I have been promoting this idea to our clients a lot. I have always know that there are cheap Excel conversion programs out there but they don't do the job of creating buiness components. Well, recently I came across a company that have created the exact same concept 6 years ago. When I found it, I thought, great, that company must be doing really really good (As I believe 80% of all business applications are in some shape or form Excel based). To my suprise, they are actually smaller than my little tiny consulting business.
What does it mean? Does it mean my concept of using Excel to develop business component is wrong?
Upon further research, here is what I think. The concept is not wrong. Otherwise you wouldn't have so many companies trying to create some kind of Excel conversion tools (I found more than 10). The reason none of these solutions become big, I think, is that they all trying to charge for the tool. In order to charge for usage, some of them end up creating locked binary code that the users cannot see and have to use their runtime engne to execute. Being an architect myself, I understand how much people fear about vendor locked-in. So my guess is that when IT sees that the solution is a potential vendor locked-in, they rather code it themselves.
Therefore, in my opinion, in order for this idea to go mainstream, the solution has to be open, portable, and free.