The technologies that have passed us by…
For the first time in a long time somebody has asked me for our FAX number. It caught me so off guard that I had to fumble about trying to find it. And as I did so I suddenly realised I didn’t even know where the FAX machine was these days…I couldn’t recall seeing it lately.
Then came the light bulb moment. We ditched our FAX machine when we moved offices in 2013. We can still receive faxes but now they come in to a PC and get emailed on.
It hardly seems 5 minutes ago (it was actually 30 years almost to the day) that I used a FAX machine for the first time. And now they seem almost extinct. Gone to the same resting place as the golf ball typewriter and the Telex machine – devices many of our younger Chiumento team members have probably never seen let alone used.
And that got me thinking about all the other technologies that have been and gone (almost) in my working lifetime. VHS video leaps to mind, along with floppy disks. And those strange repro contraptions that used methylated spirits in the days before photocopiers. Today they seem archaic but in the not so distant past they were every day office essentials.
So what’s next for the scrap yard? Desktop PCs are hanging on in there (just) but laptops and even more so tablets are now the order of the day. GPS navigation devices – which we all seemed to want for Xmas just a few short years ago – seem to be on the way out as people use the in-built guidance in their now very clever smart phones.
Well how about meeting rooms? They aren’t a technology – but they are a business tool we’ve grown up with. Can we imagine a world without them?
For the first time I am beginning to think I can. A bit like vinyl records and calculators, I don’t think they will disappear but we will use far fewer of them. Why? Because online collaboration will continue to grow and before long may well become the order of the day.
You see you no longer need to be in the same room as someone to work with them effectively. As someone who works remotely I’ve seen the technology improve dramatically in recent years. And increasingly, especially with Gen Y and Gen Z who have been brought up on Skype, it is second nature.
No longer do you need to incur the cost of travel – or the ecological damage that can cause. You can put the best people together to solve a problem irrespective of location. Not be hamstrung by the limited range of people who can get to a fixed point on a fixed day.
Many businesses have adopted that idea already. HR has too – it is called e-learning. How many less classroom hours are delivered now than a decade ago? That’s lots of meeting rooms standing empty.
Face-to-face no longer means being physically in the same space. Globalisation has seen to that. Colleagues network internationally all the time – and very successfully. They tackle complex, emotive and sensitive issues without ever meeting.
Later this year Chiumento will be launching its new online collaboration platform – Chiumento 24. It’s making us think hard about how we best apply technology to everything we do. A Chiumento without meeting rooms? Who knows, perhaps one day.