The emergence of Pokemon Go has drawn a lot of attention to the potential of augmented reality and other technologies that seem to blend the real and virtual worlds. These ideas have been floating around for a while, but it looks like practical uses are being found that will have an impact on all of us, beyond gaming. And they take the market by storm. I was out to dinner with my daughters and when we left the restaurant they started chasing the Pokémon and it ended up that there were over 50 kids running around in virtual world. (Some not even looking for cars when crossing the street!)
In an interesting podcast recently, Michael Wong of Genea made the point that commercial real estate’s adoption of technology was in large part a reaction to the economic downturn in 2007-8.
Data entry has made up a huge part of how companies have done business since computers were invented. It also happens to be a huge time suck. What’s the quickest way to drive someone crazy, especially in an office setting? Distractions and hiccups caused by inefficient processes (like data entry). But, there is newfound hope, especially given the recent introduction of modern technological solutions. Thanks to the application programming interfaces (APIs) and virtual private networks (VPNs) offered in the present day, we are no longer bound by the simplistic, inefficient, end-all be-all data entry processes.
Let’s talk about legacy systems. In my opinion, the problem is contained within the term itself: legacy. Personally, the first thing I think of when I hear this word is outdated. But, for the sake of fairness, let’s go with a word that connotes less bias. How about rigidity? Legacy systems are old, fragmented and outdated software programs that are preventing companies from evolving. They require the same data points to be superfluously entered four or five times across the network in order to keep everything up to date. The logic is obviously flawed. As we all know, time is money, and you can’t afford to be wasting either.
If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning, you’ll know already that I’ve been writing ad nauseam about the increased flexibility and continuity made possible by cloud computing (SAS). I hope that you keep humoring me, because I will continue to beat this dead horse ragged due to the nugget of truth contained within. Yet, in the end (like with all forms of technology), you will need to be able to accurately distinguish what your team’s strengths and weaknesses are and how you work best together first in order to properly outfit your company with the newest gadget or software that’s going to make it more productive.
For example, when choosing between ERPs and disparate systems, you need to first determine if the uniformity offered by ERPs is a priority, or if maintaining optimum functionality for all of the different tools at your team member’s disposal is more important. ERPs can put your company and the potential for maximizing their productivity in a box, because of how much time is spent customizing all of the different functionalities in order so that they are in line with one another. In the end, there really aren’t any one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to workplace technology. So, if you’re looking to have the best tools in place above all else, than disparate systems are more conducive to your needs, due to their flexibility.
In the end, no matter how you cut it, data entry blows. Now that we’ve acknowledged it, the next step revolves around to what degree as a manager are you going to let that have an impact your team’s productivity? The solutions are out there, the onus is now on you to research your options and determine what will realistically work best for your team. We are entering a new day and age of information gathering and data mining. The best way to achieve maximum results with data is to minimize mistakes and issues of the initial data entry process. So, think outside of the box, and get moving. You don’t want to equate a “time suck” into a “you suck.”
While there are many roles that new technology has assumed in our workplaces today, in my opinion, one of the most intriguing consequences of modern technology is how it has suddenly made everything much more quantifiable. In past blog posts, I have written at length about how technology has helped to improve workflow, collaboration and visibility amongst team members, therefore enhancing the daily operations of any business that is using these new tools effectively. Going one step further, and as a result of all of the improvement in the aforementioned areas, team members are not only able to work more productively, but their managers are also able to do their jobs much better as well. For instance, let’s use the same parameters as the ones I referenced above. Working in the cloud has ushered today’s workforce into a more collaborative, more transparent, more organized, and much more FUN work environment than has ever existed previously. Team members can all work on the same project, at the same time, using the exact same tools, but from completely different locations!!! Finally, we’re deconstructing the real estate silo effect! They have access to all of the same information, can monitor the work that their fellow teammates contribute as soon as it is completed, and can devise strategies on the best way to proceed moving forward; all as a team.
Now, this is all well and good for the members of a team, but it also benefits the managers (coaches) of these teams as well. For example, gone are the days where team members are relegated to their offices and only drudged up on the occasional basis. In the world of the cloud and collaboration, you’re able to produce and track results all the time, even when you’re not in the office. A coach (manager) can pull up the status of a project anywhere on his/her mobile phone and know in an instant how the team is doing, what kind of help the team needs, what kind of progress is being made, etc.
Now, the coach can be way more proficient in assisting his/her team because they’re equipped with the proper information that they need. This new level of visibility enables them to do that. Bill Parcells had game film, real estate operations now has game film, allowing us to see what we need to see as the coaches of the team. Because of the increased transparency technology offers us, we’re actually given the license to coach, instead of just passively “monitoring” our team members. We can effectively coach their workflow, recognize each member’s strengths and weaknesses, and adjust accordingly on the fly (because that’s where the strength of working in the cloud derives from: flexibility)!
So, thanks to technology in the cloud, we can begin to bid farewell to menial, ridiculous tasks and wastes of time. We have tools that have equipped us with the ability to drive our decision making with the aid of real data. The technology has now put the burden on us to coach more effectively.