From grocery lists to how we express ourselves, the internet has forever changed everything about modern living. In less than 25 years we have gone from the novelty of electronic mail to email being one of our slowest form of communications. We have forgotten the tedious nature of fax and land lines, we no longer think about what it would mean to not have a phone in our pocket, let alone not a busy signal or a lack of voice mail. Today our expectations are that we can share our ‘status’ or receive someone else’s in a variety of mediums in a variety of ways.
All this, and we are not even broaching the subject of business. The integration of technology into our daily life may have started with its presence in the business world, but it seems at levels of advancement, we have left the work community behind. It is just in the last couple of years we have really started to see the value of adding 1 vs. many and social collaboration to our business ventures. Even the concept of the cloud is just getting its legs.
Now we have finally taken these concepts and integrated them into project management, project collaboration and team work. It is hard to imagine that you would not like to know what your teammates are up to. It is equally hard to believe that 24/7 access to a central repository for all of your collaboration is not something that would greatly improve effectiveness and efficiency.
Let’s take the simplest example of time from point a to point b in a real project scenario. Let’s take this example and examine a timeline of events throughout time. We will start with the drafting of building plans in New York that need to be shared with a developer in Chicago.
1950’s Mailed to the site. 5-7 days to arrive. Any changes require physical mark up. Return of mail and back is at least another 2 weeks back and forth.
1970’s Fax the plans.Takes a couple hours. If they make it through clearly, then changes are physically mocked up. Then they must be completely rewritten or mailed back. Either way another 1-2 weeks.
1990’s Email the editable documents. Received email instantly. Files are downloaded over 3-4 hours. Once downloaded they can be mocked up within the software. Total back and forth 2-3 days.
2010’s Use an online collaboration software with task management, file storage and social communication. Instant access to files and the ability to comment within the system reduces total effort of delivery and rework to under 1 day,
From the 50’s to today we have seen what would take weeks now possibly take hours. This is not the effort involved with creation, but the time between creation and execution. The white space between getting things done. This reduction in white space means that so much more can be accomplished. The absence of white space makes it easier to get from point A to point B. This is the impact of technology on collaboration. It is a good one.