You walk into the office to a surprise. The year is 1986. The night before a fax came in from Korea on your new single page fax machine that cost $1200. Problem is that now it is an hour too late to contact your manufacturer and tell them that the corrections they made are off and well you are going to have to lose another couple days to the design issues.
It is 1998 and you get back from lunch. You sit down at your desk, lift the phone receiver and check your 14 messages, one by one. When done you get up and check your inbox. Not the one on the large desktop on your desk, but the one stuffed with mail and papers on the wall by your door.
This is what we take for granted today. That as recently as 12 and 25 years ago the time saving conveniences of mobile and web technologies were not only absent, but business kept on trucking along in a trillion dollar global economy.
Today, with our pocket-sized access to the entire universe (have you seen Google Sky?, I am not exaggerating here), we no longer have to wait for answers, information,solutions or just plain conversation. We can find anyone just about wherever they are. In fact these days, the hip thing to do is to unplug rather than to be part of the collective that is plugged in.
Hip is not going to make you more effective as a leader. Online services in the cloud will. If you think your small business can run just find with a single computer, a bookkeeper, a website, an email address and Microsoft Office, think again. See the company to the left and right of you are moving their billing online, they have a virtual assistant managing their web properties, a project collaboration tool and the customer relationship management system. They have you connected to the world through a social network and are constantly making sure you are part of the conversation. The cost of this is assistant is the same as the one you had in your old office, but now you work from home and he/she lives 1000+ miles away. And the 15-20 different programs this person uses in the cloud to run your business cost you about 250 bucks a month. That is less than half the cost of the space you save by not having that bigger office if you still leave the house to work at all.
I am talking to you micro business owner. The wedding planner, the plumber, the architect and florist. We have to increase our agility and take advantage of what technology is providing or, well frankly, someone else will.