Benedict Evans wrote about office, messaging and verbs.
That is, the way forward for productivity is probably not to take software applications and document models that were conceived and built in a non-networked age and put them into the cloud, or to make carbon copies of them as web apps. This is no different to using your PC to do the same things you used your typewriter for. And of course that is exactly how a lot of people used their PCs – to start with. Just as today we make web app copies of software models conceived for the floppy disk, so the first PCs were often used to type up memos that were then printed out and sent though internal mail. It took time for email to replace internal mail and even longer for people to stop emailing Word files as attachments. Equally, we went from typing expense forms (with carbon copies) to entering them into a Word doc version of the form, to a dedicated Windows app that looked just like the form, to a web page that looked just like the form – and then, suddenly, someone worked out that maybe you should just take a photo of the receipt. It takes time, but sooner or later we stop replicating the old methods with the new tools and find new methods to fit the new tools.
Sadly, I still come across many instances where people are unable to grasp the point of moving into a digital workflow.
Instead of filling up forms, they type the forms out in Word or Excel and print these out. And then the printed form gets passed to someone, who then scans the form and saves it in their computers. The slightly more tech savvy individuals would fill in the form digitally and send it via email, skipping the printing and scanning steps.
But that still clings onto antiquated notions of having to reproduce a form digitally in Word or Excel. And in many cases, the information in these document files need to be manually transferred into a database. The way forward is to have an online web form that automatically submits the information to the database.
The faster we embrace technology, the faster we progress and improve the workflows.