Sep 012014
servers running business cloud computer applications

This post is one in a series of four sponsored stories brought to you by Nuffnang.

A few months after the iPad was launched in 2010 I was at an event that showed how quickly cloud computing was changing the workplace.

The event was a demonstration on cloud computing services to a room full of company directors and the organisers had assumed they would be scarcely capable of using a web browser.

It turned out the organisers were wrong, one of the older directors waved his iPad around and declared the device had changed his life.

“We used to get a fat parcel of papers a week before a board meeting,” he said. “We’d be ringing each other up to discuss things and no-one knew if they were Arthur or Martha.”

“Now all the documents are uploaded and we can all work on them, take notes and see what each other has to say. It saves us a heap of work.”

This gentlemen was, to be polite, a pre-baby boomer and a director of a medium sized insurance company. This was not a business full of hipster Gen-Ys at a funky startup.

We should also keep in mind this conversation was four years ago when the online tools were far more basic, smartphones were not as refined as today and mobile internet wasn’t as affordable or accessible.

Today almost every employee has access to the web and collaboration tools through their smartphone, tablet computer or laptop and this gives every business the opportunity to be doing what that insurance company had in place for its directors in 2010.

Shortly after that conversation I was speaking at a technology conference in country New South Wales about this and during one of the sessions one of the attendees described how her timber yard had improved productivity through using online spreadsheets.

In the past the timberyard had used paper based systems to give customers quotes. From the salesman’s visit it could take up to two weeks for the business to get prices back to prospective clients.

Once on the cloud the sales team could access shared documents, price lists and brochures which allowed them to write up quotes on the spot, get them immediately approved by their managers and into the clients’ hands while still on the site.

“We were winning jobs simply because we were so fast,” the lady told me.

It’s tempting to think all of the airy talk about collaboration is just for sexy startup companies but as an old school insurance company in Melbourne and a timberyard in New South Wales shows, cloud services are delivering real productivity and sales improvements to all sorts of industries.

For all businesses, the greatest challenge is getting staff working together effectively, there’s now no reason for any company not to be using cloud services to give the workplace a boost.

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