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Synergy, The Mac and your Productivity


Synergy is something we’ve been after for a long time. It’s not really that long ago when the best we had to create synergy between applications was cut and paste. In fact, it was considered so revolutionary for the day cut and paste became a marvel of our modern times. In fact, it was and people were extremely excited with what is just considered a given in the Information Age.

The Definition

I always find it valuable to work with a definition when a word is a little obtuse in its apparent meaning. Synergy is described in the dictionary as:

the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.; synergism.

For the purposes of this article, I’ll be discussing the manner in which our Mac ecosystem works together in such a fashion that we have both incredibly powerful yet convenient to use systems. Our systems, if they stood alone, would surely be viewed as powerful. However, when we view our systems synergistically, they are certainly greater than the sum of their parts. We’ve come a long way from the copy and paste system which today has to stand as what was to be ushered in.

Sync as only the Beginning

When we view the Mac ecosystem as just that, an ecosystem it has ensured that every component is far more powerful than the sum of it’s parts. The Mac ecosystem now includes every component within the Mac sphere. Every component or to put it another way all components talk to each other in some fashion or another. This is incredibly powerful.

Not only does sync ensure that information is available to us where ever and when ever thus enhancing our productivity it ironically increases our freedom. We are able to start writing a document on our desktop, head to the living room and continue and then if we need to take a trip somewhere, as long as we aren’t driving, continue to write the document. The enhanced power is in the enhanced productivity. However, the freedom comes as a result of our not needing to be glued to our desktops to continue our work. The work continues to get done.

The Apple ecosystem isn’t unidimensional either. You can use iCloud, a superb service to sync and one that most Mac users use and take for granted. Yet, you’re not bound by using this sync system. You could use Microsoft’s Exchange and accomplish the same ends. The advantage to you though is you might want to use Office 365 for your office system. In this case, you can, if you wish use Exchange for sync of all your Mac devices.

Regardless of what you use to sync, these devices combined are more powerful as an entity than if they just stood alone. Add to this the freedom of movement and there is no comparison in the dawn of this information era.

Cloud Services

Cloud services have reached the beginnings of their usefulness. Not that cloud services weren’t useful in the past. They were. Except now they have taken an evolutionary leap forward. The idea of access to our data regardless of device and location is upon us. Cloud services work beautifully in the Mac ecosystem. However, the power of cloud services is in essence exploding.

Microsoft, which was slow to the gate on the whole cloud services front, seems to be diving in. For their sake, I hope this is the case. Microsoft is a very strong player where it comes to enterprise level functionality. Apple’s end user devices have won the imagination and the spirit of the end user. They’re doing this as right as right can be unless they mess it up.

Microsoft needs to let go of control of this end of the computing sphere. By focusing on what they are good at they can do extremely well. The two combined could create yet another synergistic scenario in which productivity is stretched by the simple manner in which the network comes together with the devices.

Office 365

Office 365 is, in my view, the only interesting thing Microsoft has going for it. Microsoft’s new CEO Saedella seems to be making the right moves or so it would appear at this stage.

Apple has a very strong set of end user devices loved by their users. Apple though never was that interested historically in Enterprise computing. Microsoft’s strong suit would appear to be here. If the players let synergy work its magic, we might find ourselves with a strong Mac ecosystem at all levels.

One of Office 365’s very strong suits is it brings to small and medium sized business’ enterprise class computing. With the power of the Mac ecosystem pushed by Office 365, Apple’s ecosystem will not only enhance the home and small business users level of productivity but it will work its wonders for business also.

Wouldn’t it be something to be at home working on your desktop, that being an iMac or a Mac Pro, basically two workstation class machines, pop your iPad in your case and head off to work and pick up right where you left off having done a bit on your iPhone on the way. This doesn’t have to be an iPad. It could be an MacBook Air but I think you get my drift.

Synergy beyond the Cloud and Sync

The thrust of my discussion is synergy and bringing components together in a way that the sum of their actions is more powerful than that of their parts. There is so much to be discussed but for brevities sake I’d like to just look at two other things that have a bit of a wow factor element in their operation.

One has to do with that of the AppleTV as more than a box that delivers entertainment through your wireless network in a standalone mode. The AppleTV and Apple’s devices use a marvelous technology referred to as Airplay. Using Airplay your iPad or iPhone can talk to your AppleTV. You can do something such as use an application called remote just to enable you to type stuff from your iPad to your AppleTV enhancing the whole input process such as choosing a movie.

Using Airplay you can go quite the step beyond. You can stream anything from your iPad that’s on the net to your AppleTV. The AppleTV has limitations around content. Not when combined with your iPad, the Net and Airplay. Again, ”the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

One Simple but Final Example of Synergy

On this road from the cut and paste era we’ve come a long way. Just to provide a simple but powerful application example, many GTD programs such as Things provide a due date but no reminder of the time an activity is to occur.

Using Launchbar and the program Due you can rapidly get around the problem ensuring you won’t forget to do what you need to. Highlight the task to be done, use Launchbar’s instant send and then send the activity to Due. Finally, in Due set your reminder time and remember to have Due sync the activity to all your devices. At the time of the activity you’ll be alerted.

This kind of synergy sounds simple but there’s a lot to it yet for the end user it’s not at all complicated. What it does though is allow you to choose your Task Manager not based on whether this function is built in. You can choose your task manager of choice and through a synergistic operation be alerted to the activity.

Freedom yet Productivity

Our technologies have nicely evolved to the point that we are more productive than ever yet very free. Using the right tools, we can ensure that our work goes with us and we have access to that anywhere. Being able to work in such a fashion dramatically improves productivity.

Being alerted to our work enhances our productivity. Finally, having tools such as this enhances freedom. We are not slaves to our desk. The desk metaphorically goes with us.

Our Apple tools, on their own are impressive. However, combined synergistically they are extremely powerful. They decrease lag time, enhance accuracy and actually free us.

We’ve come a long way. There’s much to come. The Apple ecosystem is very powerful now. Mavericks has been designed for the future as has IOS 7. Synergy will play a greater role within the Apple ecosystem and externally to the ecosystem using tools such as Office 365 should Microsoft be wise enough to leverage these new capabilities. It would be nice to see Microsoft do just that and time will tell that story. We can rest easy regardless though knowing our Macs remain that friendly face from days gone by.

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