One of the most valuable uses of WinForms spreadsheets is developing programs that work with the data at hand. Limited legacy programs such as Microsoft Excel can accomplish many useful tasks, but in the age of big, fast data, a universal set of parameters may hamper growth. Working with such limited spreadsheets can hinder enterprise end users in their drive to extract meaningful insights from information. The longer data analysis is conducted in a suboptimal way, the more difficult it will be for enterprises to keep pace with their information-centric competitors. Users need to have the tools that help them unlock the value of their data.

On the other hand, users are accustomed to the way that legacy spreadsheet tools function. While they may be aware, to some extent, that these tools can limit productivity or necessitate more laborious analysis, personnel may worry about trying to find their way through a new application. This makes it essential that software developers create a bridge between the old and the new, mixing in the possibilities of WinForms spreadsheet components without deviating too wildly from the applications users have already formed an attachment to.

Expanding the parameters of data
One way to address the need to develop more sophisticated data analysis tools is to show end users how data can function in different ways. This may mean that developers, end users and C-suite executives take a crash course in the meaning of data. Ultimately, a spreadsheet is a tool to help make insights, not a means to an end. Data analysis expert Erin Robbins O'Brien recently observed that imagining data as more than just a spreadsheet can spearhead better insight generation, according to the Holmes report.

"I really like to get away from the idea that data is always a spreadsheet," opined O'Brien. "It could be a conversation with someone I see on the street, that's a data point. The idea that data is just spreadsheet and numbers does the industry a disservice."

Taking a step back to look at the different types of information that can suitability count as "data" can help end users and enterprise software developers work together to incorporate some of the ways people interact with information into future spreadsheets. This way, applications can become more intuitive, conforming more closely to the ways that people interact with information. Generations of spreadsheet use have created a cut-and-dried, unnatural way to interface with data. The limited spreadsheet's longevity can be owed, in part, to the lack of not having another solution available.

Design for data, design for insights
Many WinForms spreadsheet components and controls facilitate smarter data visualizations and binding, which enable querying and compilation to have more long-term usefulness. WatersTechnology contributor Anthony Malakian recently reflected on the need to get away from the Excel-centric enterprise and seize on data aggregation and reporting tools that make insights themselves more valuable. Customization that supports the types of data used and insights needed can accentuate certain features and create a thriving environment for end users to make better decisions.