"It's a point of frustration for many companies, but it's also a point of necessity," says Anthony Politano, CEO of MIS DecisionWare, noting that some companies are largely run on huge, complex spreadsheets that only a handful of "spreadsheet jockeys" understand. Politano, for example, knows of one chemical maker that employs four people to consolidate annual sales-projection spreadsheets from 220 sales offices.
While Excel's limit is 65,000 rows, many companies have multiple linked spreadsheets with complex macros. One energy company Politano knows of has 80 linked spreadsheets. Some managers and analysts have built entire careers around being the only people who understand the corporate spreadsheet. "They're like the old-school Cobol programmers," he says.
Nominations from the private and public sectors are being accepted until Feb. 1 at www.misdecisionware.info. A panel of judges, including several industry analysts, will select the winner using a formula that considers a spreadsheet's physical size, business use, technical complexity, and longevity. The winner will receive fame and the choice of a Bose Wave radio/CD player or a portable DVD player.
Note to Santa: The naughty-and-nice list has to be a shoo-in here.