Collaborating Inside & Out

How to Grow and Run Your Business on Cloud Systems Working Together Virtually - Cloud & Mobile
29 minutes
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Now for the core stuff, ah, teamwork and productivity. You know, there was a there was a time when desktop computers and productivity apps were were yet right that's that was that was most of what you talked about with it and systems for a small business. And this is way, way, way down the list of lessons and we're finally getting to it. But I'll see if I can give you some sense of the many, many options and what I think are the priorities that will actually help you substantially to talk about teamwork and collaboration within your organization. First, you got to think about you in your own work. And we'll start with that horrible beast, the desktop computer, desktop computer kind of the glorification of the clerical in a lot of ways.

We do a lot of stuff with desktop computers, but it's very Very, it's very file based. It's very individual thing based. And that's the model and we haven't really replaced it. And when we tried to place it, it doesn't really work. So let's talk in terms of simple examples, I have to write something I might open word and write it, I might open a text editor and write it and I'm going to save that file that chunk of data with a name and a date. locally on my probably hard disk.

Some of us are old enough to have saved on floppy disks. But we won't go there. You might save a bunch of numbers in calculation, like a spreadsheet. You might be doing a presentation stuff, you're going to show other people which is I'm sort of going through the classic, the now classic set of things in in an in an office suite, primarily written documents, word pages, things like that, primarily lists and calculations. which tend to be done in spreadsheet, primarily. presentation to other people tend to be done in presentation packages, PowerPoint, keynote, plenty of alternatives there, possibly a desktop database program.

It's very hard to kill desktop databases once they start breeding inside of a company even though they've got substantial challenges. But there you go, we thought of that is the basic office thing on an email, which we already talked about. That's your own thing, but obviously, it's only valuable in connection with other people. But roots have a lot of this structure where personal computer, my stuff, my hard disk, got to back it up, but my stuff physically this computer, physically stored on a particular device, you got to not think like that to get work done and be productive and cost effective. Now, the more you tie yourself to your desktop, the worse For everybody, and especially you, so let's blow up the you picture a little bit. And I'll try and keep it generic and not vendor specific.

So let's say you're going from, I've got a desktop computer with my stuff on it. And I want to take a step into this cloud and virtual world with what tool set, we'll leave aside for the moment. You're gonna need something that bridges the gap between your disk and your device as if you only had one to the rest of the world. generic name for that synchronization systems, Dropbox, box net sugarsync, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive. Lots of them out there. Cubby, I think is a new one that I just ran into the other day.

What those do For starters, is take your stuff, or I set up your stuff and actually say will Take care of putting that somewhere else and keeping a copy of it up to date. At all times, there's somewhere else in this case is the probably sick of hearing the phrase the cloud. So, generically speaking, you say, well, I'll keep my stuff in this folder, and I realized their non folder solutions. And although it'll still be sitting on my hard disk, they'll actually be a copy of all of this stuff. somewhere else, at a minimum, somewhere up in the sky somewhere up in the cloud. So here's our cloud based version of the three documents that constitute your whole working existence.

On brief rant on security aside, it's easy to get wound up about security of data in the cloud. And if you really think about it logically, you say, why am I worried about it? Well, because my stuff's out there on the internet. All I've got to say about it as this if your computers on the internet Your stuffs on the internet. And if you think your desktop computer with all of your security expertise is more secure than a cloud based SYNC system and the data center it's sitting in. I don't think I agree with you.

I mean, yes, you could lock down a desktop desk, top computer. I don't know how to do that extraordinarily well. Most people don't know how to do that extraordinarily well. That's not to say that cloud based storage is 100%. Secure, but boy, it's the aberrations in the break ins that get the press and the billions and billions and probably trillions of files that seamlessly go up and down and transit through storage somewhere else. Never make the headline.

So don't let hype about cloud security. scare you off, doesn't mean don't be prudent. And don't be practical to let the hype automatically rule that out as a solution for you. So what's the benefit for you of taking let's say a special folder full of stuff saying please synchronize it up there out there into the world at large. I'll spell out a couple of easy benefits. And then we'll, we'll try and extend that to a team.

One is you probably don't have a single device in your life anymore. It's becoming more and more common for everyone to have more and more devices. So one of the things that a cloud based solution does for you. synchronization is says, You know what, when you're on your phone, and you forgot to bring this or copy it or update it, or when you're on your notebook, and you forgot to bring your copier update this or Gosh, when you're on your tablet, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, guess what? You get all your stuff. And it's up to the minute up to date that aligns with price of admission, really, because if you think you're always going to keep everything perfectly synced, you're spending way too much time doing work that software should be doing for you.

I can't count the number of times I've pulled my phone out. Got that the dead got to something that I needed because I have a sink solution like this. And that whole nagging I have to be at this one spot to get to my stuff just evaporates. So at a personal productivity level, having your information your information accessible to you elsewhere on other devices is certainly a heck of a jump forward. On might even be might even be someone else's device, right? Gee, Mom, can I borrow your computer, I need to get that absolutely vital file and send it to someone.

Notice I'm talking about synchronization of files, not necessarily of the things your your specific computer can do. My desktop computer has tons of media production software on it, that I couldn't run on an iPad or a phone. I do occasionally take remote control, which is different than getting to my files. But the point is Is this even if my quote unquote my computer, one of my computers is off, all my stuff is up to date, all the stuff that I chose to synchronize that way. It also has the handy dandy side benefit of being a backup of the things that you absolutely care about the most. And don't Don't, don't underestimate that.

That shouldn't be your only backup. But in terms of safety, safety and security of documents, it's a darn good one. Let me talk about tools for my stuff, because that'll start to bridge us into talking about sync solutions and teamwork. Since what ballpark early 90s we've gotten used to some basic functions and we sort of group them in our heads as if they were natural. The big dog in this space was in problem still is Microsoft and the Office Suite So what's in office, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and possibly some other stuff we've gotten used to thinking of that is the tool set for getting work done. So terrific tool set on not taking anything away from Microsoft Office, excel in particular, which is possibly the coolest app there is.

Um, however, however, whether you're on Windows or a Mac, buying or licensing, the Microsoft Office service isn't the only alternative you've got if you deal with one or two Word docs a month and one or two, Excel spreadsheets a month and that's your only possible reason for buying Microsoft Office or licensing office 365. I want to at least tell you that there are alternatives that may will satisfy your needs. The world of open source didn't much like the lock that Microsoft Office seemed to have on everybody's desk too many years ago. And so there was quite a vital movement for a stretch to write, create an alternative Office Suite, it was called Open Office. My understanding is that one of the big software companies, one of Microsoft's competitors ended up involved with the OpenOffice movement at some point, and I don't know how up to date, this code for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and I think database is state.

I don't know who's working on this now. Maybe maybe a ton of people and I apologize if there are, you may be almost nobody because of the ownership and licensing complications that happened for a while, but OpenOffice is one of the alternatives. If you were running a school, and you needed to have thought you needed to have an office suite on 20 computers and you were looking at paying a license or getting it for free. I would at least try this and see does it solve the problem? a fork a branch of the OpenOffice codebase Libra, a Libra office free office on my understanding is that when the Open Office code got sort of taken over, that's some of the development folks working on it said we don't want to stand for that. We want to continue taking this forward.

And if you just judge by the website, it certainly says there's a little more attention to design and a little more sense of activity. I mean, this looks like best in the 90s. And this looks reasonably up to date. So LibreOffice another alternative I'm pretty sure is Windows, Mac and Linux on Mac specific, get some good reviews, Neo office is a yet another fork of that set of code that makes up OpenOffice. These guys were pretty hard at keeping Neo office up to date. For the Mac's if, if you run a Mac, this is another alternative to consider.

What I use personally for my stuff, a lot of the time is Apple's iWork suite, their pages, call it a word processing program. It's like Word Processing needs lightweight page layup pages is great for the kind of stuff that I tend to write. And I find it quieter and more focusing. It doesn't have a bunch of features that suck me off into play with document formats. I can concentrate on writing more on numbers, numbers, use numbers, not Excel. Don't even think about it if you're a heavy duty spreadsheet guy.

Excel is the Excel is it, period. I'm in Excel, I got an Excel bias. Conversely, I use keynote for presentations, which I do a lot. And I think keynote knocks the socks off of PowerPoint and any other slide by slide presentation environment. There. So I guess the key point is that you don't have just one alternative anymore.

Microsoft has felt the pressure about the notion of licensing software and paying a ton of money up front and then trying to keep keep up with upgrades. So within the past, I think year, they've introduced a licensed subscription version of Office called office 365. I haven't run it. I don't know it inside out. I've read many, many positive reviews on if you've got people who are very familiar with Microsoft Office, and you don't want to invest in a relearning curve. This is definitely an alternative to consider.

You're going to end up paying overtime, even even five bucks a month per user starts to become money if you measure it on a five year basis. But if folks are really accustomed this or if you have clients who work with Microsoft stuff a lot that's an alternative consider a last one little Different in that it's not. It's not installed software in the same sense not installed native code. The way Microsoft Office or the OpenOffice things are, is Google's Google Docs suite on Google believes that Google believes that stuff can happen out there on the net, and that you don't have to have native software running just written for this device that you update, etc, etc. a Google Doc started as web only documents. They've become an interesting hybrid with Google's drive, Google Drive synchronization mechanism that I'll talk about.

There are younger, smaller, at least we're smaller companies that run everything on Google Docs. And it's interesting because it's very different behavior. I was at a university board presentation. They had a couple of profs come in and talk about what the students were doing. And then the students undergrads came in and talked about what they were doing. The profs teed up PowerPoint presentations, and the students paid at teed up.

Google Docs slides. I don't think they even thought about the behavior difference between the two of them. But here's the thing that happened when the students were working on their Google Docs presentation. They could be going like this on changes. I changed this, you change that I choose this, you change that. They were both working effectively on the same document.

I'll bet you that you bet you that the profs, one of them tackle the job of PowerPoint slide, emailed it to the other the other guy made modifications and edits and emailed it back. And when they got done playing version version, who's got some version, they ended up with a finished presentation, the students collaboration process with the Google solution was better If you run a synchronization mechanism, like the ones I listed off, you can get to pretty much the same place with conventional desktop software. Okay, so that's the office stuff. Now let's talk about or think about working with other people. Because that tends to be something that one ends up doing working with your team, whoever your team is, take some of the devices out of the mix. Um, the virtue of the synchronization tools that have showed up on the market in the last three to five years, roughly, is that the whole teamwork thing has become a whole bunch more seamless, in some ways more seamless than in office, local area network stuff ever managed to be for for variety of reasons on the shortlist the synchronization system.

That I know that which is not the whole list on the planet of course Dropbox box, which used to be box net Google Drive SkyDrive. Copy is relatively new and even probably don't care. So what do these guys do? In a nutshell with some some differences in features they they do about the same thing for a team trying to get work done. If you want to take a special folder for Project X, and say make sure that everyone on my team all 4567 people have all of the Project X stuff they want you do with box dotnet or SkyDrive or Google Drive or whatever, is you share just that folder of stuff. You may have a different folder with other stuff.

You might have your family photos and say I'm not sharing that with my team at work, but I do want the Project X stuff to be shared with them. What that means, and it's seamless, and it's really, really cool for getting work done is when you update the Project X budget and you hit save, not too many seconds later, that gets copied up here. And then it gets copied from there, down to everybody's drive. So your whole team has up to date, working copies of project decks, I'm missing the file copy here. Sorry about that. We'll just make that folder represent Project X.

So he's got it and he's got it and she's got it. And if they turn around and make additional changes in hit, save, those changes come back to you. And there's an additional copy up in the cloud. So if you think about it, you've actually got a couple things coming out of this one is, is a much better flow of work. You don't have to say Who's got the current copy of the Project X budget. And please, please, please don't email the Project X budget to five people, because you'll get five versions back, and it'll start multiplying five times five times five, it's a terrible way to get work done.

You use the dropbox box net one of the sync solutions sugarsync as the other one I forgot. And you'll end up with a lot more seamless, accurate, less redundancy and less of your own time sorting out document versions, which is just a crazy use of intelligent human beings time. And part of this is about some part of this is I finished that I hit save. Not that many seconds later. Everybody's got it. That also gives me redundancy.

From our company perspective, if Project X for client y, if someone accidentally hit the delete button, we actually have four or five however many other copies out on everybody else's computer and An additional copy in the cloud. And one of us has the administrative rights to go to go back and recover if one of the other folks accidentally deletes. On one other note about the copies of copies of copies. It's really beneficial in cloud solutions. As you make little changes, you make new copies with email, hard disks, floppy disks back in the day, that ended up being just a nightmare, because you're trying to guess who had which version or reconcile versions, the cloud stuff takes care of that automatically. And what most of the cloud solutions do is actually keep the previous copies at least for a span of time.

So if I say man, I hate script version C. I can log in and go say, you know what, revert this document to version B as it was just a lot better. I don't know what the heck I was thinking in the project. Our version see this appears. And we're back to working together seamlessly. And it's just beautiful. One of the pieces of advice about seek solutions is a discipline that we've developed.

I don't know that everybody does it, because it does has does have a cost in space. But I think it has a payoff a big payoff in a teamwork and, frankly, better smarts. I asked everybody to keep everything synchronized, scraps of scripts, anything that's not done with a pencil doodles, like anything that's done digitally, I say, keep it in, keep it in the folder that synced probably one appropriate to that project. Now, why does that matter? I can't count the number of times that I've had a late night Gee, I wonder how that's coming along. And I looked at it, or someone said, I'll take I'll check out that script or analysis or whatever, and they don't have to wait for me to be done.

You have to be comfortable with someone looking over your shoulder. But what That synchronization in that discipline about keeping all of the bits and pieces they're visible helps you do is look over each other's shoulders, it tends to build up ginormous folders full of versions and crap. And that's the cost, right? That's a storage cost and eventually a clutter cost. We're still fighting with the best way to manage that. Do we keep a work folder and try and keep only the current stuff there?

Do we get disciplined about throwing the old stuff into the work folder, but not deleting it? Still not a perfect solution. But storage space doesn't cost enough compared to brain time for me to care about that. So we try and keep everything in a place where everyone can get to it at all times. And you won't believe the number of times that that actually enables someone to move forward and keeps the flow between people working. I really encourage it.

Last thing I want to address in teamwork, which I think is the vital link For synchronous people going at the same time, but not physically in the same place work. That's that humble thing known as instant messaging. I am systems have been around for close to 10 years. And when I first showed up I was I was thinking, What's the big deal? I can just do all of this and email. Wrong.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong wrong. The critical things that I am does for people working together. This from my point of view, one, you know, whether the other guy or guys are there or not. I'll use Skype as my example, since I've been on Skype for ever in a day. I know that Adam is not at his keyboard, or at least not logged into Skype right now. I know that this Adam is or might be on mobile complication there.

And these two guys have relative statuses that you can see. So that's one thing. Are you there? Or not. And if you pay attention to managing your status, if I say, Don't disturb them in the middle of recording something, then everyone else on my team would get the red ball and either know not to bug me. Or if they sent a message to me, I wouldn't get beeps and pop ups and things like that.

So presence. That's the generic word for that. It sounds simple, but the IM software is watching the keyboard and setting is their activity there. Is there a person using this device? It's amazing how much difference that can make. I don't call people in my team.

I am them first, but I know that they're there or not. The messages themselves obviously, have value. You know, what's the cost of this? Should we do that? All of that stuff on it doesn't build up the clutter, that email does it doesn't build up the versioning. That email does.

Let me give you a useful dividing I know in terms of instant messaging For teams, work teams, versus consumers. Here's that here's the division that I see. And Skype is a good example of it was originally designed for consumers. Skype is pretty darn good at one to one conversations. I'll go back and forth with that. And I'll go back and forth with Jordan.

Adam does know what I said to Jordan. Jordan doesn't do what I said to Adam. In theory, I can tee up a group, I have a group chat in Skype. And we've done that from time to time. It doesn't have doesn't seem to have stuck as a habit. By contrast, more organizationally focused instant messaging systems do a couple of things that the consumer platforms like Skype AOL, I am MSN Messenger, which is dying.

Don't they actually give you some structure on all I'll use Hall as an example. Hall Hall structures things in what they call for good reason rooms. And hardly like actually like, we have a room for one of the businesses under the same visually umbrella. We try to keep all the conversations about that business in that room. It may be me going back and forth with Adam in that room. But Jordan can actually catch up on the conversation listen in so to speak, just like you would in a hall.

It's really, really empowering. And the historical thread there the historical conversation there starts to become valuable over time. Did I say painted pink or blue? Did he say I'd really like this by Thursday or Friday, I'll go back look through the through the I am thread. A lot of I am systems also allow lightweight file transfer. Skype, for example, is actually quite good at File Transfer if I've got something and I'm not going to put it in our file save folder because it's really transitory Just drag it and Skype to Jordan and he'll get a pop up and there's the file and you can look at it go.

It's just terrible. Don't do that again. Good. I'll stop. I didn't store it permanently. Don't use it on a constant basis.

That's just as crazy as using email for file transfer. It's helpful for ad hoc interactions with people as well. The key thing about it is it's the closest to real time link that you're likely to have. And as a I am systems have sort of bridged out to mobile devices. Some of what you get, or what you see with the digital natives using texting applies to Im as well. I believe it was this week that I am volume on mobile, actually past text, SMS text volume, which I think is kind of an interesting comment about the success of that.

So instant messaging is an absolute must for running a cloud and virtual organization. It's the vital link. I hope I am before I open email. If I'm in the office, I'm on I am. If I need to not be in the office in terms of concentrating and focusing, I'll either change my status or tell everyone I'm turning it off and turn it off. Don't try and run a virtual cloud organization without an IM solution of some sort.

The one thing mobile is brought to that I am space is a bit of confusion about presence. And I wish some of the I am guys would actually pay a little better attention to this used to be if George's little ball was green on Skype. I knew Jordan was at his desk. The minute he got Skype client on his mobile and I got Skype plan on my mobile. We got some ambiguity about Is he in or not? He could set Skype to be always on on his mobile was mobile is always on his person.

So does that mean he's always ready for me to pop up a message on Skype? Probably not. Having to manage that manually. doesn't really make a bunch of sense If the IM guys from mobile wanted to make me happy, their mobile client would have a better sense of whether I'm actually paying attention to that I am system at the moment on that device versus assuming that just because it's there, it's on. Just to wrap up, I didn't talk about backup, like technical hard disk backup. That's a separate category from synchronization between the teams.

So you should have a backup solution, multiple backup solutions, but don't think of them as the same thing. And don't try and shove your whole hard disk into Dropbox or Google Drive or whatever. That's it.

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