Every day something in the digital office annoys a few hundred million workers. Not enough to stage a mass revolt, but just enough to ferment our collective disdain for technology.
Here's a wish list of things those of us at CMSWire would like developers, vendors and IT specialists to fix in 2014. Their cooperation will help save our souls from everything from the inevitable cloud outage to expletives over the latest snafu and personalized ring tones that sound like moose calls.
The Good News
Everyone has his own personal dislikes when it comes to the technology that follows us from home to the office — and everywhere in-between. In 2013, at least one personal nightmare went away. Google added a feature to its Chrome browser that lets you identify which tab is making that damn racket as you browsed the financial news, check last night's sports scores and so on. One down, a few thousand to go!
A couple of years ago I wrote a similar piece about technology pet peeves, and it looks like not much has changed. Pointless email notifications, ad creep and not-available-in-your-region messages still plague users. So what's causing that twitch under your eye, your heart to sink and that device to be thrown against a wall? Let us know. These are our personal gremlins from the IT world.
Skype in a Swamp
This could well be true of other VoIP services. But I have the most experience with Skype, and it seems like any time more than two people want to use it for a business call, there are problems. One person always sounds as if he is talking from the bottom of a swamp. Someone else is always dropping off the call and everything the third one tries to say ends in an echo, like a baroque chant played backwards.
Why does this happen? We all have high quality broadband, and we're not calling from the International Space Station. Sure, Webex does the same thing from time to time and I've never really chatted much on Viber, with its HD voice. But from comments I hear, most services suffer the same problems.
The solution, of course, is to direct dial using a landline. But with modern workers increasingly out of the office, these services are going to need to win our trust — and likely our company's cash. What's your preferred VoIP service? And feel free to describe the worst noise you've ever heard coming out of one of these VoIP calls.
Cloud Outage of the Day
It doesn't matter what company you use. At least one of the cloud email, storage, analytics or other services will go down, and most likely right at the moment you need it for an important report. The sensible users among us will have local copies, backups, a print-out, anything to mitigate this nightmare. But most of us don't. So instead, being abusive on Twitter (and God help us if Twitter goes down), quickly setting up an alternative service or packing up for the day are our only options.
You'd think after a decade of operation for some of these services, they would have figured it out by now. But every year some fresh update goes awry, a previously unknown hardware failure springs to light or the backup systems refuse to play. Just how much longer do we think this will be acceptable for or is 99.9 percent uptime the best we can ever hope for?
Wait. Nomo what? Ah, that's the fear of losing or not being with your beloved mobile device or feeling out of control without it. That's a sense that every executive, knowledge worker — actually anyone — will have to learn to live with and its only going to get worse.
Unless that is, you have a tricked-out iCloud or similar service, backup with everything else stored in Dropboxes around the web and your previous device safely stashed away for just this eventuality. Most enterprises have disaster recovery planning, but with bring your own device (BYOD) policies, the onus is on users to ensure some kind of continuity.
How we avoid this without psychiatric care is up for debate — either that, or disposable phones are about to make a comeback. Feel free to share your worst mobile disaster and, more importantly, how long it took you to recover.
Office Brand Bashing
In secondary school, it was this band or another. In college, it was that sports team or their deadly rival, some-other-sports-team. In the office, much of the water cooler discussion rapidly devolves into cooing over someone's latest mobile device and then slamming it and comparing it with others.
"You still use last year's model? You poor deprived thing!" "Really, that telco/app/service! In this day and age? How quaint!" That's how it starts. It can go as far as decrying the baseband chip used in a model (depending on how close to the IT department your water cooler is) or the color of the case it comes in.
Across any office, from the company's choice of desktop provider to the processor brand within them, from cloud storage service to CMS provider, nothing is ever good enough. Feel free to share the juiciest put down of a tech product you ever heard. But next time you hear this going on, be a grown up and walk away. Please!
Technology News Release Hell
One for the product people, buyers and press in the room. We all get well-crafted news releases, web product brochures and invites to vendor briefings. They all promise "disruptive technologies," a "market-defining product," or "transformational innovation." NO THEY DON'T!
Changing how your business orders its staples, ink refills or pizzas isn't disrupting anything. Cloud management of the office cleaning schedule isn't changing the world. Your new CMS really isn't transforming my business, unless it can scan my brainwaves and create what my mind's ideal site looks like and populate it with content.
Please, marketing folks. Think up some new buzzwords for 2014. Better yet, just replace the hyperbole in your press and product releases with a little honesty.
Title image from ETSY, where you can buy those cushions.