Everyone in the tech and communications worlds is talking about ‘The Cloud.’ And so have we. The concept might seem new, but really it’s the term, , that’s new.
But even as we send our entertainment, files, and photos to iCloud, Dropbox, and Flickr (etc.), we might feel like the cloud provides a one-to-one relationship. I send my stuff to a service, you sign in to the service, you see my stuff.
But as JD Lasica shows us with one of his great Top 10 lists, there’s plenty of free-to-inexpensive software out there to make the cloud a viable medium for collaboration. Nonprofits and charities really should take advantage of these technologies: collaboration in the cloud means fewer trips to regional offices (saving fuel and money), quicker turn around on on-house projects to keep them timely, and convenient ways to update colleagues on-the-fly when the big donor comes through.
We picked three of these gems of the ten that we would like to call a bit extra attention to.
We first call out Dropbox as a great data-sync service, and one that is free up to 2GB. True, Dropbox got into some hot water with the US Federal Trade Commission about its encryption technology – at least what it told customers its encryption entailed. Though certainly cause for concern, especially for certain kinds of documents containing donors’ information for example, the convenience of Dropbox is difficult to beat: link up any number of Macs, Windows, or Linux machines along with any iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry, and everyone in your organization will be on the same page.
Our tech guru and periodic blog contributor, Scott Caldarelli, turned us on to which works similarly and with the same breadth of platforms/devices. It too is free – to 5GB, but it claims much tied both to the files being exchanged and the computers exchanging them.
Next is LinkedIn. Perhaps the feather in the cap of Huddle is that it helps organize Teams and Activities to help keep track of who is working on what when. As different teams reach their goals, some simple project-management helps oversee the upcoming steps., which creates an entire online collaboration space: contacts, project management, file sharing, even phone- and web-conferencing tools. Huddle even has to plug it in to iPhone and Blackberry devices, Microsoft Office, and even social networks like
Huddle might be a bit much for a smaller organization, especially if breaking out into teams for larger projects is not a common feature of your business’s workflow. But who doesn’t need help keeping people’s schedules in line? That’s wherecomes is – and we think this scheduling-in-the-cloud app could be a real winner.
The person with the Tungle.me account becomes a de facto planner for anyone needed for a meeting, phonecall, deadline… That person establishes a calendar template (in all of 1 minute), then picks days and hours convenient/necessary for the meeting, etc. She/he can then email everyone a link directly to the calendar, where the recipients can put in their available times without seeing what others (besides the person with the account) has put. Then the planner can see his/her entire calendar, including any overlapping times the team can meet.
Once the time is set, all the partners get an email allowing them to download the nailed-down meeting in their Google, Outlook, iCal, LotusNotes(Really?!), WindowsLive and Yahoo! Calendars. That’s got to cover just about anyone.
This 2 1/2-minute YouTube video gives a better sense of just how easy it can be to keep your colleagues on schedule:
We hope you find our guide through JD’s guide useful as you keep your office planning neat and accessible to anyone on a network. Have a good weekend.