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For decades if not centuries, work has been a place you go. You went to the factory, to the mine or even the field. Work is still at a specific location for some – but for an increasing number of people, it can now take place virtually anywhere.

Smartphones, tablets, ultra-thin PCs, cloud technologies and Internet connectivity provide a new level of agility. A coffee shop, an airport lounge, a bedroom, a bus stop or a bench overlooking the beach are all places where Information workers (or knowledge workers as coined by Peter Drucker) can squeeze in a bit of work.

Being able to collaborate with co-workers or access a line of business applications from anywhere also has the power to significantly increase productivity for information workers. A few weeks ago, a small logistics company was telling me about enabling their 10 truck drivers with a smart device that connects back to the core ERP software the company is using.

Prior to the new technology – it took an average of 4 days for truck drivers to return the physical delivery docket, which was needed before the company could send the invoice to the customer. Now the docket is sent back electronically straight into the ERP system and the invoice is issued within the hour, shortening the time for the company to get paid and improving cash flow.

Another example I was told of recently was about a small printing company that has enabled their 4 sales staff with smart devices that connect back to their internal systems. With this new solution, they can discuss, design and quote a print job, such as a new menu for a restaurant, while they are meeting with the customer.

The sales team can even schedule the print job from their smart device right there and then as soon as the customer approves the quote. The delivery time can be confirmed immediately, increasing customer satisfaction as well as maximizing the 24/7 printing operation back at the office.

These scenarios are not new and have been implemented for years by large corporations. These productivity enhancing scenarios use to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars just a few years ago – but now they’re available to small and medium businesses for a fraction of the cost via cloud solutions.

To get you started and test how modern you are with your IT, here are 4 simple questions you can ask yourself and assess if your organisation is freeing you from a specific location to do your work:

  • Are my work documents accessible from any location (office, home, airport lounge)?
  • Are my work documents accessible from any devices (smartphone, tablet, laptop) or even better, are my documents synchronised automatically across all of my devices?
  • Can I collaborate, for example video conference, edit a document or show a presentation to my team or my boss from anywhere?
  • Can I access all my line of business applications (for example sales forecast application, CRM application, business intelligence application) from outside the corporate network or at least am I able to connect back into my corporate environment from anywhere with any device?

If you have answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, you might be missing out. By not taking advantage of the latest technologies, you or your company might not be as productive as you could be. Take a look at Office 365 or Windows Server 2012 Direct Access or discuss it with your trusted IT advisor.

In the last few years, cloud solutions and smart devices have dramatically changed how people work, you pretty much have 2 choices, keep working the way you have been for the last ten years – or embrace a new wave of productivity in the cloud.

Written by Gianpaolo Carraro, SMB Director at Microsoft Australia.

About the author

Gianpaolo Carraro Small Business and Distribution Lead, is responsible for Microsoft sales, marketing, business development and channel enablement in the small and medium business segment. Prior to this role Gianpaolo was leading the Platform Evangelism team where he was responsible for all innovation related activities for Microsoft Australia. Prior to Microsoft, Gianpaolo was Founder and CEO of a venture backed Cloud startup.

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