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Convenience and Accessibility over High-Tech Features August 24, 2009

Posted by Darwin in applicant tracking, collaboration, enterprise software, small business, technology.
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1148064_metal_nutsWired Magazine recently published an article that describes the current ‘low-tech’ revolution that is reshaping the technology sector. The article highlights several recent examples of how the ‘quality’ of technology is being redefined to favor accessibility over high-tech features.

Wired describes the MP3 as the classic example: the music format first broke ground as an accessible and portable file that users could share and publish online. Music aficionados and record companies denounced the MP3, saying that it provided inferior sound quality to the CD. What the music industry didn’t understand was that ‘quality’ was in the eye of the beholder; internet users around the world used MP3s because of their accessibility, which was more important to them than an apparent decrease in sound fidelity. Today, the MP3 has surpassed the CD because of its convenience.

The Wired Magazine article goes on to point out several other products and sectors that are riding the ‘low tech’ wave, from point-and-shoot Flip Video Cameras to the easily accessible Google Documents. Each of these products could be considered inferior to their competitors in a side-by-side feature comparison, however, they have proven successful due to their lack of bells and whistles. I’d like to take this opportunity to share several other unmentioned products and industries that are benefiting from convenience over features.  Feel free to add to the list if you think of anything else.

1. Documentary Film

The documentary is the polar opposite of the special effects-laden blockbuster movies that we became accustomed to in the 90s.   In the place of A-listers and huge explosions, documentary film utilizes real people and relatively simple editing to tell a convincing story. In the recent decade, documentary has proved not only to be a durable art form but also a cost-effective box office draw.

Films like ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ grossed huge numbers and cost a fraction of what a typical blockbuster takes to produce. Documentary film is on the rise and represents a low-tech and efficient way to connect the audience with relevant stories. Off-shoots of documentary, like reality TV, have also proven to be incredibly successful despite the cliche formatting and relatively low production value.

2. ‘Back to the Basics’ Sports Philosophy

In the past decade we’ve seen championship teams arise not based on their huge star power but on teamwork and a philosophy in succeeding at ‘the basics.’ Whether it be getting that extra base on a sac-fly or finding four different receivers with an array of screen passes; the little things are what have been winning games.

The New York Yankees, with an all-star-studded lineup and astronomical pay grade, have failed in many respects to live up to their ten year potential due to a lack of concentration on the details.   The Yankees are akin to a high-def. video camera that touts numerous features, but lacks the basics to make it convenient and usable.

3. Applicant Tracking

In the world of corporate recruiting, there is a complex maze of collaboration and applicant tracking steps that proceed a hire. Many software solutions for this in-depth process offer a wealth of features to improve a company’s ability to track potential job applicants. These many bells and whistles often only slow the process though.

Some software developers took a different route and decided to cut out the extra features and instead concentrate on accessibility and collaboration: the basics for a more efficient applicant tracking solution. These simple but convenient solutions are quickly making headway due to their ‘get-to-the-point’ nature and ‘anytime, anywhere’ online accessibility.

4. Twitter

In a world where we have social networks for every possible niche, many laden with high tech features to ‘increase social communication,’ Twitter has proven again that simplicity is king.  Essentially, you can follow, be followed and tweet. Twitter is successful because it has latched onto our basic need to ‘publicize’ even the most menial events of our lives.

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The Future of Collaboration July 28, 2009

Posted by Darwin in applicant tracking, business software, collaboration, enterprise software, futurism, technology.
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collaborationCollaboration:  it’s a term that suddenly became trendy with the rise of new cutting-edge web 2.0 software solutions.  Enterprise collaboration is a type of back-and-forth communication to promote innovation or take a product to the next level.  Collaboration is the glue that holds many businesses together, allowing owners, managers, employees, clients and customers to see eye-to-eye.

Back in the day, collaboration involved calling someone up and speaking on the phone, but nowadays it usually only takes a few mouse clicks to get a point across.  New web applications that span various industries are taking collaboration to a new level, setting a new bar in ease-of-use and efficiency.  The future of enterprise collaboration is also promising, with the potential to streamline and personalize data transfer.

I’d like to take this opportunity to take a look at the present and future of cutting-edge collaboration technology. Where does enterprise collaborative technology stand today? And what sort of advancements can we expect at the turn of the 22nd century?

Today, much of the front line collaborative technology is built on the trail that social networking cleared. Although social networking specifically refers to online communities like MySpace and Facebook, it also can be used as a broad term for any sort of ‘social’ collaboration.  In the past, technology most often trickled down from high-tech business and government projects to mass consumer products (like the conception of the Internet itself). Social networking curiously took the opposite route, starting as a consumer tool for teens and geeks and slowly re-inventing itself as business communication technology.

Not only do businesses around the world utilize their own proprietary collaborative networks, they also are starting to adopt consumer Web 2.0 tools. Google Documents is a great example of this.   It began as Google’s anti-Microsoft word document processing application, but has since evolved into a collaborative tool that businesses and consumers use to share data.

From the Google Docs site: “Google Apps lets us centralize and consolidate information, simplifying our company’s internal communication process and giving us better control over our business.” Alejandra Cifuentes – IT Manager for Takami, Restaurant and Food Services

Various other collaborative software tools allow businesses in every niche industry to efficiently share information across their network of employees.  Newton Software is another great example of an innovator.  As a developer of applicant tracking and recruiting software solutions, one of Newton’s primary goals is to simplify the line of communication between recruiters and hiring managers.  By making this collaborative process more efficient, the whole hiring process benefits.

So what does the future of collaboration hold? The Internet is such a powerful communication tool that it’s hard to imagine any sort of collaboration existing outside of our current ‘www infrastructure.’   Think ahead to when the ‘www’ may no longer be relevant. Perhaps instead of domains and urls, we instead will be accessing information via thought command.  Imagine accessing sites and information just as you currently access your memories.

Speaking of memories, want to play back that first kiss and share it with your closest friends?  Simply access it via your embedded neural chip and send it up  into the cloud, where your buddies can access it and relive the memory along with you.  On the business side of things, meetings can once again get up-close and personal.   Meet, greet and collaborate wherever and whenever you want.  Your client likes the beach?  Set up your meeting on two solitary hammocks in Fiji.   Or maybe have the meeting round-table style in the great hall of a European castle.

Although the future of collaboration might sound a bit intimidating to you and I, it will certainly be commonplace for the coming generations.