For today's blog, I wanted to take a step away from the typical "benefits and tips for businesses" topics, and look at how pervasive some of the problems we face really are regarding document management and software solutions.
These problems are so evident that they have completely and utterly driven some of the most famous movie plotlines in history.
No, really. Let's take a look at what I consider the biggest cuprit that fits this criteria, and you might be surprised.
Yep, that's right. Star Wars. Often dismissed as filler dialogue on a first-watch, we come to realize that stolen plans for the Death Star were the single catalyst for everything that transpires in the three original films.
Episode IV (the first movie released, "A New Hope", thanks to whacky Star Wars numerical canon) opens with the iconic title scroll, an infinitely long shot of a starship being chased by yet a larger starship. We come inside the rebel vessel to discover Princess Leia hiding from Darth Vader, hastily putting some kind of data onto a robot, putting said robot in an escape pod, and launching said escape pod onto a remote desert planet.
Because Imperial software solutions provide less security than the average candy bar wrapper. The rebel spies have stolen plans to the new technologically superior weapon and base of the Empire, with seemingly great risk but minimal effort.
You're telling me the underfunded, hidden, ill-supplied rebel force stole crucial data and documents right out from under the major leading government's nose, without anyone noticing?
That's... frighteningly realistic, for a movie made in the seventies about a space war and the mystical "Force", isn't it?
Stolen documents and security breeches (particularly of the government) are a terrifying reality. We all realize that by storing our important files electronically, we've made them less available to grabby hands, but in many ways easier to find for prying eyes.
Fact is, if the Empire had an updated and secure document management system in place, security measures and permissions would have made it much more difficult for "spies" to get to the files in the first place, keeping the rebel alliance from having a leg up on the Death Star. While maybe not inevitably best for the galaxy as a whole, it certainly would have been good for the Empire, and stopped the film from ever taking place the way it did.
Now, as a rabid fan of the franchise, it pains me to think that something as mundane as document management software or better security protocols could have been the Empire's greatest weapon – not nearly as interesting as blowing up Alderaan. Sure, cheaper on the Visual FX budget maybe, but it's just lacking some of the scale.
In reality, though, things like electronic document management and process automation were unfathomably powerful, and still considered additional works of fiction to the minds behind the films.
Realistically, Star Wars (and Star Trek for the record) didn't predict e-mail, let alone the idea of "the cloud." Light speed, blasters, and colonies on the fringes of the galaxy, but not once did somebody send an e-mail. Remember how Leia sent the plans? They were on one hard disk, in a droid, on an escape pod, ejected to a planet, found by a farmer on accident, who happened to be friends with the guy her father told should maybe have them.
This is up there with such common business nightmare-fuel as "Sure, I've got the project plan – it's on a thumb drive hanging on a lanyard from the mirror in my Aunt's car. She left it at the mechanic during a conference three cities away, but the mechanic is a friend and we're meeting for dinner next month I'm pretty sure."
It puts in perspective the pure surrealism of a world that's constantly connected through data, Wi-Fi and cellular signal. This was unimaginable in creator George Lucas's time – that we would all walk around with these tiny computers in our pockets, which could enable us to check permissions for someone thousands of miles away and approve their access to a document on the fly.
The current age is a time of technology that would mystify Jedi and impress Galactic Senators; technology that organizations are taking advantage of and improving on every day to increase the quality of the world around us – and that's awesome.
How are you using modern technology to secure documents or increase quality of experience for customers and the people you interact with? What do you see in the future? Are you rebel, or imperial?