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Modern Workplace: Benefits and Challenges

The modern workplace brings together teams, information, and processes to empower our teams and enable our businesses. Powered by cloud, getting the most out of our systems requires more than simply moving from one system to another. Managing adoption, ensuring users understand how to use tools effectively, increases individual and team productivity and efficiency.

5 Benefits

Most of our businesses realize benefits when we create our modern workplace.

1 Faster and more reliable communication
The modern workplace improves our ability to communicate. Beyond fast Internet connections, the integration of voice, messaging, audio/video conferencing, file sharing, real-time collaboration, and other tools lets us work together and share information in the ways that work best for us. Secure access from virtually anywhere enables us to work where we are most productive.

2 Enhanced efficiency and productivity
The modern workplace ushers in efficiency and productivity in many ways. Automating tasks and workflows, improved access to files and information, and embedded AI help users complete work more effectively.

3 Lower costs; Higher profits
Technology-driven increases in efficiency and productivity decrease operating costs. Reduced travel, faster time to market, quicker customer response times, and faster and more effective decision-making all result from the reliability, mobility, and productivity of a modern workplace.  These benefits save time and money, and drive revenue and profits.

4 Greater transparency and interconnected operations
You can replace complex, bureaucratic processes when you match access to data and information with updated processes that take advantage of integrated, secure applications, tools, and services. Whether simple file sharing or ensuring you have one record of customer information across your systems, the modern workplace helps connect, streamline, and simplify.

5 Improved security
Modern workplaces are more secure. Integrated, layered security is embedded into the architecture of cloud services, designed and built to meet your security and data privacy needs. Beyond the traditional focus of protecting physical computers in specific locations, security for the modern workplace protects the systems, networks, applications, data, and processes. You also protect your people with identity and access management that removes the physical boundaries of security.

3 Challenges

Moving to a modern workplace, like any, change comes with challenges.

Resistance to Change
Even when they understand the objectives and benefits, some members of your team will hesitate to embrace change. Helping team members understand how the changes will benefit them individually —  how it will enable them succeed — improves buy-in and acceptance. Offering tools to help them learn and apply new features and capabilities supports their personal growth and overall adoption of new apps, tools, and processes.

Inadequate Training
Turning on a new app, tool, or process is not enough. “One and Done” sessions are not effective.  To fully benefit from your modern workplace investments, your team needs to understand your apps and tools as they use them. Individuals retain and apply learning best when they have time to use what they have learned. Adoption plans that provide training and support relevant to a person’s role and responsibility in small, manageable doses, over time are most effective.

Mismatched Technology
Technology for the sake of technology leads to disaster. Picking the best technology that is not the best fit creates problems. Start your selection process by defining your business goals and objectives. Identify the types of technologies you need and want to support your objectives. Then select the specific technologies that match your prioritized needs and wants.

Your Next Steps

Email us or complete our contact form to discuss how your modern workplace can help your business thrive and grow.

What You Don’t Know Can’t Help You

I expect you have heard the old saying:

“What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” — Anonymous

In the cloud-y world of IT services and solutions, the lesson is better expressed as:

“What you don’t know, can’t help you!” — Allen Falcon

For a long time, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) moved to the cloud to replace existing services with more efficient, secure, and accessible cloud services. This was good for a while, but the landscape has and will continue to change. Now, when we talk to SMBs like yours about current IT services and the cloud, we talk about your business objectives and priorities. We talk about your growth opportunities, challenges to overcome, and how we can help you and your business succeed.

Today’s cloud services reflect your need for business results.

