It never ceases to amaze me the way technology moves forward at an incredible rate and then, just seems to stop. Take the aeroplane industry, for example: in a span of 60 years, what started as the Wright brothers in Ohio demonstrating an idea has evolved into more than 90,000 people a day using air travel to reach their next destination. Yet, in the last 50 years, unless you are one of those people that like to spend their Saturdays at the end of an aeroplane runway, you would struggle to tell the difference between a 747 made today and one made in the 1960s. In many ways, standing still as an industry can be seen as an achievement, but I don’t think it is.
Office technology went through a similar revolution. In the mid-80s, if someone one had something urgent to relay, they could always send a Telex. However, this Telex system did come with constraints. You could only send a Telex if the person you were sending the message to had one. You also had to call beforehand for their phone number. Confirmation that Telex was switched on and had paper in it was also important. Unsurprisingly, there was a demand for change. By the 1990s everyone was happily typing away on desktop PCs. The ever-powerful backspace key was a welcome replacement to small pots of emulsion used to correct mistakes. We had seen the future and there was no stopping innovation…or so it seemed.
Unfortunately, as time passed it became clear that office automation technology wasn’t improving in the revolutionary ways it had before. The office technology industry, similar to the aeroplane industry, was changing very little since its first steps into innovation. It would be naïve to think there were no more efficiencies still to be had. It simply isn’t true. I myself have always been frustrated at how the first 10 minutes of every meeting is spent plugging and fiddling around with cables, followed shortly by meeting members holding their breath, willing an image to appear on the screen in front of them. These cables yield so much power that many of my own customers employ workers whose sole job is to plug cables into devices.
For the last few weeks, I have been using Widi Pro and Unite, two products designed to fix these irritations. Technology is always looking for problems to solve, and these two tools, Widi Pro and Unite, are just that—problem solvers. Widi Pro offers a better alternative to those clunky cords sitting on top of meeting room tables. WiDi Pro differs from previous versions in an important way: it works. The problems with its dysfunctional parents have been solved.
Unite is an application that implements meeting room collaboration the way it should be implemented. With the options of remote users coming and going and seamless sharing of voice, video, and whiteboards, it is a game changer. Unite supports all sorts of technologies, which until now were thought to be incompatible. Configuring these devices also couldn’t be easier –in less than a minute; prepare for a locked down corporate laptop to be a part of a meeting from the future. I am a natural sceptic about most things, but even I was impressed with these new technologies. I feel I have in some ways glimpsed the future. I am not alone in these sentiments either; so far every customer that has experienced the new Widi Pro and Unite has wholeheartedly agreed with me.
Perhaps office technology will follow a track similar to commercial aviation in terms of lack of innovation. But I suspect that will not be true. With Widi Pro and Unite, meeting rooms are about to change, and unlike the disappointing way aviation has evolved, I think it will be for the better.