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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Taming the Technology Buffet
by Robert Leist, Business Systems Consultant


Ah, the joys of technology - I think back to the days when my dad had his business and how simple it all was compared to how we accomplish the same tasks today. Lost data back then was a misplaced piece of paper. It makes me realize just how far our world has come in all the seemingly endless business offerings we can take advantage of compared to the past. The good news is that the ability to access all the technology available is extremely easy; almost too easy -  and that becomes a problem.

Today, so many people are moving their data to the cloud, or in some cases being forced to do so.  After all; why not with the benefits of free storage, free e-mail and free backups!

The cloud service business model has evolved into a try-me, buy-me operation.  The benefit of this is that we get to experience what the offering is; such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive.  Once you go to the trouble of creating an account,  cloud-service providers count on the fact you will likely continue to use it.  After all who does not like free stuff? Accessing cloud service technology is easier than going to the store; we find what we need online and sign up.

Buyer-Beware!  Oh wait, you didn’t buy anything, right?  You got it for free.  Here’s my warning when it comes to using free services exclusively…

At some point when the provider gains enough market share, the service will no longer be free.

Case in point, Sugar Sync stopped the free services model recently. SugarSync is similar to DropBox with more options as to what and where you can sync your files. Before you decide on a service, don’t consider it just because it is free, rather consider what the real cost is if you paid for it along with the features you will get. If you are comfortable with the cost, sign up.  You need to consider your needs first and find the best solution that is a fit for how you intend to use it. Having to switch services at a later date is time consuming. Let’s face it; you are giving up some form of privacy or information that they will sell/share in trade for your free account use.

I see many client PC’s with several online services at the same time. Computers with Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud all at the same time! This “digital chaos” costs you time and lowers your productivity because you start to lose track of where you put your data. I get that someone shared a document with you and poof, you installed Dropbox as a result. Microsoft is happy to send all your data off to OneDrive and Apple wants you to put it all on iCloud.  Consider limiting the scope of what each service puts in the cloud so you know where your digital information is stored. If in doubt, don’t install it.

For iTunes and my Apple devices - I use iCloud because it realistically is the only service that can back up my phone and music other than to plug my phone into the PC. 

I use Dropbox for sharing files between other Dropbox users, my pc and laptop and that’s it. For my PC I use backup software that can recover the entire PC. I still limit what I put in the cloud to files that do not contain any form of information that is sensitive. If the file is sensitive in nature, consider password protecting it first.

I do want to warn against overlapping services as it can lead to unexpected data loss and some major disruptions in your day. Case in point:  We have encountered clients that have wiped out their contacts and calendars because they enabled features on competing services. Let me say, I like iTunes for my music and yes, I said I back my phone up with iCloud, especially since I took a swim with my phone in Hawaii. iPhones are NOT water proof! But, that is where me and Apple part on how much iTunes does on my desktop. If you go into the Apple store and get a new phone or tablet, they are more than happy to help add your email to the device and set-up you iCloud. Just say “no” if you happen to use Microsoft Exchange or any other email that uses its own sync technology. If you enable iCloud on your phone and sync it to your PC with iTunes, it will overwrite all the existing data in your e-mail Exchange account.  This is sure to cause a headache or two as your calendar and contact items will disappear.
My advice…consider store help carefully, Apple employees know little about other e-mail systems and can potentially cause you a lot of wasted time and add to your frustration level.  Note:  I’m not anti-Apple, our office uses iPhones exclusively and we also have iPads and other “I” devices; but we are careful how we make the technology work for us – as well as our clients.

Gmail has a handy feature that they “borrowed” from Microsoft to sync Gmail to iPhones and Android devices. Because of problems with the Google sync feature (or bug) Gmail either deletes the item or in most cases duplicates the data multiple times on the device. In response to the problems Google has been quietly phasing out the feature and will halt support completely at the end of the year. If you use this, I would consider moving your domain to Microsoft’s Office365.

Technology does make our lives easier and allows us to be more productive; but as you may have experienced, it can also waste a lot of time when the new systems you put in place don’t play nicely in the sandbox with each other.

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Speaking Schedule / Need a Speaker?

lauraleist small 251x167 for website.jpgJuly 1:  NSA (National Speaker's Association) Convention - San Diego, CA
Topic:   Eliminate Risk and Gain Rewards Using Technology

July 16th:  ISES (Intl. Special Events Society) - Seattle, WA
Topic:  5 Techniques You Must Use to Increase Your Productivity & Profitability

August 5th:  NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) - Bellevue, WA  
Topic:  Eliminate Risk and Gain Rewards Using Technology:  How Savvy Successful Small Businesses Operate

August 7th:  Windermere Transitions - Lynnwood, WA
Topic:  Rightsizing:  Less Stuff = Less Stress 

September 9th:  AGC (Associated General Contractors) - Seattle, WA
Topic: 10 Techniques You Must Use to Increase Your Productivity & Profitability

Click HERE for more information on the above events.

Need a Speaker?  Laura is available to speak at conferences, companies and other groups who are looking for a speaker that provides "Sessions with Substance" on a variety of topics.

Imagine immediate improvements in workforce productivity.  Listen and watch Laura turn over 20 years of experience into practical learning and fun!

Laura is an entertaining, down-to-earth speaker, who translates over two decades of information-technology and organizing consulting experience into fun, interesting and practical presentations.

Laura knows that while most have a desire to be more productive or love the idea of getting organized not everyone knows how or where to begin.  

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Are You and Your Employees as Productive as Possible?

hour glass cartoon - compressed.jpgIf the answer is "NO," it may be time to look at the systems, or lack thereof, to determine how changing one or more of the areas below can help an employee, small business owner, or team be more productive and profitable:
  • Time Management
  • Task Management and Prioritization
  • E-mail Management and how to use Microsoft Outlook to be as efficient as possible
  • Technology Assessment 
  • Organizational Skills

The small investment in a Productivity Assessment for your employees or yourself includes
  • 2-3 hour in person or phone consultation
  • Written report that will list an Executive Summary, detailed recommendations for implementation, prioritized list of action items for the employee and specific areas that Eliminate Chaos can be a resource for hands-on work.

If you'd like to discuss how a Productivity Assessment can help increase productivity and profitability, give me a call at 425.670.2551 or 877.342.8592 - or email me @ .

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Customer Service:  425.670.2551 or 877.342.8592
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You may reprint this article in its entirety with the following credit:  © 2014 Eliminate Chaos.  Reprinted with permission from Laura Leist, CPO of Eliminate Chaos.

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