Clouds level the business playing field

I was invited a few weeks ago to attend the V8 Supercars in Launceston… in the 12 years I have now worked at RedBalloon I have seen many a car (and been in side many a V8) as they raced around the circuit…. and given that the event was in Tasmania – and my close colleague Lauren is from there…. I thought she would have an interest. I was unaware the degree to which she is a rev-head. As a guest of Microsoft Office 365 she observed how cloud-based technology has transformed the V8 business into a well-oiled machine (pardon the pun). She sent me these musings directly from the V8 Supercar “office”, which just happened to be in the middle of a paddock – cleverly disguised as a race track…

Lauren enjoying herself on the grid

The notion of an “office” has been turned on its head thanks to cloud-based products. They’re changing the nature of work environments like never before.

Our Microsoft host Isabel introduced herself as a “Full time mum of two, full time wife, full time daughter, full time sister and full time employee. We’re all a full time lot of things – all the time, everywhere, anytime. And we’re also expected to be productive everywhere, anytime.”

That sentiment really resonated, as I know myself and many of my colleagues are in this position. With so much on their plates, employees want – and need – the flexibility to do their job in a way that best suits them. Our “outside” lives don’t end when we step “inside” the office.

But delivering this holy grail of flexibility has been a tall order for many SMEs for a long time. The cost that often accompanies providing such tools has, until very recently, been hugely limiting.

V8 Supercars Director of Finance Peter Trimble said their company had no choice but to look at a technological solution for their slumping employee morale – they were “doing their peoples’ heads in” with out-dated technology.

“Our people were working inefficiently and often until 10 or 11 at night just to get their job done. We were wearing our people out…and it was costing us a lot of money to run a broken system. There’s no room for forgiveness in our work – the race will start no matter what.” While that’s true in a literal sense for V8 races, it also applies equally to every business.

RedBalloon has been a recognised top employer for years, with a steadfast commitment to providing flexibility and the right tools for our people. As part of this we recently transitioned onto “the cloud”, where simple yet fundamental features like accessing email, calendars and files, and staying connected when working remotely, are possible. Surprisingly though, we have also seen a reduction in costs.

For the first time, small businesses are able to provide tools for their people that have been for so long available only to the wealthy few. These products are levelling the playing field.

How are you using technology to drive productivity and engagement in your business? Is out-dated or costly technology a stopping point for your growth?

I’d love to hear your stories.

This entry was posted in Innovation and tagged , ,

One Comment

  1. Tom Poland
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Ditto. The cloud, and in particular HipChat and DropBox, means that both myself and 8 contractors in 5 different countries can all work from a home office and can communicate 24/7, easily see the thread of a project or conversation, collaborate with each other in real time cross 4 different timezones. Costs down, productivity up (must be proactively managed with agreed KPIs/objectives).

    The thing is this: for a couple of years I had no idea what everyone was talking about … cloud this, cloud that. It wasn’t until one of my contractors bullied me in to giving it go that I found myself like a pig in mud. Loved it. Soooo much better than the traditional email and desktop storage systems.

    As someone who is focused on making a difference in my work AND having a great lifestyle (I live next to the beach on the Sunshine Coast) broadband and in particular the cloud has taken my business and personal lives to a new level of effectiveness and enjoyment.

    Think about it: most business owners have at least 3 computer platforms: desktop, laptop or tablet and smartphone. The cloud end the misery and complexity of file access and sharing. And that’s just self-collaboration, to say nothing of the gains when you add a network of contractors, suppliers and other team members.

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