5 Work Technologies on the Way Out

March 23, 2017 Marcus Varner

There is little doubt technology improves the workplace. From the wheel to the printing press to the telephone and internet, each time there’s a new invention, people find a way to make it part of improving work quality and productivity.

But as great as this is, humans also have a tendency to hold onto technology in the workplace long after it has outlived its usefulness.


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Companies that refuse to move forward and adopt newer tech as it comes along will negatively impact the effectiveness of their teams and, ultimately, their bottom line.

So consider this article a “911” on your pager. Put down your newspaper, take your rotary phone off the hook, and read on to find out what tech is on the way out and what you can do about it.

1. Email

In 1994, email was a miracle of technology. Now it’s become a necessary evil. It may never completely go away, but it has lost its perch atop the list of most useful work technologies.

Email used to be the “it” technology because it was the only option outside of phones and fax machines that allowed people to communicate a message and send documents quickly.

Today, it is one of the most overused, unproductive, and deceptive ways to manage work. One third of people would rather clean their toilets than clean out their email inboxes.

Not only are there far better ways to have quick conversations (Slack, Skype) and share documents (Google Drive, Dropbox), email might be the worst way to communicate about whether or not work projects are actually getting done.

Visibility is terrible in email, even with the liberal use of features such as CC. When asked what gets in the way of their work, 43 percent of office workers listed “excessive emails” as a main culprit.

Because of the visibility issue, email is also especially bad for collaboration. Project management, approvals, and work requests are terrible to manage through email, but most of us do it anyway. Today, there are work management software tools such as Workfront that do each of these functions and more better than email.

Like we’ve said before, the problem is that email suffers from an identity crisis. Sure, email is a worthy substitute for snail mail and faxing. We just got used to making it do everything for us simply because it was there. But its time in the spotlight has come and gone.

2. Spreadsheets

Ah, spreadsheets, the modern wonder of electronic lined paper. Yes, it can be a very effective tool for a small team in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. But for today’s enterprises with large creative, IT, or other projects that need constant updating and reporting on resources, timelines, and capacity, spreadsheets can’t do the heavy lifting.

Spreadsheets are a subtle enemy to productivity because they seem so straightforward. But with spreadsheets, team members and project managers must spend hours entering data manually in order for anyone to see any benefit.

Then, as other teams create their own spreadsheets, it complicates reporting and hinders visibility into a project's progress.

More and more enterprises use cloud-based work management solutions to track time, tasks, resources, document versions, progress, and data. These platforms also automatically display metrics with real-time graphics and charts. This means spreadsheets will continue to see a decline in the workplace.

3. Hard Drives for Work Files

With all the moving parts of a project, teams need to have access to the most up-to-date information.

Using a hard drive, and not a cloud-based solution, to manage the storage of documents, images, and other critical project work creates too many versions in too many places and leads to confusion and lost work and time.

In addition, hard drives are not secure. Computers, laptops, and external drives can be lost, stolen, or hacked, leaking confidential information that can delay deliverables or even lose revenue.

The ideal solution minimizes the number of offline tools.

4. On-Premise Project Management Solutions

On-premise solutions are quickly going the way of the dodo. Challenges range from expensive licensing and keeping an in-house support staff on the payroll to purchasing and maintaining expensive required equipment.

And, once you have it up and running, forget accessing projects away from the office on your smartphone or other devices. Keep your fingers crossed because there’s always the promise of downtime that puts projects in jeopardy. But, hey, at least it’s too complex to just open and use.

Much of these challenges can be avoided by using SaaS cloud-based solutions. A study by the Aberdeen Group found that enterprises that use such solutions see real benefits, including enhanced accessibility and collaboration, lower expenses, and markedly better user support than those seen with on-premise solutions.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Over one-third of respondents moved to a software subscription model because they saw greater value in it.
  • Almost three out of five IT departments that deployed SaaS applications saw a reduction in application-related expenses.
  • Almost one-third reported that cloud-based services helped them reduce capital expenses.

Other benefits mentioned in the study include enhanced sharing and collaboration capabilities and immediate access to the latest functionality. The future is cloud based.

5. Fax

If you don’t work in a bank, law office, car dealership, or for the government there isn’t a reason to send a fax for work purposes. Let it go.

Here to Stay

When looking at these not-long-for-this-world technologies, there are similarities. These five don’t effectively allow teams to automate and customize processes and they don't provide high accessibility or real-time collaboration offered by web-based, feature-rich, SaaS work management platforms like Workfront.


To learn more about how dated technologies are hurting your business and what you can do about it, download our free white paper "The High Cost Of Email And Spreadsheets In Your Agency."

About the Author

Marcus Varner

Marcus is a content strategist and producer who loves helping brands craft content that improves customers' lives, builds brand credibility, and demands to be shared. For the last 10 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront, where he oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content. When he's not producing content, he's consuming it, in the form of books, movies, and podcasts.

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