Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Working in the cloud: Five ways to maximize online collaboration

Five lessons we have learned about maximizing performance in the cloud

Published: Aug 26, 2015 07:01:51 AM IST
Updated: Aug 18, 2015 05:22:55 PM IST

Working in the cloud: Five ways to maximize online collaboration
Image: Courtesy Thunderbird

In June 2010 a group of innovative thinkers set out to create a new type of agency to deliver strategic and creative services using all the advantages of cloud-based computing. UP, the organization that emerged, has no offices or employees. Just high-powered collaboration and a growing list of satisfied clients. Here are five lessons we have learned about maximizing performance in the cloud.

1. Collaborate. As simple as this may sound, the first thing to remember is to collaborate with your community. For example, when setting out to write this article, I posted a note on the UP private Facebook page to tap into the creativity of my fellow colleagues. Today’s fast-paced life often makes us think we don’t have time to seek the thoughts of others, but the cloud speeds access to creative thinking, anywhere around the globe. UP leverages creative talent from around the globe, regardless of physical location. And that’s a real strength.

2. Organize. Another must for collaborating in the cloud is to utilize a good project management system like Basecamp from 37Signals. You can create project groups, manage files, create conversation threads and stay connected to your counterparts. The real value here is that all communications around a particular project are captured and documented by the system. If you don’t do this, you’ll soon find that you are experiencing email overload.  Did you ever have 1,000 unopened e-mails? It becomes a communication bottleneck, not only for you, but for your colleagues.

3. Give.
Third, remember to give. If you are part of an online community, remember to post valuable content that others will find interesting. It will also help you to establish a more solid thought leadership presence. If you’re only asking questions and taking from your peers, you’ll soon find that your cloud-based partners are less willing to collaborate the next time you need help.

4. Upload. Fourth, don’t store all your files on your personal computer or laptop. Utilize cloud-based storage facilities such as DropBox. Not only will your colleagues have immediate access to the latest version of a file, but you won’t have to worry about backups. And if you need to send a large file to a client, don’t do it via email. Use a cloud-based file transfer service like WeTransfer, which also can be customized with your company brand.

5. Talk. Lastly, remember to talk. Email communication is great. It’s not intrusive, and it builds a historical trail. But sometimes the best form of collaboration and creativity is through direct dialogue. This can be done via the cloud, too.  At UP, it’s not uncommon for us to have a group conference call or creative session via Skype with colleagues based in Shanghai, Amsterdam, Stockholm and New York … all at the same time.

Just like any form of technology, the cloud is an enabler. Utilize it to enhance and accelerate creativity, and release the power of your individual and collaborative talents.

Lawrence Masle ’94 is a borderless business development and brand strategy expert based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

[This article has been reproduced with permission from Knowledge Network, the online thought leadership platform for Thunderbird School of Global Management]