Friday, February 24, 2012

How Did We Do This Before

We sometimes take for granted or don't even notice the incredible speed we are able to communicate, coordinate and collaborate today. How would we have done these things before?

Several times this week I worked on projects with people from one end of the globe to the other. For example, one project involved, among other things, the creation of a set of documents, guidelines, promotional materials and the development of a web site. No two people working on this were ever in the same location. Some are literally an ocean away.

But regardless of the separation by time and geography, we have incredible tools at our fingertips which allowed us to work as if we were together. Of course, in the past we would have used express mail, phone calls, fax or perhaps email with attachments to move content and graphics around for discussion.

But this week meetings were held using high quality, multiple party video conferencing. In these meetings it is possible to "share" your screen so others can see what you have on your computer. Documents, stored in the cloud, could be co-written, edited and shared among team members without having to send them around.

Moreover, simply by granting administrative rights, several people were able to contribute to the design and content of the web site. It can all happen synchronously or asynchronously over the Internet.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the tools we use is the fact that virtually all of them are free. From any Windows, Linux or Apple computer, desktop or notebook, the tools can be used. All the files and the web site are accessible. In addition, several mobile devices such as an iPad, Android phone or Apple iPhone could be used to coordinate, review and join in the video meetings.

If you can undertake a project using tools that cost nothing and accelerate your progress to near light speed, why would you ever work any other way? Yet many people still cling to the old ways because, well, that's the way we have always done it. As IT professionals we encounter this attitude all the time.

My view is businesses are in for a rude awakening. Beyond the already overwhelming trend of employees bringing their own devices to work, which is posing quite a challenge to old school company managers, they have yet to realize this new generation of digital natives have a whole new style of working. They are always connected, sharing, helping and communicating with one another.

Unlike the traditional regimented and serial approach to projects, the new generation networks, crowd-sources, collaborates and shares questions and answers continuously and at the speed of light.

Your company firewall doesn't have a chance.

Captain Joe

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