New Era of Collaborative, Real- Time Communication Devices
Certainly Microsoft Office hinted at collaborative, interactive products when the suite debuted in 1988. Suddenly, our productivity tools— pens, typewriters, contact paper— were centralized across a digital platform with novel time savers like copy/paste and the ability to print multiple copies of a document. Still, the status quo for organization was a hodgepodge of papers, binders and sticky notes. Productivity tools over the past two decades have taken shape as fax machines, speakerphones, word processing applications, email, instant messaging and IP telephony, but never before have we had access to such high-quality, easily accessible collaboration and organizational tools. We are absolutely in the Golden Age of productivity, and it will only get brighter from here.
While early adopters are hurling accolades at these shiny new productivity tools, a majority of us are still using a standard Microsoft Office suite and churning through hundreds of emails a day. With progress comes a faction of resistance, especially when it relates to something so personal as organization and interaction. But we would do ourselves a favour if we stepped back, took stock of our habits and made a leap into the future of productivity.
A number of enabling technologies have become mainstream in the past 10 years: ubiquitous connectivity, affordable and powerful mobile devices, cheap and limitless storage, and fast and reliable internal and external search. Cloud-based applications are familiar even to those of us still using Microsoft Office XP. By now, most of us have used in both personal and professional settings Google Drive, Box, OneDrive or another storage platform. Our smart phones are constant companions at home and at work.
"We are absolutely in the Golden Age of productivity, and it will only get brighter from here"
It’s now much easier to work remotely when using a cloud-based application to access your content from anywhere. These tools also encourage collaboration, as anyone with access to the document can comment or make edits in real time. Office 365 gives enterprises access to email, word processing, presence, instant messaging, storage and more on every employee’s device. Quip and Slack are next generation collaboration and file-sharing apps that incorporate documents, spreadsheets, deadlines, chat and more in a simple interface—no more emailing documents back and forth or chatting separately. Everything related to your project lives in the same realm and real-time communication is recorded for later reference.
For those of us needing to work on presentations while mobile, Prezi is an unbelievable tool. Like these other productivity apps, your “prezis” are kept up to date regardless of which device you used to create them. When it comes to voice calling, video chat and P2P file sharing, open-source project WebRTC enables real-time audio, video and text communication between users by just using their browsers—no need for additional apps or plug-ins—and provides a higher level of security than most commercial telephony services on the market.
As cloud-based applications proliferate, we need to make it easy for employees to access them securely. An effort to streamline the process and keep it safe is being made with single sign-on (SS0) applications for the workforce. An example is Okta, an identity platform that permits a user to enter a single name and password to access multiple business applications, minimizing password fatigue and avoiding the issue of lost or forgotten passwords while keeping the company in control of sensitive information.
As we tumble toward the next step-up in productivity, we will see our apps working better together. The best tools will be functionally excellent and collaborate with one another, fostering smoother and more efficient experiences for us, the users. We are looking square into the face of a new era of collaborative, real-time communication devices. Yesteryear’s Rolodex belongs in that antique shop—and we belong in the future.