However, the problem with custom-made ERP
software (or how they are typically developed) is that adapting them to new processes and ideas is typically slower and requires "real" programmers, where as systems like Excel that empower people without programming experience to model their processes, is much more dynamic and adaptable to needs of the business.
This is something that I'm currently working on.
The problem isn't Excel - it's lack of standards and precision in financial and business software. If you build a new ERP that replaces Excel, but lets users modify the algorithms, then you will have the exact same issue as you'd have with Excel. The slower adaptation to new processes and ideas is a good thing as it means that these new processes are going to be specced correctly and hopefully tested to some degree. It's not okay for a financial institution to save a bit of time and money on their software and put client's life savings and public tax money at risk.
Of course, this is all very idealistic, and I personally have no doubt that Excel spreadsheet hacks are here to stay. Idealism will always fall down if a few bucks can be made.
I disagree. Most businesses need more agility and experimentation, not less. There is a huge spectrum of businesses. It would be ridiculous to say to a startup that you need to experiment less and put safeguards to a place, so that you don't make huge losses of revenue. There are lot of traditional businesses in which downside can be guarded easily (retail, many sales organizations) but finding better ways to run the machine can give significant edge.
Most ERPs and Excel-sheet apps don't model automatic stock trading, and don't move billions of dollars without safeguards in place. Rather, they model and assist in existing human processes and the sad fact is that the ERP software is the stumbling point for rapid experimentation.
That is why Excel is so popular.
Isn't that the point though - the "RP" in "ERP" is "Resource Planning" so they really are mainly focused on process oriented manufacturing or services.
If you don't need the "RP" bit of an ERP then aren't you really just left with a financials package?