Cloud services, like Microsoft 365 Business, include a range of additional apps new to Office and, in most cases, unique to the cloud.  These apps give you access to value-add tools designed to help your business, such as:

  • Outlook Customer Manager: A simple contact manager and CRM tool that integrates with your existing inbox, calendar, and contacts
  • Bookings: An app that allows customers to easily self-schedule appointments from available time slots
  • Listings: A marketing app to build online pages and presence on Facebook, Google, and other platforms
  • MileIQ: Automated mileage tracking app for expense reports and/or tax filings
  • Connections: An easy-to-use app for simple email marketing tasks and campaigns
  • Flow: Automate processes, work flows, and approvals

These apps are joined by low-cost add-on services that let you to consolidate and simplify your IT environment — and save money.  For example, in Microsoft 365, adding PSTN conferencing gives you a standard telephone bridge for any Skype for Business or Teams conference call.  You can replace paid conferencing and web meeting services like WebEx, Zoom, and GoToMeeting with a tool that truly integrates with Outlook, your inbox, and your calendar.  At a cost of only $4 per user per month, and the ability to limit your purchase to users with a defined need, you can dramatically lower the cost of audio and video conferencing while providing a better experience for organizers and attendees.

Clearly, Microsoft 365 is not simply “Office in the Cloud.”  The value-add apps, low cost add-on services, and more than a half dozen additional security features in Microsoft 365 create a more robust ecosystem for productivity, efficiency, and growth.

The Challenge is Adoption.

Adding value only happens when your team is aware of, and knows how to use, the broad range of capabilities in services like Microsoft 365.  Getting your team from Point A to Point B, and then Point C, takes effort.

Here are some ideas to help you empower your team and enable your business:

  • Don’t Overwhelm:
    • Presenting too many capabilities, or too much training, all at once can overwhelm your team. Instead of understanding how they can do their jobs more efficiently, they may feel lost.
    • Not knowing where to start leads to paralysis.
  • Start with the Familiar:
    • Even the traditional Office applications (Word, Excel, etc.) have features that are unique to the Microsoft 365 versions and ecosystem.
    • Refresh your team’s knowledge of the apps they already use and know, adding these incremental productivity features into the mix.
  • Focus on Capabilities Specific to each Role:
    • Not every person needs every app or feature.
    • Focus on matching specific features, apps, and capabilities to the people on your team that will benefit the most.
    • Lessons and learning should be relevant to each team member’s job.
  • Provide Continuous Learning for Continuous Improvement:
    • Make learning an on-going activity that happens in small, manageable events.
    • 3 to 5 minutes per day, less than 20 minutes per week, can provide team members with ideas and insight they can put to immediate use.
  • Create a Culture of Learning:
    • Incent participation to set clear expectations and establish value for the learning process.
    • Monitor team member participation and progress.
    • Provide feedback and encouragement, particularly to the “leaders” and “laggers”.
    • Encourage team members to share their knowledge with peers.

Getting more value from your existing IT and cloud solutions starts when your team understands what is there for them, and how to use it to their advantage.  Improving adoption improves results, and need not be a major cost or time commitment.


Cumulus Global offers a self-paced, video learning system that tailors content to roles within your organization.  For more information, contact us for a brief call with one of our Cloud Advisors.


 

Myth-Busting Monday: Cloud Means Less Control

Office 365 CloudCloud adoption continues to grow. Many business and IT leaders still have the misconception that moving data into the cloud means giving up control of your data or your technology.

In fact, when you move into Office 365 and other cloud services, you still have control over your IT environment. You have the admin tools to control the who, what, where, when, and how of your information and systems.

The role of your IS team shifts from technical issues to business issues.

When you move to the cloud, you give up most of the time spent maintaining hardware and upgrading software.  You no longer need to focus on maintenance, repairs, daily admin tasks, and upgrades. You free up the time you need to focus on improving business operations, developing new analytics and insights, and launching new and agile initiatives.

When you move to the cloud, you stop spending ever-increasing capital dollars on servers and storage while trying to match capacity with need.  Cloud solutions let you focus your IT spend on specific capabilities for specific roles and needs within your organization.

Moving to the cloud lets you think strategically and select solutions that support and respond to the needs of your managers and staff.

Think about how you want to improve your business, and contact us; we will help you select and deploy the cloud solution that can make it happen.


This is the second of a multi-part series designed to help companies better assess the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions.  Contact Us for more information or a free Cloud Advisor session.


