Collaboration: The new basics of Web
June 16, 2014
Rob Gaedtke's professional biography says he has a straightforward job as vice president of creative services at Reno's KPS3:
"Develop smart ways to get people to take action."
Increasingly, Gaedtke says, the smart ways that he gets his team to take action rely on the use of cloud-based tools that allow digital collaboration.
And he believes that adept use of tools for collaboration are on their way to becoming a basic requirement for business people — much like use of e-mail became widely adopted within the last couple of decades.
"For business today, it's a form of marketing," he says. "It's a perception issue. It hurts you if you can't use these tools."
Among the tools that Gaedtke suggests as basics:
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• Slack, a free service which essentially operates as a work-focused chat room. Groups can be created — the members of a team working on a project, all the employees in a regional office — and the chat conversations are both archived and searchable.
"It allows you to interrupt someone without calling them," says Gaedtke.
He says Slack is particularly useful as e-mail has become overused and senders' expectation of a fast response to an e-mail inquiry increasingly are unrealistic.
Chat services such as Slack speed the conversation.
• Google Docs, the cloud-based office suite that's replaced Excel and Word in many offices.
Gaedtke says a major selling point is this: Users can edit documents together, in real time. Documents can be shared, opened and edited by multiple users simultaneously.
Another key feature, the KPS3 executive says, is a full revision history, which allows users to see every change that was made.
• Office 365, the Microsoft product that moves Office products to a cloud setting. For folks who are most comfortable in continuing with Office applications, Office 365 provides them with cloud-based tools for collaboration on documents, shared calendars and online conference.
• Dropbox, increasingly an essential tool for moving large files that overwhelm e-mail. Photographers, advertising agencies and others professionals who routinely share large files such as videos rely on Dropbox for Business service.
• Cloud App. It's not for everyone, but Gaedtke says KPS3's staff makes extensive use of this tool. Essentially, it allows users to quickly and easily share screen shots. Who needs it? A Web developer who wants to get a quick look at what's happening on a user's screen, for one.
The benefits of the use of tools for collaboration generally become apparent quickly after their adoption by a business.
"The power of these tools is found in the speed of getting the task finished," Gaedtke says.
So why aren't they used more widely by northern Nevada companies?
In some instances, Gaedtke says managers who make decisions for the office are uneasy about adoption of new technologies, particularly cloud-based services that cause unease about security.
In other cases, he says information technology departments have been slow to adopt cloud-based services that are outside their immediate control.
A key issue that needs to be understood with the adoption of any business-collaboration tool, Gaedtke says, is the rules that govern the ways that workers can access a document and what they can do with it once they've got it open.
But the answers to that question — and others that arise — are generally easily answered through one of the many tutorials available in print and video versions.