Don’t get lost in the cloud.
I’ve always thought minimalism as some terrible movement that turns homes into art galleries or morgues, all blank white walls and stainless steel surfaces.
It turns out that minimalism in a business context is a very worthy goal. Saasu CEO Marc Lehmann has written a brilliant post about the virtues of minimalism (oh spreadsheets, how we hate to love them). A couple of points struck a chord and showed that poor use of cloud services can actually increase complexity and administration.
These are three problem areas in my cloud usage that businesses would do well to address in their own.
1. Contacts must sync in all applications.
It’s amazing how important it is to keep a list of people updated between applications. The staggering thing is how few cloud apps actually do it. Some cloud apps are outright deceptive (I’m looking at you, Quote Roller) when they promise to sync contacts with your CRM or Google Apps but instead offer a once-off import process. You still have to re-import contacts by clicking on the import button whenever you want to refresh the list. Ok, so it’s not arduous but it’s the kind of distraction that, repeated a hundred times, makes it just that much harder to get the job done.
Capsule CRM is another culprit – it only does one-way syncing with Google Apps, which means you can’t update a contact in Google Contacts if you want the information to apear in Capsule CRM. I hate being forced to work a certain way because of technology limitations.
My to-do: Work out which apps sync contacts, test the syncing works, and drop those that don’t. Make two-way contact syncing a prerequisite for new apps I look at.
2. Mobile devices must sync to the cloud.
If there’s one thing that will move me from an iPhone to an Android phone it’s the hassle of syncing iOS with Google Apps. I spent half an hour this morning trying to work out if my Contacts on the iPhone are syncing with my Google Apps account or another Google account. It turns out it’s not syncing with any of them – or even iCloud, despite the phone’s setting saying otherwise.
My to-do: Double check that my tablet and phone are syncing properly with cloud apps. If they can’t, look at changing to devices that can.
3. Decide where information will be stored.
Marc recommends cutting down on the number of digital cupboards for your files. It’s almost impossible to keep track of files when people are sharing them with you using their preferred cloud platform rather than yours. I use Google Apps but receive files in DropBox, SkyDrive, FTP and so on. Not to mention having two Google Apps domains with their own Google Drives.
But this is also a huge problem with cloud apps that use internal messaging. How do you remember the last conversation with a customer? Was it a note in LinkedIn, a comment on your quote in Quote Roller, an email in Google Apps or a text on your phone? Just last week I had to hunt through all four programs to find the answer.
My to-do: Be stricter with saving files into one filing system and export them to other platforms on request. As for unified communications, I’m open to suggestions.
What’s your biggest issue with cloud sprawl?