Collaboration is everywhere, and Cloud Services are proving to be a wonderful collaboration tool. Take this weekend for example. I was helping a husband and wife team with some marketing for their business. They had cards with their customer contact information, they had some printed articles written by a colleague, and copies of old brochures that they wanted to refresh with a new look.
While one of them entered the contact list into a cloud spreadsheet, the other used the text-to-voice feature on a smart phone to dictate the articles and brochure content into a word processing document that was located in the cloud. After dictating the content from the phone, he edited the content directly in the online document on his computer. While they were doing the data entry and copy creation, I worked on making the brochures, using the content that had been edited in these documents.
We were working on three separate machines, all in the same room. My team’s knowledge of computers was fairly basic, and thus the cloud experience offered a very calm space where we could all see the work at the same time and talk through the work, without the need to talk through the steps of transmitting the work or walking around the desk to view someone’s monitor. I was able to access the content without the pesky need to email or upload files, and it was almost pure heaven.
When a field was missing in the contact list, I was able to add it to the spreadsheet in my browser, and when it showed up on her end, she could enter the necessary information. When he needed bullets in his content, I could just give him bullets without needing to talk him through how to create them, or walk over to his machine to add them.
Before working in the cloud, we would have needed a local server, USB sticks, or sent copious emails to each other, wasting a lot of time, a lot of bandwidth, but most of all, causing a lot of confusion. Work would have stopped every time another person needed to review the files because having more than one person in the same file was almost impossible.
Another benefit of working in the cloud is that the content is saved every few seconds. That meant that if someone accidentally closed a browser, the work just waited for them to return whenever they were ready. There was no panic of having forgotten to save the document. Remember those days of panic? Yea, me too.
This was their first experience truly working in the cloud and I think they were impressed. From my standpoint, I enjoyed not having to take over someone’s machine to fix issues here and there. Whenever I have to do that, I feel like I am in someone’s space, invading their computer. And while I am always happy to teach anyone what they need, sometimes all that learning can be overwhelming and take away from the creativity needed to develop content. Being able to resolve things from my own machine while leaving them in their space and their own thoughts was an added benefit of working in this collaborative environment.