Or take another scenario; you have an iPad and a laptop. You want to be able to access your files on both devices without the trouble and time it takes to constantly email yourself or sync your tablet. What you need is to get your files off of your computers and onto the web (or “into the cloud”). If your computer fails, no worries! You just need a computer with web-access. If you have multiple devices, maybe an iPad and a Laptop, you can easily switch between them because neither machine is the holder of your files.
This is the heart of the idea of the so-called cloud. I know, “what is the cloud”, right? There are different concepts and meanings for what the ever-indefinable cloud actually is. We are going to ignore the technical definitions and talk about what I call the digital cloud. The digital cloud is based around our life. It comes down to having all our files available on the web. Our files, while still secure, are useable by any machine we happen to be at. Think of what FaceBook does for storing our photos. The digital cloud encompasses our photos, books, music, videos, writings, and (yes!) our work. Remember, over half of our waking hours are spent working; so our digital life definitely includes our work.
When it comes to protecting our personal files there is a wide set of options. Services like FaceBook, Shutterfly, and Evernote preserve our photos, videos, and writings. In the realm of music, Apples’ iCloud is currently without competition. But what about our business-related files? This is a tricky question because while our work is a part of our digital life, it is not appropriate to store theses files on our personal websites.
This is where your company needs to be proactive. Your company should provide a solution that fills this role. Some companies may be fine with online tools like Google Docs to store files in the cloud, however most companies are not. They have security, legal and regulatory concerns that demand their files and data are stored in very particular ways.
For your company, having such a solution has many benefits. Business productivity grows by leaps and bounds as disparate teams are able to better collaborate on projects and documents together. Enterprise search can cut down on redundant work. Your company can assure business continuity in the case of computer or staff loss. It can assure regulatory compliance. Legal can utilize eDiscovery. Proper document retention can be assured. The list goes on.
The business answer to this problem is Enterprise Content Management (ECM). ECM solutions like SharePoint allow companies to provide this functionality to their employees. Instead of saving your files to your computer, you can save them to your personal space in SharePoint (called a MySite). Or you can save them to a team site that others can easily access and collaborate on. Instead of filling up your co-workers inboxes with far-too-large files, you simply email the link to the document. ECM solutions allow your company to assure that the files are kept in line with company, state and federal guidelines. And they assure that when your computer fails, the work you have done is just a quick and secure web search away.
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Sabel Collaborations is a SharePoint consulting and development firm headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. It focuses on key areas of corporate IT such as team collaboration, business process improvement, document automation, regulatory compliance and portal development. They can be found online at http://sabelcollab.com .