Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

PART FOUR: THE WIRELESS OFFICE

Breathing new life into PowerPoint Add to ...

Through no (or perhaps some) fault of its own, PowerPoint long ago secured a prominent place for itself in the pantheon of most hated business software.

Just about anyone who has ever worked in a corporate environment is familiar with the agony of sitting through a PowerPoint presentation: the endless blocks of text, the poorly drawn and barely relevant clip-art, the unnecessary animated transitions.

By virtue of being the most well-known software of its kind on Earth, PowerPoint has become synonymous with the boring business presentation.

In previous instalments of this series, we've looked at ways in which small and medium-sized businesses can go wireless - for example, by switching to Internet-based telephone and video communication tools, or by adopting wireless printing solutions.

In this final instalment, we look at alternatives to the traditional corporate presentation.

Most boardroom presentations tend to be unbearably static, with one person at the front of the room talking everyone else through slide after slide. The presentation tends to be one-way, and usually confined to one location.

But with companies looking more and more at including offsite locations in their presentations, and making those presentations more collaborative, traditional software no longer makes the grade.

Indeed, even one of the world's oldest and most popular presentation tools - PowerPoint, which first came out in 1987 - is starting to focus more and more on collaboration.

Many of the new features in PowerPoint 2010 allow users to, for example, work on creating the same presentation at the same time. In addition, the software also gives users the ability to share various files on a remote server, making it possible to work on the same presentation from multiple locations.

Like its competitors, PowerPoint has also focused on the mobile revolutions. Versions of the software are now available for various smart phones and tablets, either through PowerPoint itself or PowerPoint-compatible software such as Documents To Go.

Apple Inc. recently announced that its KeyNote presentation software is now available for iPhones and the iPod Touch as part of a mobile-centric version of the iWork suite. The move by Microsoft Corp., Apple and others to bring presentation software to mobile devices reflects a trend among many employees toward creating and storing such presentations on their smart phones and tablets, rather than desktops and laptops.

The move to make presentations wireless is also spurring innovations in the hardware sector.

Research In Motion Ltd.'s PlayBook, for example, is being marketed to businesses in large part on its ability to stream HD presentations while still allowing the tablet's user to do other things. A "presentation mode" feature on the hardware lets the presenter keep the slideshow going on a projector or TV screen while clearing the PlayBook's own screen to surf the Web or run other software.

Seiko Epson Corp. also recently released a piece of hardware called the BrightLink Solo that basically turns almost any surface into a whiteboard, giving presentations a bit more interactivity.

Virtual whiteboards have become more popular with businesses in recent years because they represent a relatively cheap and effective way to get employees sharing ideas and working together. In addition to professional-grade tools from companies such as TeamBoard, there are countless collaboration and brainstorming apps available in stores such as iTunes.

Of all the areas we've discussed in this series, wireless presentations have perhaps the best chance of becoming a mainstream fixture of the business world.

For one thing, most new presentation software already comes with collaborative and wireless tools.

In addition, wireless presentation apps for smart phones and tablets are relatively cheap, and don't require larger infrastructure investment the way Internet-based phone services or wireless printing do.

In effect, presentations may be the best area for a small business to start if it's looking to see how much more productive a wireless office can be.

Other Stories can be found on the Web Strategy section of the Small Business website.

Follow on Twitter: @omarelakkad

 

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories