Just finished a morning meeting at a lovely downtown coffee shop and I could head back to my office or I could order another coffee, pop on my iPad, and get right to writing this week’s post about the anywhere office. That is the goal for today, to get an article written, so what do I need to get that done? There’s a buzz here, people meeting and talking business, but no real distractions. They have wifi and good coffee, and for writing, we have Office 365. That means a word processor on my iPad, live edits from Marketing (from wherever she’s working this morning), and my work automatically getting saved to the company’s cloud storage.
To pick up the vehicle metaphor from Part 1 of this series on the anywhere workplace, I have the right containers to hold the cargo I need in the vehicle I’m in, plus the roads to get everything to the destination.
The anywhere workplace exists now because of the combination of widely-available internet access, cloud-based tools and information storage that work with pretty much all your hardware.
If you do not have solid reliable high-speed internet, any move to the anywhere workplace will be a non-starter. Like the pipes and plumbing required for modern running water, that means everything between your phone and the “source.” Most larger cities in North America have big enough pipes — both in terms of wired/wifi internet and cellular data services — but not always to every part of the city, and people don’t only work in the city. For example, one of our early customers, working in the Canadian north, drove to the top of a hill, the same time every week, in order to be in range of the closest cellular tower. Sometimes the problem is much smaller… bad wiring in your office, a cheap router that’s fallen behind a file cabinet, staff streaming internet radio, mice chewing through cabling… all issues we’ve seen in trying to get the foundation of good internet needed for the anywhere workplace. Even a brief interruption… like when the wifi in the coffee shop dropped for all of three seconds as I was writing this article … can mean losing data, even if it is only the last sentence you typed.
With the right internet access in place, you open up a whole new dimension of cloud computing services: file storage and sharing, word processors and spreadsheet tools, accounting software, from full servers down to tools to manage your street parking. Many of them look very similar, but each has developed in response to specific needs. Some have expanded in their scope, some have become more and more specialized. Like the challenge of choosing the right hardware in a sea of options, finding the right match between your strategic goals & business processes and the right software will require some careful analysis. Some tools were designed from the ground up with business needs in mind, but might not be as easy to use. Other tools are simple and slick to use, but may not necessarily have the ability to protect your company’s data to the level required by your industry.
Running a business is a game of calculated risks, but you need the right information with which to make an accurate risk assessment. Does the ease-of-use of one file-sharing service translate into enough increased productivity to justify less control over who can delete the files? Is the internet access in your branch office reliable enough, or their dependence on a cloud-based accounting system low enough, that your business can continue to run if they lose access once in a while? Or do you have a mission-critical function that would require added investment into high speed internet in order for it to work in the cloud, adding to the total cost and possibly erasing the potential cost savings of moving off a server in your office.
As with choosing the right hardware for your anywhere workplace, choosing the supporting services requires stepping back and really looking at what you business needs are. What are you trying to accomplish? Who needs what information in your company? And how will you get it to them?