Over the past 3 weeks, I have gone through a radical personal “conversion”. My work life is now 100% cloud based. Out are laptop oriented tools like Outlook and OneNote. In their place are Gmail, Evernote, Google Tasks, and Dropbox.
Here are just a few examples of how my work-life has changed for the better:
Being a “digital packrat” I have all of my emails dating back to 2004 and files dating back to 2001. Searching that entire knowledge base would take me 30 seconds per query in Windows Desktop/Outlook. In Gmail, the results are instant. It’s also a lot faster to type and read emails on GMail than on Office.
I’m typing this blog on Evernote currently. It saves my work every 10 seconds. The days of me losing work due to forgetting to save are drawing to a close.
All of the the tools I mentioned are chock-full of great intuitive features, and new features are constantly added. I’m no longer tied to Microsoft’s biannual upgrades.
Google Documents allow for dead-simple simultaneous document editing. Dropbox allows me to share folders full of documents with whomever I’m collaborating with at the moment,.
What About Everyone Else?
Because I am an independent contractor, I have the flexibility to choose the tools I use for work. However, in most corporate environments the typical worker cannot walk into her friendly-neighborhood IT department and say “gee, I really would like to migrate my corporate email off of Exchange and on to Gmail. I’ll work better that way.”
It makes me think that we’re missing the mark when we talk about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). More and more, our smartphones are becoming commoditized platforms. The real innovation is not on-device, it’s in the cloud. Whether I use iOS or Android matters less and less. BYOD is a response to an issue for the last 5 years. Handling employee interaction with the cloud is a question for the next 5. The question that IT departments need to be asking is not “do we let you use your iPhone?” It’s “Do we let you bring your own cloud” (BYOC)?
My belief is that the smart nimble organizations will do precisely this. HR has a big role to play in this arena in its role as advocate for employee productivity. HR should be pushing the rest of the business to embrace these tools internally and develop policies that allow their knowledge workers to use them as well.
Like it or not, the cloud is here. Smart organizations will embrace it and benefit from it. Other organizations with put up walls to prevent “bad behavior”. Either way,developing a deliberate strategy for companies will allow knowledge workers will interact with their personal clouds needs to be a top priority and soon..
Brandon is a SAP HCM Consultant. You can follow him on twitter @brandontombs