If you are not sure about the benefits of online collaboration workspaces and cloud computing, I recommend “The virtual workplace is a ‘must’ not a ‘should,’“ (KM World, June 2010) a great article authored by Art Murray and Mirghani Mohamed of Applied Knowledge Sciences. The virtual workplace is one in which employees can work from anywhere that has internet access. It relies on web-based technology like GroveSite’s online collaboration workspaces and online databases. Today you can have your accounting online (think Quickbooks), your sales pipeline online (think Salesforce CRM), your intranet, customer project portals, and vendor collaboration online (think GroveSite). My laptop died a few years ago and I was able to pick up within the hour on a borrowed machine; all I needed was an internet connection and my login information to access all my prospects and projects. Not one iota of data was lost, and productivity loss was almost nil.
What is the cost of NOT having online information and work technologies? Murray and Mohamed cite the “snowpocalypse,” the blizzard that shut down many Washington DC government offices for four days, as costing a half-billion dollars in lost work time. I remember working with one of GroveSite’s clients in DC during that storm. She was curled up at home, logged into her teams’ GroveSites and continuing to work. Product designers at our retail clients can [and do] work from home to collaborate with overseas vendors, even though their corporate offices are socked in by wintry weather. If a natural disaster is significant enough to wipe out a brick-and-mortar workplace, companies with traditional brick-and-mortar computing may be out of business. Online technologies are a true boon for keeping productivity high, managing risk, and ensuring business continuity.
Another great point made by Murray and Mohamed is how online workplaces preserve knowledge. We speak about this all the time at GroveSite – not just in regard to disaster recovery – but in the day-to-day life of a project team or department. A key project leader or subject expert might retire or leave your company, but if the project’s knowledge – files, discussions, workplans, resources, history – is in an online project site, that knowledge is not lost. Think how quickly new team members can come up to speed.
Kudos to the authors for summarizing the rationale for online technologies and workplaces. We live and breathe this every day!