You’re on mute.
How many times have you heard that in the last year?
How many cats and kids have you seen Zoom-bomb a meeting? And how about Potato Boss? Do you remember her?
Those who use a computer to work have all learned a thing or two in the last year—you still need to wear pants (stretchy is acceptable), hit unmute before you talk and that backgrounds hide the fact you’re actually on the beach. Some of us are still learning though, amiright?
However, there is one universal truth computer-dependent people do know—without the software that enables us to meet, chat, call, text, and share documents virtually, business would come to a grinding halt. Yes, there was a learning curve, but these communication tools saved our professional lives, did they not?
Software programs like Teams, Zoom and SharePoint help us collaborate, share data and information, keep each other accountable, and essentially make our lives easier. At least we weren’t all hunting down fax machines on eBay, creating a nationwide shortage of fax machines… But I digress.
Even if you come from an office that never worked remotely before, software isn’t new to you. You use software every day—Microsoft Office, Outlook email, Excel spreadsheets. Without software, I’m betting you wouldn’t get a paycheck! (Ask accounting. They’ll prove me right). These programs are like second nature now, it’s hard to imagine what work life was like without them. When you do reflect back, you must think about how slow it was.
Clyde Wiley, a retired civil engineer says, “I did it not just before computers, but even limited calculators. Slide rulers and mechanical calculators. Even doing a simple cost estimate spreadsheet was time-consuming when you had to do it manually. Even when we got computers, they were slow. I remember waiting 30 minutes or more for our mainframe computer to make a set of calculations that a laptop of today would do in a fraction of a second.”
Were you there when your office started implementing these new tools? Were you or your coworkers reluctant? That’s fair. Change can be scary. Especially when it comes to changes in technology. A big concern is if a machine will make you redundant. And that’s completely understandable. We get it. Nobody wants to be replaced by a robot.
But, think about it. Those tools mentioned above did make your life easier and projects completed quicker and more accurately. I’m gonna go ahead and go out on a limb here and call this common office software indispensable.
When Did Software Become So Popular?
The idea of computer software is far from new. English mathematician, philosopher, inventor, and mechanical engineer, Charles Babbage, is credited for first documenting the idea of using machines for computations. In 1837, Babbage tried (his second) to build this machine, called the Analytical Engine; however, the project was never completed during his lifetime due to lack of funds and conflicts with his colleagues.
During this time, Babbage corresponded with Ada Lovelace, fellow English mathematician and writer, who developed the algorithm that calculated a sequence of Bernoulli numbers for the Analytical Engine—essentially the first computer program.
“While technology is important, it doesn’t have to be complex or costly to be effective. Effective technology is probably the most important enabler for change that a company can introduce.” entrepreneur.com
Fast forward many, many, many years later to 1979 when VisiCorp developed, VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet computer program made exclusively for the Apple II computer. The program cost $100. It was in such high demand; people ran out to buy the $200 Apple II just so they could use the program. VisiCalc is said to be the turning point for computers and software use in business, prompting IBM to release its first PC…and the rest, as they say…is history.
The introduction of the computer into the business world made working on projects quicker, simpler, and much more reliable. Manual input of data on paper took a lot of time with a huge margin for error—we’re human after all… and not to mention, paper is highly flammable, deteriorates over time, and where do you store boxes and boxes of paper?
Early computer programs like VisiCalc proved themselves in the workplace and gave rise to a whole new industry, creating demand for skilled people in software development and engineering, and computer sciences.
By the early ‘90s, most companies were providing computers for each employee. At the time, much of the office software came with extra programs no one needed. Hard drive space became a serious and expensive issue. Software companies found a solution to the problem by hosting their software off-site, freeing up hard drive space on personal computers. This system is called Software As A Service, or SaaS, for short.
What is Software As A Service (SaaS)?
SaaS is software that is externally hosted through the provider’s own or leased servers where users pay a subscription service to use the product. SaaS allows users access to one centralized database from anywhere, streamlining the business process.
Software as a service is easy to implement and update and saves your company money because you invest in less hardware.
How Has Software Made Businesses Successful?
- By streamlining the business process
Computer software has allowed companies in all industries to increase productivity while reducing cost. Each new software program developed for your business improves your process, making everyone more efficient and productive which can lead to decreased waste and increased profitability.
- By improving communication and collaboration
These centralized data hubs allow for everyone with access to share the same information quickly and more efficiently. When you can recall information in seconds, less time is wasted, leaving more time to pursue growth opportunities. Global advisory and broking organization, Willis Towers Watson report that “companies with better communication are three and half times more likely to outperform their competitors.” (text-em-all.com) Better communication and collaboration help build trust and relationships with owners.
- By providing accurate data
Automating records of any kind, be it financial or customer information, eliminates error and allows you to analyze past successes and failures so you can make sound business decisions based on facts.
- By letting us work smarter, not harder
Software simplifies tasks and makes your job easier and more accurate. Your company’s potential for growth and increasing revenue is only limited to your own reluctance to spend on innovation and technology.
Investing in new technologies not only contributes to your business’ growth and success, but also the preconstruction and construction industry as a whole. We can’t think of a better reason why you should capitalize on emerging technologies such as software than to advance the industry we so passionately care about.