Productivity software: the year in review
Last year productivity software grew in a big way. Although we’re still waiting on the exact growth figures, anecdotal evidence backs the predictions many people made in January of last year that productivity software was going to be one of 2014’s major technology trends.
So what is driving the increased adoption of productivity software? One key factor is improvements in what the technology actually offers businesses. Since the recession, businesses have put a premium on increasing efficiency and productivity. The most up-to-date office suite software was once seen by business owners as the only avenue for ensuring that technology was adequately supporting their staff. Now, with the advent of major new trends such as cloud computing, there are a raft of new ways to increase collaboration, transparency, improve project management and support document access via mobiles and other devices. The makers of productivity software have recognised this opportunity and built end-to-end software that mirrors the entire business work flow, from the initial creation of a project to final sign-off.
Adoption of productivity software has also been aided by the rise of apps. People in general are now much more comfortable using a range of different apps on multiple devices. In their day to day lives, people often use productivity tools to help with social media management, content creation and file sharing. It is therefore less of a leap to use the same type of technology in their work life.
The impact of changing global workforce trends
Another key factor that cannot be underestimated is the globalisation of business. Plenty of articles have been written discussing the ‘truly global nature’ of most companies, even small and medium sized enterprises. However, the facilitation of efficient staff collaboration when geography and time zones come into play is often underestimated and seldom discussed. Nevertheless, it has played a key part in driving the growth of productivity software. Giving staff separated by thousands of miles the ability to communicate and collaborate quickly and efficiently is essential. Accessing documents via the cloud, editing them via collaboration platforms and exchanging contracts via e-signature software can vastly streamline a business. Companies like Evernote have been quick to pounce on this trend, expanding their offering from simple note taking aimed at consumers, to a raft of features such presentation software targeted at enterprises. Slack, the collaborative chat software, is currently the fastest growing workplace software ever launched. Nitro is also seeing rapid uptake, particularly in the US and UK, with companies increasingly adopting e-signatures and seeking new ways to edit and share pdf documents.
The final factor underpinning all of this growth is the now ubiquitous use of cloud technology. A sharp drop in the cost of cloud computing has opened the door to adoption by smaller companies. Add to this the astonishing growth of workers using multiple devices and the use of some form of productivity software becomes all but essential.
What does 2015 hold for productivity software?
Looking ahead, 2015 will be characterised by an increased push to paperless business. At the moment one of the biggest pinch points is often at the end of a business process – signing the contract, reviewing the final project or approving a new strategy. This is simply because many businesses still want to look at the documents on paper, which means they need to be printed, posted, reviewed, signed or amended, and posted back. With productivity software becoming the norm, more businesses will naturally be willing to adopt e-signature technology and finalise every business process without the need for paper.
In some ways we’re entering a perfect storm in relation to the adoption of productivity software. The unrelenting growth of cloud, the ‘appification’ of our daily lives, the use of multiple devices and the globalised nature of business, means that productivity software is no longer an optional extra for a cutting-edge company, but an indispensable component of the modern workplace.