Today’s guest blogger is Outi Lammi. She’s a trainer who has authored several books about IT and communications. Her company helps Finnish companies and communities to work smarter. As an entrepreneur she knows that the utilization of the correct tools is a vital part of doing business. In this blogpost she’ll write about the benefits of cloud services.
Cloud services bring your work wherever you want to
The turn of the year is approaching and with it the annual debate about paper calendars vs. digital ones. Many small entrepreneurs already handle their work related schedules with a digital calendar, and when the company has more than one employee, the calendars are often shared also. This is marvelous progress! It’s very handy to see where your co-workers are going to be on a given moment. This allows you for example to propose a time for an important meeting right now, on any device, instead of waiting for the key person to be available.
What about other everyday tools that are essential to running your business? I hope your company doesn’t live in the age of notepads and memory sticks. It’s of course a good thing that information is written down at least on some level and that vital files are backed up from the hard drives of laptops to another physical mean of storage, but let’s face it: pieces of paper notes and memory sticks are information security risks! The risk arises from the way they are used. Very few of us take backup copies of our paper notebooks. What happens if you forget your notebook to your commuter train or your dog gnarls the notebook into a mess? And the memory stick is of not much use after a fire or a water damage or after it has been stolen.
Keep your ideas safe and your notes up-to-date
I’ve employed a digital notebook for years. I’m not trying to take away the pleasure of writing by hand from anyone, and I must confess: my own desk, all of my bags and laptop cases come equipped with a paper notebook. It’s not about what is used instead of why and how! Drawing by hand can help you think through and solve complex issues. Instead not a single webpage address or other piece of information from the internet should be written down on a paper notebook. Web-based information is usually by its nature a link, a text that includes links or graphic. Isn’t it natural to store digital material in the same way as it’s used? I also use my digital notebook to plan my training sessions and seminars and make the mood charts for my presentations.
Because my digital notebook can be accessed through a cloud service with all of my devices it’s effortless to use it wherever I get the next idea for a new blogpost or presentation. The human brain seems to have some sort of a black hole mechanism in it because even the brightest of our ideas are completely forgotten in about a minute unless written down. I can use the notebook on my smartphone to save ideas while waiting for the bus. Usually I do this by writing, but I can also take photos to help me remember. Nothing prevents you from dictating your notes either!
A cloud office always fits your needs perfectly
I work alone, if you don’t count my two office dogs. Nevertheless I pay a monthly fee for a cloud service that is also used by companies that are a thousand times bigger than mine. That’s because I have chosen a subscription that fits the needs of my company and its activities. I of course don’t need a messaging app to communicate with my office dogs. Instead I use my cloud office to synchronize my calendar and notebook and to keep my most important projects available up-to-date, no matter where I am. If I’m in another city on a business trip and for example a cancelled meeting leads me to having an hour or two to spare I can go to the nearest café or library to edit the materials for my next training session. Storing documents in the cloud works exactly like your calendar or your notebook: if you don’t have your laptop with you, you can write with your tablet and resume where you left the document once you’re back to your desk.
Collaboration knows no organizational boundaries
Cloud services are of great help in collaborative projects. Let’s imagine a situation where you and your associate are working on preparing an offer for a third party. Instead of playing ping pong by email, sending the draft back and forth, the documents resides online in the cloud. What has been changed and by whom can been seen straight away and can be commented. The offer can even be edited by both of you simultaneously while chatting about contents. Digital notebooks can be shared too or one can be created just for this project.
More and more of my customers are familiar with utilizing the information that I share in the cloud. This makes it easier to e.g. deliver my training materials and keeping them up-to-date.
Stop spending time on unnecessary routines
Thanks to cloud services a small business can start using exactly the kinds of tools it needs, right from the get-go. Cloud services are very cheap compared to e.g. running an own server. Some services are straight-out free if the amount of users is very limited. Tasks which can be made easier by cloud services include anything from project management to customer service and accounting. As a matter of fact employing cloud services can save the small entrepreneur from the need of renting an office.
Do you still remember the times when updating your software meant having to stop working while the computer crawlingly did the updating? Those days are long gone. Cloud services tend to be updated often, in small portions.
Cloud services worth recommending:
An entrepreneur’s business management tools and currency account
Outi Lammi is a trainer/coach and an author of several books on IT and communications. Her company helps Finnish companies and communities work smarter.