Why my move to the Cloud helped me focus on what is important
As the former owner of an IT Solution Provider business I’m very aware of how technology can help you achieve more in your business on a day-to-day basis. Automation can help streamline business processes. Digital communication can shorten sales cycles. Connectivity enables remote working. Nowadays, it’s not so much a question of whether technology can help us - it’s an expectation it can.
Expectations of IT not meeting reality
Since selling my IT business and working as a Freelancer, my expectations of what technology should deliver have often fallen short of reality. The tools I’m traditionally used to using - such as Windows and Microsoft Office - started to feel bloated and cumbersome. My frustration built as I felt these tools actually got in the way of me working the way I wanted to.
Take Microsoft Windows for example. Being a Freelancer I more often than not work from client sites and Coffee Shops with my laptop, and often have a need to quickly fire up the laptop during a meeting to make notes or to do some on-the-cuff research. The frustration I feel when my Windows laptop takes minutes to grind into action, keeping me waiting before I could do anything on the laptop quite often saw me slam the lid back down in embarrassment and inform my colleague that I’ll “make a note to look at that later”.
A “quick email” turns into a 10 minute chore
There is also the pain of Windows applications. Once the laptop has finally sprung into life, I have to wait for Microsoft Outlook to open and catch-up with sending and receiving the latest e-mail - all of which can take minutes. I've gone from wanting to send a “quick email” to twiddling my thumbs for 5-10 minutes.
Windows Update frustrations
Then there is the irritation when leaving one meeting to run to another. I go to shutdown my Windows laptop and am told that Windows wants to install 52 new system updates. I patiently wait 2-3 minutes with no real indicator of how much longer the updates will take to install. As I begin to panic about making my next meeting on time, irritation turns into open pleading with my laptop to finish its updates and let me get on!
Why I moved to the Cloud
As you can tell, I've’ve concluded that Windows is no longer the right fit for someone like me who spends most of his time out of the office and needing to take “bite sized” chunks of time with IT. I need instant-on capabilities. I need security and updates to be taken care of seamlessly and unobtrusively in the background. I need my email to be always up to date. I concluded I needed to move into the Cloud.
Moving to Google Apps
At the start of 2013 I ditched Microsoft Office and my Microsoft hosted email and moved to cloud application Google Apps. As a life-long Microsoft Outlook geek, I didn’t think I'd be able to make the switch - yet 24 hours into the move I couldn’t understand why I'd not made the move sooner.
Email became instant again. I no longer have to wait for Microsoft Outlook to open and update. As soon as I opened my Google Mail window in my web-browser - I was ready to read my latest email and send new emails.
Creating a new spreadsheet was easy - no waiting for Microsoft Excel to load. When I have an idea for a new blog post, I don’t have to wait for Microsoft Word to open. I just fire up Google Docs and start typing - in seconds. I also don’t experience the frustration of Microsoft Office crashing and losing my work - Google Apps saves my work as I type.
Swapping my Laptop for a Chromebook
My move into the Cloud went deeper. While I had moved from Microsoft Office to Google Apps, I was still using Microsoft Windows on my laptop and all the time-wasting frustrations that go with it. I took the plunge and ditched my laptop in favour of a Google Chromebook - a lightweight laptop replacement that works almost entirely in the Cloud.
To my surprise and delight, I could fire up my Chromebook during meetings and within 5-10 seconds be online and ready to work. No more embarrassment waiting for Windows to spring into life. My Chromebook never makes me wait while it is updating its software - everything is updated in the background. In short - I get to use my IT in the way I want to. Instant on. No waiting. Get the important work done and move on.
My expectations of what IT meant to my work have been set fairly high - and by moving to the Cloud with Google Apps and a Chromebook, the reality now meets those expectations again.
Don’t get me wrong. The Cloud isn’t a fit for everybody. I’m not advocating everyone dump their Windows laptop and buy a Chromebook. But if you spend a lot of time working out of the office and lead a busy life which means you want your IT to support you, rather than you work around what your IT is built to deliver, I’d consider a move into the Cloud.