Not Using Google Drive? You Are Not Alone

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CIO Magazine recently published a report claiming that 80% of Google for Work customers with more than 1,000 users are not utilizing Google Drive. The statistic is based on whether or not users worked with Drive at least once per month. This is disappointing given that studies show the powerful benefits realized when the collaborative features of Drive are fully utilized.

While the report does not discuss why Drive adoption is low, we have our suspicions.

Peer-to-peer file services do not scale — not without some help

In Drive (and oneDrive and other cloud file services), users create their own folders and share them with individual and teams. Each user “owns” their space and their files and to find a file, it helps to know who shared it with you. And, without central management, naming conventions, and other controls, it is difficult to control and manage access to sensitive information.  While these file services are not as challenging as Windows for Workgroups (circa 1992), they come pretty darn close.  Users familiar with a central file structure are easily frustrated with peer-to-peer sharing and file services.

“Security” is confused with “Sharing”

Yes, Google recently announced that Ernst & Young has verified the ISO 27018 cloud privacy standard for Google Drive. But when users think of security, they are concerned about sharing — or permissions — of their files. In any cloud file service, it can be difficult to fully understand who will have access to the file you are creating or uploading.  And, the nuances of Google Drive can take time to learn.

For example, when sharing a link for a Google Doc with a person that does not currently have permissions, you are prompted to allow anybody with the link to view (or comment, or edit) the document. If your intended recipient forwards the message, access is available to others outside your original intention.

In Drive, and other similar services, the relationship between exposure (who can see, view, edit the file with or without credentials) and explicit access permissions has a learning curve that is often overlooked.  People will avoid using Drive if they are worried about exposure and permissions.

The rules are a bit different

Google Drive is more flexible, and in many respects more powerful, than traditional Windows and Linux file shares. This power, however, can be distracting to end users. Having multiple documents with identical names in a folder, for example, throws many for a loop. It’s not intuitive given their experience and it can create confusion as to which document is correct or current.

Using Drive and other cloud file services is different, but you can take steps to ease the transition and improve adoption.

Train Your Users: 

Beyond the basic “clicks and drags” of Google Drive, help your users learn and understand how to use Drive effectively. Cover permission settings so they understand how to share safely and with confidence. Discuss document naming and version management, including how to upload new versions of documents without creating duplicates. Help them learn now to navigate drive, use the search bar effectively, and launch applications from within the web interface.

Create a Managed File Service:

With an affordable add-on, you can overlay a more traditional file server structure onto Google Drive. Tools like AODocs File Server, you can add the aspects of a traditional file server to Drive:

  • Central ownership and control of space, top level folders, and folder hierarchies
  • Distributed access and permissions from a central authority
  • Conversion of personal to central ownership of files uploaded to, or created, within centrally managed libraries
  • Inherited permissions
  • Audit trails

Yes, there is a cost, but the value for many companies is much greater.

Manage Your Permissions:

Permissions are not just about user settings.  Permissions should — and can — be driven by your privacy needs and the content of your documents. Tools like BetterCloud and CloudLock give you the ability to monitor and manage user access and permissions based on business rules and content as it is created or uploaded. Analysis for HIPAA, PHI, PCI, and other compliance requirements is built-in, with the ability to create customized rules for your specific needs.

 

With the right tools, and a knowledgeable workforce, you and your team will better adopt and utilize Drive.  And with adoption, comes results.


Please Contact Us if you would like information about any of the services mentioned in this post.


 

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Google Workspace Migration Guide

Google Workspace Migration GuideeBook | Source: Google

Whatever your business’s reasons for considering a switch in collaboration tools — a merger or acquisition, the desire to become a  more collaborative, innovative and transparent organization, or simply a  technology audit — change can provoke anxiety and disruption, even  when it is for the better.

What are your goals, and what makes one technology solution the best fit?

Here are some insights that can help facilitate a smooth transition to new workplace productivity tools at all stages — with specifics on Google Workspace — from decision to preparation to deployment to upkeep.

Please confirm the information, below, to view and download the ebook