One of my pet theories is that eventually all information is going to be distributed via the “web browser stack” of technologies. Here’s what I mean by this:
Today, people in jobs like mine spend a lot of time building sales presentations. People call these different things: “decks”, “pitchbooks”, “submissions”, etc. They’re all the same thing: a summary of deal-relevant data, narrative and visualizations available in both print and electronic form distributed by email or ftp.
The technologies used are still dominated by Microsoft Office, which is probably 90% of the reason why Microsoft is in any way relevant these days. We write using Word, we analyze using Excel and Access, we present with Powerpoint and we (ugh) code in VBA. We then ‘pdf’ (verb) the documents, which is another proprietary bit of software, and email the files out.
This setup is expensive, time consuming and will one day go to the way of the Telex and the Typing Pool. Here’s tomorrow’s paradigm:
- Write Text In HTML
- Style in CSS
- Distribute Information by Web Server
- Send Data via FTP
- Visualize With Jquery-based applications (yikes!)
The data are immutable (bye bye adobe), the odious Microsoft Word is finally slayed and email file limits are forever circumvented. Microsoft’s last stand will be with Excel, as long as it doesn’t commit upgrade suicide, which the latest version suggests is a real possibility. That program is still one of the greatest products ever developed.
One of the projects I’m taking on at work is to build parallel sales documents in HTML/CSS (Powerpoint may already be almost dead). Because I don’t want to infect my mind with the odious MS Word any more than I need to, I’ll probably build everything in HTML and write a script that translates it into Word.
Hopefully, I’ll be successful and begin to engineer a transition from the old stack to the new. We may be first movers here, folks! We’ll be so high status, clients will shower us with business.