It’s not just fax machines that have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Increased efficiency and decreased price have resulted in rapid shifts in workplace technology over the past decade. Tools that were at the cutting edge just a few years ago have now been replaced by faster, more user-friendly options.

What’s more, employees expect businesses to provide current technology, surveys show. Businesses that fail to do so have lower employee satisfaction ratings and may be vulnerable to higher turnover rates as frustrated employees quit in search of more technology-forward companies.

Investing in future-oriented technology is one way to improve employee satisfaction and increase productivity at the same time. Your workplace may have made some of these shifts already, and some may present opportunities for growth and innovation you have yet to realize.

7 outdated technologies and their replacements

Let’s take a look at what we can learn from seven workplace technologies that used to be successful but are now (at least partially) obsolete.

Conferencing equipment vs conferencing apps

Remember when your office got that really cool conference phone speaker that looked like something out of Star Trek? Chances are it’s sitting in an electronics graveyard by now. Applications for mobile and desktop have all but eliminated the need for a separate conference speaker device. With so many teams working at different locations, digital tools for conferencing and communication are quickly taking over. If you’re ready to boldly go beyond the triangle conference speaker, check out services like GoToMeeting and RingCentral.

Desktop computers vs server-based workstations

Another piece of office equipment that’s becoming outdated is the desktop computer. The business world hasn’t ditched desktop computers entirely, and if you have working ones, we wouldn’t suggest throwing them out, but laptops and server-based workstations are quickly becoming the more popular choice for new computing equipment. Versatile, mobile, and with a smaller physical footprint, server-based workstations offer your employees flexibility to customize the setup of their workspaces and to work from anywhere – whether that’s the office conference room or their suburban living room – all while securely accessing the information they need.

Local data storage vs cloud storage

Data storage has moved to the cloud. Until recently, the best way to store all your business’s files was to house one or more local servers, usually on the premises. This required having a server room, paying the electric bills for operating and cooling the servers, and, depending on the size of your organization, hiring or outsourcing a tech expert to maintain your servers.

Cloud storage has changed all that. For many businesses, you can eliminate the need for local servers by moving your storage to the “cloud” and paying a third party to store the information for you. Your chosen hosting company maintains servers and backups across multiple locations, and you have password-protected access to your data from anywhere in the world. Some businesses may be required to maintain local storage for security or regulatory reasons, so local data storage isn’t totally obsolete, but it’s far less common than it used to be.

Email conversations vs chat conversations

Communication is one of the most rapidly changing categories of workplace technology. There’s no question that email has revolutionized business communication since its invention in the 1960s, and email still has a role to play in the modern business sphere. It’s a convenient method for sending relatively small files, reaching out to new prospects or business associates, and subscribing to industry newsletters and other requisite sources of information.

That said, many employees, especially Millennials and Gen Z-ers, prefer chat applications for workplace conversations. Younger people use text messaging apps for a significant portion of communication outside of work, and that preference has made its way to the workplace.

Chat is often more convenient than email as conversation windows can be kept open while the user searches her email inbox for other items. It’s also much easier to re-read and re-start a conversation from a chatbox than from an email thread. Chat tools are even more attractive when they’re built into a digital workplace platform to allow seamless collaboration with one or more team members on a specific project or task.

In-person meetings vs virtual meetings

Without a doubt, 2020 will be known as the year of Zoom. For many companies, the transition to virtual meetings was well on its way before COVID-19 necessitated work from home arrangements, but teams without an existing means of virtual connection may be experiencing a sense of disconnection.

With a bit of effort, the advantages of in-person meetings, such as camaraderie building, pre-and post-meeting chitchat, and checking in on team members, can be realized in virtual meetings as well. While virtual meetings may not completely replace in-person ones once the pandemic is behind us, you can expect more meetings to occur virtually as businesses recognize the benefits of saving money and time by meeting online when possible. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that a lot can be accomplished via virtual meetings.

Manual meeting minutes vs AI-generated meeting notes

Taking minutes has got to be the worst assignment at a meeting. It’s almost impossible to both keep up with the conversation, take accurate notes, and participate in the discussion. Then you have to type up the minutes and send them out in some sort of readable form.

Artificial Intelligence is changing all that, taking the hassle out of an important but tedious business task. Several AI platforms, including AIRA and, will record your meeting, create a transcript, auto-generate a summary, and send out meeting notes. As with any transcription, you’ll need to proofread for accuracy, but AI meeting notes are making scribbled minutes a thing of the past.

Disjointed collaboration tools vs an integrated digital workplace

Collaboration comes in many forms: voice calls, emails, chats, document sharing, kanban boards, and more. Historically, it was necessary for teams to be co-located to facilitate collaboration. It simply was not possible to collaborate on a project with someone who wasn’t physically present. The advent of the telephone and then the fax machine made some long-distance collaboration possible. Then the internet and email created the ability to work with anyone, anywhere.

As paradigm-shifting as our technological advances have been, the patchwork of collaboration tools available to us in the digital age can be cumbersome: too many passwords to remember, too many platforms to navigate, too many places to hunt for information. The digital workplace is the next step in our workplace technology evolution, allowing your team to work together from anywhere in the world.

The future of work

The digital workplace is the future of work, and migrating your team to a digital workplace will make your business more flexible and resilient. A robust digital workplace combines document sharing, communication, project and case management, process automation, and multiple collaboration channels. It also provides integrations and customizations so you can create – without coding – the platform your team needs to succeed in the future of work.