It is very challenging to stay up to date with office technology given how quickly things change these days, but some companies struggle more than others to keep up. Do you want to be the middle manager who dictates a memo so your secretary can type it up on her word processor before faxing it to a client? Or would you rather be the technology guru who conceptualizes an infographic that demonstrates your company's process cycle before uploading it to your wiki via the cloud? Let's meet the future halfway and look at five office technologies that are dead as a doornail and should be discarded at the earliest opportunity.
- Fax, Printers and Paper. Although it's still not been adopted as widely as imagined, cloud computing is having a dramatic effect on sustainable business. Reducing paper and energy consumption is a positive effect of cloud computing as businesses get rid of wasteful fax machines that constantly kick out CO2 and waste thousands of sheets of paper. Ditching the old-fashioned fax machine and engaging a cloud fax system saves paper, energy, time and resources, not to mention being largely maintenance-free. Printer cartridges, meanwhile, take hundreds of years to decompose, so why not move to a recyclable printer service that can better use what ink you need?
- Tape recorders. In an age when Siri can order you a pizza, why on earth would you still use tape recorders? Tape recorders are an artifact from an earlier age when journalists, lawyers, and other professionals needed them to capture the written word with precision. These days digital recorders can provide a clear recording that can be digitally archived, shared via the cloud, and transcribed with automated software that can transfer the audio file to the written word with immense precision. Let tape recorders go the way of VHS tapes, floppy disks and typewriters.
- The Rolodex. This item still shows up regularly in surveys that show which outdated technologies worker bees would like to ditch. It's an odd outlier given that the rolodex hasn't been a useful tool since Herb Tarlek was selling ads on WKRP in Cincinnati. Fully enabled contact databases, advanced email systems and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions are a much better way to organize your contacts and relate to your customers than collecting business cards.
- Desktop computers. If your company is strategic and nimble in its operations, consider ditching your old, heavy, and slow desktop computers and instead moving your employees to a thin client solution. These interfaces keep all your applications, data and memory in a secure location on a remote server where they can be accessed at any time not only via a traditional computer but also through tablets, smart phones, and other nimble tools.
- Desks. We are long past the days of Mad Men when men were men, ties were boring, and offices had a door. With cloud-based technology, smart phones, advanced remote portals, Skype, and virtual offices that can be opened and closed at will, the only real reason to maintain a brick-and-mortar office is either to a) impress clients or b) foster collaboration among employees. If your office is nimble, your technology fast and efficient, and your employees slotted into discrete roles, there's no reason to make them sit in meetings or wait for 5 o'clock to tick by when they could be generating revenue, engaging with clients or customers, and staying happy in their jobs.
- Dial-Up Internet. No one misses the days when your 2600 baud modem had to fizzle and crack its way down your telephone line to draw back ones and zeroes at a snail's pace. While it still may be a viable technology for places like rural schools, there's no reason to use a slow, painfully outdated technology when there are much more robust and cost-efficient solutions available. Plus, you won't have the added trouble of filling up your phone line when customers, clients, suppliers and other important constituents of your business may be trying to get in touch with you.