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Will Tablets and Readers Transform Management Reporting with Excel?

Tablets and readers could transform the delivery of Excel-based dashboards and other reports.

by Charley Kyd, MBA
Microsoft Excel MVP, 2005-2014
The Father of Spreadsheet Dashboard Reports

A reader with an Excel dashboard
A mock-up of the Kindle DX displaying an Excel dashboard in color. 
When the Kindle DX was introduced in 2009, a writer from the Wall Street Journal emailed me to ask whether I thought the new Kindle DX was worth its $489 price.

I replied that it could be, but not necessarily for the reasons that Amazon suggested in its ads. 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 thought the reporting idea was too important to drop. So I posted an article about how intriguing the Kindle DX potential was for management reporting with Excel.

The Kindle DX never became much of a platform for management reporting...nor, apparently, for any other purpose. But today, portable devices that can display PDF documents continue to have a significant role to play for Excel reporting.

Key Features of Tablets and Readers for Excel Users

To see why larger tablets and readers offer a very interesting possibility, think about your Excel reports as you read through this short list of common features:

●  Their diagonal display distance is about 10 inches (25 centimeters). This is only about 10% to 15% smaller than the printed area of a normal printed page. To illustrate, the Microsoft Surface, the Amazon Fire HD 10, and Apple iPad all have screens of about this size.

●  They weigh just over a pound (.54 kilograms)...about the same as, well, a pound of butter.

●  They display full color, of course.

●  Many can receive, store, and display PDF files easily. But check before you buy.

How Tablets and Readers 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 a significant limitation in its technology for displaying completed reports.

It's likely that 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 IT support and additional spending, its not a practical solution for most Excel users.

"I have used executive dashboards created by Charley Kyd at 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 tablets could offer a major benefit to ordinary Excel users...

When your Excel report is done, simply save  it as a pdf file.

As an aside, saving Excel reports to pdf is an excellent strategy even if you don't use a 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 tablets or readers. Otherwise, you can use third-party apps to convert your PDF to a file format that does allow annotation.

Because tablets can store thousands of files, your managers should be able to receive your PDF Excel reports anywhere in the world, store a massive number of reports, and then read the reports anywhere.

The potential for tablet report is too intriguing to ignore. It could offer Excel users the ability to distribute Excel reports to anyone, anywhere, in seconds.

Give it a try.

Tags: #excel, #pdf, #kindle, #dx, #reporting, #tablets, #readers, #surface, #fire, #ipad

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