Ok let’s talk tech for a minute. We have all heard the term “the cloud.” But do you really know what it is? Or how to best use it for your agency? Admittedly, I am still learning ways to use it to make my job easier and I am interested in your tips as well, so please leave a comment!
To start with, the “cloud” is really nothing more than an old friend—the “Internet.” But the Internet is so big and vast—who wants to put their stuff in there? Enter the “cloud”, along with some security measures, and you have a secure place to store your data that is available to you 24/7 on your Internet connected computer, tablet, or phone.
Whenever you have uploaded photos to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (is that still a thing?), Dropbox, Snapfish, etc., you are using the cloud. I slowly began to embrace the cloud and decided to list the ways that I personally use it. Hopefully one or two of them might prove useful to you.
Photo and Video Storage. Sure I upload to Facebook and other social media. But my prime camera now is my iPhone and I do not share all of my images to my social media profiles. But I do not want to use up all my storage space. Enter Dropbox: I have enabled the setting to automatically upload camera photos and videos directly to my Dropbox account. In that way, if I ever lose the phone, the photos live on in the cloud. Need a video of that last cruise for a client—it’s right there in my pocket, their pocket, or their desktop!
File Storage. I have also moved the “My Documents” folder on my Mac to Dropbox. It is a little dicey when you cannot access the Internet or a Wi-Fi hotspot goes down; but it is incredibly convenient when talking with a client and you need to pull up an old itinerary or invoice that you had not thought about printing to take with you. This option really allows you to cut back on CDs and flash drives.
Synchronization. Way back when, TRAMS developed a “sync” option that would synchronize a web-based version of their software with a desktop version. At best, it was wonky; it was likely one of the most frustrating processes for their support personnel. But we have come a long way today. The synchronization afforded by Dropbox, Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, etc., is nearly flawless. Snap a photo on your phone and within a few minutes, someone at your office can access it. Someone in the office modifies a document, and you can pull the modified version down to your tablet half a world away in less than two minutes.
Passwords. They are a hassle. I remember moving my business accounts from First Union Bank because they required (at one point) a monthly change of password with a minimum of 11 characters (upper, lower, numeric, special character—you know the drill), that had not been used in the past 36 months. Hello! You are just begging for a sticky note on the computer that says “password here.” But today, there are several companies that can store and generate the complex passwords for you, and all can be synced over the cloud. So, with a single user name and password, you have access to ALL of your passwords for your accounts and sites. Pull up a page in the public library and enter your master password and you are in. It makes it very easy!
To Do. I am old school and still work off lists. I enjoy checking off completed tasks (Monday column… check!) and seeing my progress. The cloud assists me with that. I also use my lists for hare-brained schemes I dream up. If I wake in the middle of the night with a idea for a group trip, I put it in my to-do list and all of a sudden it appears on my desktop. If I am with a client and check off that I met with them, all of my devices are up to date virtually instantaneously.
Music and Games. Of course life is not all work. Over the years, I have amassed a huge music library. While I can use services like Spotify, why pay twice for the music you already bought? I have some cloud storage with Apple and via the synchronization, my entire library is at my fingertips on my phone. Yes, I can store some music locally, but eventually it all goes into the cloud and comes to me when I need it. There is a slight delay while it downloads a copy to play, but nothing that drives me nuts! I am not a huge gamer (and if anyone sends me another Candy Crush invite…) but I do play Words With Friends, Quiz Up, and Trivia Crack when I have some down time. Via the cloud, these games (and their moves) are ready to go on all devices. In line at the grocery store, I have my iPhone. Upstairs in bed before the news, I might have my tablet. The cloud has made it very simple.
Of course there are many other ways to use the cloud. How do you use it in your business? What apps, programs, and websites do you employ? Leave me a comment and let’s share the wealth!