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Letting Go of the (Technological) Past

Walk into any modern office or any small businessperson’s private office, and you’re likely to find a desktop computer and a black, corded phone. The desktop computer has been the staple of office culture since the mid 1990s. The corded phone has been the staple of office culture since the 1960s, if not earlier. This technological duo is so ubiquitous to the modern American business that when the hit show The Office was being filmed, the production company had the actors all use real desktop computers and phones just to set the scene even more clearly. Actors even checked their email and played games during takes.

As the BBC once put it, “the computer changed the office forever.”

Except…forever is a rather long word. The thing is, right now the odds are that you have something in your pocket more powerful than your desktop computer and more efficient than your corded phone- more powerful than the computers that sent the Apollo 11 spacecraft to the moon.

I’m talking, of course, about your cell phone.

Actually, it probably isn’t in your pocket, because studies show that we’re using our phones more than we’re using traditional PCs. People are watching hours and hours of clips, movies, shows, and news on their phones. They’re reading articles, books, film reviews, texts, emails, PDFs, and more. If I listed everything people were doing with their phones, I’d probably run out of words for this article.

Then why is the desktop still the basis of the office? Ditto the corded phone?

It isn’t the processing power- most office tasks don’t require having some sort of powerful computer processor. Plus, most office PCs are more than a couple years old anyway, and don’t have anything near the latest technology. Many, for example, have no access to Bluetooth (and that corded phone you have doesn’t). Oftentimes they still have CD drives, even though those were mostly phased out ages ago.

Is it the keyboard? Possibly yes, but tablets can use keyboard as well, and there are even connections for phones.

The need to write documents? Again, maybe, but you can easily do that on a tablet.

And with phones- what’s the point exactly of having a bulky, overly complex phone system (a system you usually need to call someone in to help set up, which is a bit ironic) with a design that screams 1995?

It isn’t call quality. Cell phones often have crystal clear quality.

It isn’t usability- with a corded phone you can go about as far as five feet before you start to feel a tug. Good luck walking to the office kitchen to fill up your coffee cup while on a loooong sales call.

The fact is, when it comes down to it desktop computers and corded phones are still being used for only two reasons: sunk costs and habit.

The former, sunk costs, will be a familiar term to most small business owners. Essentially, sunk costs are things that you have already spent money on and you cannot get that money back- it’s “sunk.” And as a result, a lot of small businesses are unwilling to let go of products they have sunk costs into, like desktops and corded phones

And that’s an understandable desire! No one likes to feel like they’re wasting money. But the problem is, as a small business owner, saving money is oftentimes the key to keeping yourself afloat when times get rough. And you very well may be losing money by holding onto those older, slower machines.

The same goes habits. When you ask people why they prefer to read newspapers over articles printed online (provided you find people who still regularly read newspapers), they’ll almost always say because they like the feel of the ink and the paper. And that’s understandable.

A lot of people will tell you they like the feel of the corded phone receiver and the sounds of the keyboard keys being pressed, and this makes sense- nostalgia is fun, and there IS certainly something satisfying about the feeling one gets when typing out long sentences on a desktop keyboard, uninterrupted by having to stop and go back.

But when it comes to small businesses and trying to cut costs, “I like the feel” just doesn’t cut it (no pun intended).

The fact is, more and more of your and your employees tasks can be done on cell phones and tablets than ever before. And switching over to a system that is more focused on cell phones instead of sedentary corded phones and desktop computers gives you so many more benefits.

Employees on a week-long conference and are away from their desktop? No problem. Snow day or other weather event keeping your employees from getting to the office? No problem. Moving to a 21st century work flow gives you more flexibility, and it gives your employees more flexibility.

And there are other major benefits too. After all, modern problems require modern solutions. By moving to more modern products, you get access to more modern programs and software that older desktops just can’t handle.

Plus, you soon find that you can do things you never thought possible. Take MightyCall, for example, a premier virtual phone system. With MightyCall you can ditch the corded phone entirely by purchasing a number for each employee, on simple plans. An auto attendant can direct your callers to the right employees, and each employee can download the free MightyCall app, so they can talk on the go- which means no need for them to be sitting at their desk staring at a blue screen while waiting for a call.

And if you do decide that the desktop is just too hard to let go? No problem! MightyCall features a webphone, which means your employee can talk through the computer to clients or interested callers- transforming your mid-2000s desktop into a true 21st century business machine.