Although accountants have used physical spreadsheets for hundreds of years, the revolution of computerised self-service tools has been on the rise since the “Tale of VisiCalc”, an interactive visible calculator invention by Daniel Bricklin and Bob Frankston in the late 70s.
VisiCalc laid the foundation for Lotus 1-2-3, which established itself as a data presentation package as well as a complex calculation tool that integrated charting, plotting and database capabilities. It was also the first spreadsheet vendor to introduce naming cells, cell ranges and spreadsheet macros in the early 80s. Microsoft Excel was the next milestone in response to computerised self-services tools in the mid-80s. Self-service analytics as a need is in fact no stranger.
Most aspects of people’s lives are inundated with self-service alternatives. Companies are more frequently offering alternatives to “do it yourself”. Examples include airline check-in, automated teller machines for banking, public vending machines for a quick snack, as well as kiosks for settling shopping mall parking fees – all of which have enjoyed high adoption around the globe. Their success in adoption has been attributed to the ease-of-use of the self-service terminals and portals. Many companies have seen greater cost savings in their support costs, as well as improved service delivery due to these self-service alternatives.