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Home > Excel Dashboards  > 

Will the New Kindle DX Transform
Management Reporting With Excel?


The Kindle DX, from Amazon.com, could transform the delivery of Excel-based
dashboard reports, standard Excel reports, and other types of management
information. Or not.


An Excel dashboard report shown on an Amazon Kindle DX.
Simulated display of an Excel dashboard report shown on an Amazon Kindle DX.

by Charley Kyd
June, 2009

Last month, a writer from the Wall Street Journal emailed me to ask whether I thought the new Kindle DX is worth its $489 price.

I wrote that it could be, but not necessarily for the reasons that Amazon suggests. I told him, in fact, that Kindle could transform management reporting.

Because my response missed his deadline, he didn't include it in his story. Even so, I think the reporting idea is too important to drop.

I'm only speculating here. As I write this, Kindle DX has just started to ship, so I've never used one. But the Kindle DX's potential for management reporting is intriguing.
 

Key Features of Kindle DX for Excel Users

To see why the Kindle DX offers a very interesting possibility, think about your Excel reports as you read through this list of the DX's features:

●  Its diagonal display distance is 9.7 inches (24.6 centimeters). This is only about 10% to 15% smaller than the printed area of a normal printed page. 

●  It weighs less than 1.2 pounds (.54 kilograms).

●  Although it displays only gray-scale text and images, the display appears to be as readable as a printed page.

●  Amazon says it has a storage capacity of 3,500 books.

●  The Kindle DX can use PDF, TXT, and Mobipocket file formats.  Only Mobipocket files can be annotated. But DX customers can use a free utility, Mobipocket Creator, Publisher Edition, from Mobipocket.com to convert .txt, .doc, .html, and .pdf files into that format.

●  It can download both custom and commercial content from the Internet, through email, and by USB cable.

●  Amazon says you can read for up to 4 days on a single charge of the battery with the wireless feature turned on, and you can read for up to two weeks with wireless turned off.


How the Kindle DX Could Transform Management Reporting with Excel

For excellent reasons, Excel is the most widely used program in the world for reporting and analysis. However, Excel has two limitations that Business Intelligence (BI) and other software solutions attempt to cure.

One limitation is that standalone Excel reports and analyses have a difficult time working with large amounts of data. PivotTables offer some help, and Excel-friendly OLAP offers even more. But now, Excel 2010 will offer a major new option: Gemini. This is a free add-in that will allow desktop computers to slice and dice 20 million rows of data from Excel. Gemini could help to cure Excel's data limitation.

Excel's other limitation is its display technology. Most Excel reports and analyses still are printed rather than displayed on a screen. Yes, Microsoft does offer SharePoint, which allows users to publish Excel reports to the web. But because SharePoint requires significant IT support and additional spending, its not a practical solution for most Excel users.

"I have used executive dashboards created by Charley Kyd at ExcelUser.com for over two years to consolidate and proactively manage project measures against plan and forecast for multiple research and development sites around the world.

Each of the dashboards is published in a PDF format to allow a historical reference by project by site and is available to multiple users to view in the common PDF format.

The visually intuitive reporting designed by Charley Kyd and the PDF repository work very well together to quickly review activities and learn from historical trends."

James Clark 
Finance Director
Bausch & Lomb

So here's how Kindle DX could offer a major benefit to ordinary Excel users...

When your Excel report is done, simply save or print it as a pdf file. If you use New Excel, choose Office Button, Save As, PDF or XPS. If you use Classic Excel, Google offers many 3rd-party software options when you search:
free print to pdf.

As an aside, saving Excel reports to pdf is an excellent strategy even if you don't use Kindle, as Bausch & Lomb's Finance Director describes in his note at the right.

If your managers don't need annotation, they can download your pdf file to their Kindles. Otherwise, you can use Mobipocket Creator to convert your pdf to a file format that does allow annotation with a DX.

Because Kindle DX can store as many as 3,500 books, your managers should be able to receive your "printed" Excel reports anywhere in the world, store a massive number of reports, and then read the reports anywhere.

If everything works as advertised, your Kindle DX reports will be as easy to create as printed Excel reports, but more convenient to read.


Warnings and Limitations

One potential concern about the DX is that it offers no security. It's just like a printed report in that regard.

Another potential concern is that the DX was created for reading books and newspapers. (The Wall Street Journal, for example, now offers a Kindle subscription.) Therefore, in the spirit of Murphy's Law, the DX software could lack a feature that would make your management reports much easier to organize and read.

But even so, the potential for Kindle DX is too intriguing to ignore. It could offer Excel users the ability to distribute Excel reports to anyone, anywhere, in seconds.

If you get a Kindle DX, please give this reporting idea a try and then let me know whether you think it has merit. If I get enough results, I'll post a summary of them.


 


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