When nothing really fits, what’s your default app?

Someone sent me a Word document last week. Inside was a short summary of supplier addresses, which served as a starting point for some procurement work. The document was simply formatted, with supplier names, addresses and some other details included; nothing special, but all that was needed in this instance.

Reading this I took a moment to consider what led to Word being used to communicate supplier details. What else mihgt have done the job? In our case, we don’t have great supplier or customer relationship tools, so you might argue that there just isn’t another place for this content. Had we already established a ‘default’, then perhaps I may have received a reference instead to some supplier details in a CRM, or maybe attachments to a task management or project tool.

For most technology users, the obvious choice for processing anything is a narrow field of wordprocessor, spreadsheet or slideshow – and in most cases, that means Word, Excel and PowerPoint. All very fine applications, but each designed with a specific purpose in mind, and in my opinion too rigid as content creation tools for the growing breadth of activities (particularly social) that users are becoming involved in. How many times have you been asked to complete a form in a Word document that doesn’t allow sufficient space in fields for your entry, or becomes almost unreadable once you add the required data? Maybe a singular spreadsheet so long (or wide) that interpreting the data without summary tables leaves you drowning in a flood of values? Can you recall any bad powerpoint examples? (of course you can!)

Choice is key in developing new learning practices, and employing new tools to achieve results. The same needs to be the case in other areas of operation, in support of business processes, for example, where the rigidity of traditional office applications can no longer accommodate flexible content structures and working habits. Choice enables an individual to take a decision, try something new, discover something better.

What’s your default app, when nothing else is quite right?

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