. Google improved their Spreadsheet application, and it is quite awesome, in my view. Microsoft responded to online competion by providing Office 365. I don’t see PLM vendors reacted much on this.

Another place where spreadsheets are moving fast is mobile applications. The importance of mobile apps is increasing every day. My impression from mobile development in PLM – most of the vendors put a check box. You can see mobile apps announcements done by almost everybody. However, two things were missed – the purpose and the experience. In my view, vendors are missing the point of mobile apps by trying to convert “PLM” to “Mobile”, which is wrong effort. I explained it here – Mobile PLM gold rush. Did vendors miss the point? The main point – mobile applications are context/task oriented. People won’t migrate to iPad and displace their desktop/laptop app. They will use both devices in the right context.

Getting back to mobile and spreadsheets, the following Tech Crunch publication few days YC-Backed Grid Reinvents The Spreadsheet For The Tablet Age. I found it is interesting actually not from the side of business application, but specifically in the context of user experience. Watch the following video for mobile spreadsheet user experience proposed by GRID.

Maestro by Binary Thumb from Josh Leong on Vimeo.

Mobile user experience becomes an important factor behind the adoption of business applications. “Checkbox” strategy won’t work here. The standards for mobile apps are set by companies making consumer software. Take a look on my previous blog for more ideas – What CAD and PLM vendors need to learn about mobile touch interface? I found some interesting examples of mobile apps in SAP mobility center and Autodesk mobile apps. If you can bring more examples, please do so. I’m looking for them.

What is my conclusion? User experience and task orientation. These are two main factors that can make a mobile effort successful. I need to have an app to get my job done. If this is an app to make engineering calculation like ForceEffect by Autodesk or application to make travel expenses approval by SAP, the key factor will be how it does help me to get my tasks done. I can see it as a change in the mind-share. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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