What role have spreadsheets played in the “evolution of procurement technology?”

Posted on January 13, 2023


Matthias Gutzmann created what he referred to as an “oversimplified image to illustrate the last 30 years of #procurementtechnology evolution (see below graphic).”

You can also access his LinkedIn post and share your thoughts as I did through the following link. However, I thought it would be a good idea to share my thoughts with you here, and at the end ask you a couple of questions.

Timeline posts like these remind me of how long I have been around. 😉

I will bypass tales of punch cards and CPM-based PCs. I will even pass over the MAI Basic Four – which, by the way, was the beginning of the Industry Specific Application era that was the precursor to the evolution of the technology framework or timeline you reference in the graph.

If we just focus on the procurement profession and technology, I think that 1979 was a pivotal moment in our industry. Why?

It was in 1979 that I was introduced to Visicalc – the very first spreadsheet. While Visicalc is no more, according to 2022 statistics, “67.4% of supply chain managers use Excel spreadsheets as a management tool.” Even the Energizer Bunny doesn’t have that kind of staying power.

This got me to thinking what role do spreadsheets play in the digital age? Are they a help or a hinderance? Do they impede end-user adoption, or can they strategically facilitate user buy-in? Or are spreadsheets an outlier anomaly that we will still be talking about 10 or 20 years from now?


Posted in: Commentary