As an executive who seems to make his office almost any where I travel, it often makes me wonder why I would ever need an IT Manager again? In my backpack and with the cloud, I am the mobile enterprise, an army of one. I have my laptop, my tablet and at least two mobile phones with me as I travel to and from the office, to meetings, cafes, restaurants, airports, anywhere. WiFi abounds, and so does power outlets, and tables and chairs. What I don’t carry with me, is in the cloud. And once my tools and services are setup, the low overhead of needed a dedicated IT staff seems to be afterthought. Here are some things to consider if you want to run an unstaffed IT department in your company.
Gmail for Business is probably one of the most essential tools to get started with. It’s easy to setup, you pay monthly based on the number of people you have in your organization and that’s it. Email, Calendar, Contact Lists, IM Chat, Groups, Docs and so much more. If you’re an Android user, setting it up with your smartphone, couldn’t be easier. While some of the apps that Google are still rough around the edges, setting up a new employee takes less than 5 minutes.
Local storage on your device is great, but sharing is divine. Box.net or Dropbox are great to have so you can share tons of documents and files. Attachments via email is not reliable and a bit slow. Some companies even limit the size of attachments in order to pare down the size of email folders on the server.
If you need to send a large file to someone, and you cannot share it through Dropbox or Box.net, try using YouSendIt. It’s a great way to send big presentations, graphic files for print or moving data. “Sneakernet in the Cloud” is great when you cannot email a large attachment due to server limitations.
Evernote has gain a lot of success on the fact that it has created an uber-notepad application that helps your both get your ideas digitized and organized. In full disclosure, I am not a user of this app, but from what I hear from those who are, they really like it. Similar to Dropbox, Evernote also has a lot of features to tag and later search for all kinds of documents, notes, etc.
Nowadays, I cannot imagine anyone in business who does have Skype when calling someone Internationally. Skype has definitely made the world smaller and I’ve used it for everything from business negotiations, product demonstrations, to even video interviews. Without this, running a 24×7 business would be impossible. On average, in my current role at my company, I regularly chat with someone in at least six countries a week if not more. The costs using a traditional phone line would be astronomical. And even their mobile client has gotten significantly better, where I had a conference call from my car on US 101 to South Africa on the AT&T 3G network without any dropped packets.
While all of these great tools can enhance the workplace and make anyone productive from nearly anywhere with an Internet connection, we need to be careful about the power we have given to self-administer. If you’re a freelance consultant or working at a small startup, these tools are what helps drive and impact growth. But if you’re at a large company, these tools can present a lot of heartburn for the IT organization. The lack of control, the free distribution of data and information in the open can be extremely unsettling. But one this is true – the innovation will continue and people will have to adapt to all the innovate ways to conduct business, whenever and where ever they go.