There are times when technology gives us something altogether new. The telephone was new. This led to the mobile phone, which led to the cell phone, which led to the smartphone. Voice Recognition systems are new. They employ computer programs to interact with your customers; sometimes to supplement human interaction and sometimes to replace it altogether. There are other times when technology simply improves upon existing technology – voicemail, e-mail, faxes have all benefitted from recent improvements in technology. The Original Answering Machine The photo above is misleading because post-it notes were not invented until long after this phone went out of style, but you get the idea. The Answering Machine The first voicemail systems were answering machines with recording tapes. In the initial configuration, you had to be physically present with the recorder in order to playback the messages. This was not convenient, to say the least. You couldn’t check your messages when you were away (at least not when they first came out), which was kind of the point of the machine. This was done away with digital technology, which replaced the tape, and the traditional answering machine developed more features, eventually evolving into software rather than hardware. The Answering Machine Becomes Voicemail We said goodbye to the answer machine and hello to voicemail over the course of a few years. The best part about voicemail is that it’s digital and offers many more features than the old machines. It’s also highly customizable to meet your needs. The voicemail systems of today include the ability to customize greetings, then to change them remotely. You even have the ability to access your voicemail from other devices. Introducing Voicemail to Email You can now receive voicemails as emails, allowing you to read your voicemails. In a simple touch of the button, you can access your voicemail messages by reading them, rather than listening to them. Fax Machines Go from Hardware to Software Do you recognize the dinosaur above? That’s one of the first fax machines. They used thermal paper, which is the white rolled paper coming out of the front of the machine. Yes, the paper came in rolls, so that when you got to the end of the roll, the paper came out in a really tight roll, requiring you to straighten it using the edge of your desk. This paper was also expensive, at about six dollars a roll and they lasted a few days to a week, if you were lucky. The fax has now moved to an application in your computer device. They now use the internet (cloud based technology strikes again) to transmit. When was the last time you used the fax machine, though? I personally cannot remember the last time I faxed something, but some people still use the technology, and it’s changed dramatically. The current way the system works allows for access from any device, even your phone. That’s probably the biggest change that’s come to the office of today. The ability to stay connected no matter where you are or what device you are using.