Technology Review: Then and Now

The start of a new year usually signifies a time for reflection on where we’ve been and where we’re headed, and nowhere is that disparity more glaringly apparent than in the technology sector. A decade ago, a business traveler had to collect receipts, pull up Excel and spend an afternoon keying up an expense report to cover the cost of doing business for her company. Today, she can enter that information while sipping a latte in a Munich café and have the expense report awaiting her manager’s approval before returning to her hotel. Thanks to technology, we’re now always connected with the world around us. While that can be both a blessing and a curse, it’s revolutionizing the way we do business. The ability to be mobile, to have all the computer you need in the palm of your hand and all the storage you need without a legion of IT staff and a room full of equipment, is becoming so commonplace that we forget such conveniences didn’t exist just a little over a decade ago. In the spirit of the new year, we’re going to take a look back at the ways in which technology has so altered the way we work and live in an effort to discern where we’re heading.

In an incredibly short amount of time, we’ve evolved from needing to be stationed at a computer to having almost total freedom of mobility no matter where we are. Not too long ago, we had to lug around our bulky laptops and physically plug them into an internet source in order to work away from an office cubicle. Cell phones were expensive, lacked many of even the most basic features of today’s devices, and were more akin to carrying around a book than a large credit card. We’ve evolved from an 8-5 world to always on, always connected, all due to advances in mobile technology. 4G LTE networks allow us to send and retrieve large amounts of information in mere seconds. Our phones are now mobile offices, multimedia centers, communication specialists and electronic secretaries; they allow us to take pictures, store files, make purchases and ask for directions. They have fundamentally changed the way we do business. Whether you’re a C-level executive checking spend metrics or a warehouse manager tracking shipments, advanced mobility provides the means to stay connected with what’s important and offers a level of control and visibility that simply wasn’t available ten years ago.

It’s hard to believe, but the ever-shrinking mobile phone now has more computing power than the first space shuttle. Computer size and storage ability have changed dramatically over the last decade. Companies are transitioning away from large rooms devoted to computers and other IT equipment now that cloud-based services and storage options have become more secure, cost effective options. We now have the capability of capturing, processing and storing billions of terabytes of data, something that would have been a monolithic (and expensive) task only a few years ago. Paper has truly become a relic; business, both personal and professional, has become digitized and accessible anywhere, anytime. As more government entities and private organizations turn to automation and cloud-based business processes, the need for paper is declining, and subsequently the expense of handling, transporting and storing it is being eliminated. With that comes improved efficiency, more productive labor and the chance to funnel that excess time and money into core business operations. These changes are allowing organizations to more easily realize their vision, all while creating a better work experience for employees and a better customer experience for the consumer.

Without a doubt, we have the internet to thank for most of the technology that has prompted such a startling evolution in our daily work lives. The concept of sharing information on a global scale transformed the personal computer from a solitary “island” into an interlinked archipelago, completely reforming how the world does business. A brand can now be a household name without a storefront. Retrieving information from last year’s e-mail takes only a few keystrokes rather than a hunt through a filing cabinet. The ability to compile real-time data has paved the way for advanced reporting, analytics and the means for companies to gain a level of insight into their operations that guides strategy and decision-making. The future of technology is being led by the endless possibilities that have opened up since the inception of the World Wide Web. The technological needs of business are now relatively straightforward and within reach – they want on-demand access to their data, assistance in making sense of it all, support from intuitive, efficient applications and devices that are as mobile as they are. While it might not have been possible to meet each of these demands ten years ago, technology has caught up to this global pace and the future is certain to bring more advances that achieve these goals in a cheaper, faster, more effective way.

Thankfully, the technology is now available to help companies secure their place in a paperless, data-driven era. It just takes vision and willingness to evolve, a resolution as an organization not to be relegated to the past, but to move forward with the technology of now. That’s a resolution Apptricity keeps every year as we empower organizations to step beyond the past and transform themselves into leaders of tomorrow.

Apptricity Corporation is the provider of Jetstream which includes e-Procurement, Financial Productivity and Supply Chain Management solutions.

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