As many of you know, I am involved in multiple businesses around the world. As such, I keep a pretty heavy schedule and I depend heavily on easy communication tools and technology to keep me in touch with a variety of teams across multiple time zones. To do this, I really have come to depend on several key pieces of technology, but I wanted to spend a few minutes on three key pieces that I depend on every day.
1. Skype & VoIP Phones – I lump these together, but they have become the backbone of communications for my companies and teams. Through Skype we maintain an always open, asynchronous chat room for each team that allows us excellent communications and the capability to share ideas and situational awareness effortlessly. We also use those chat rooms for group audio and video calls to quickly do ad-hoc meetings and troubleshooting. We use Vonage for our voice systems as well, giving us a US phone number no matter where we are in the world. This allows my customers, friends, family and peers easy access to us, just as if we were sitting in our central office in Columbus, OH ~ even if we are in the islands, a hotel or a friend’s retreat. These are affordable, dependable solutions that scale and flex well.
2. Apple iOS Devices & Macs with the iCloud – The core of business management tasks are done with Apple devices. The iCloud is an excellent tool for us, and we use iWorks as well, making it easy for us to work from anywhere, at any time, and easily keep our files and data in synch. We share data easily and the other members of my management team can effortlessly swap data, collaborate and communicate. iMessage is a core piece of that. We are also very excited about iWorks in iCloud, since that will also allow Android, Linux and Windows systems to easily participate in this, essentially lowering some of the costs and removing a few barriers. But, overall, Apple products get it done for us and we depend on them heavily.
3. Dropbox – Most of our teams and businesses leverage dropbox to stay in synch. For data that doesn’t lend itself well to iCloud, dropbox is the way forward. It allows easy collaboration, and with additional encryption tools, allows for a very safe environment for sharing data. We are still finding new uses for it, but it makes backups, sharing and collaboration even easier. When you have a working folder in dropbox and the team is all on Skype, collaborative work is a breeze. We leverage it heavily and it seems to scale well into the tens of people.
Those are the big three. I urge you to take a close look at them and get imaginative. Figure out ways they could lend themselves to your business.
As always, thanks for reading and let me know what tech you depend on. You can drop me a line on Twitter (@lbhuston or @digitallizardsw). Follow both for updates and insights!