Dontcha just love Top 10 lists? At the Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco today, Matthew Glotzbach, who leads the Enterprise Products team at Google, offered a "Top 10 Things I Can Do in the Cloud That I Couldn't Do A Year Ago." No surprises that many of the tasks on this list revolve around Google's cloud offerings. Still, it was an interesting way to showcase how online applications and services can increase productivity and enhance things like collaboration within small groups. So without further delay... (drumroll, please.)
Anything Everything on the go: OK, it's been more than a year since the iPhone was first launched but Glotzbach's point was that mobile computing has grown by leaps and bounds in the past year. Of course, there's email on a mobile phone. There has been for a long time. But Web connectivity has made everything that lives in the cloud - mail, documents, presentations and more - accessible from the mobile phone.
9. Search through ALL my mail: Who doesn't have a Web-based email account? Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo? Those are all in the cloud. And, thanks to IMAP, mail can be accessed through client-based programs such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple Mail and even Lotus Notes. Glotzbach mentions Notes as a way to illustrate how the enterprise can shift to the cloud without having to disrupt employees or force them to leave their comfort zone. Yes, employees say they hate Lotus Notes - but they love to hate it.
8. Chat with customers and partners in any language: Glotzbach offered a very cool demo of translation bots built into Google Talk. Business is global but often times, language becomes a barrier. The translation bots within Google Talk allows instant communications between people who normally would have to arrange for translators to help with the conversations. And once developers start mashing the tools into things like emails or documents, it could potentially revolutionize the speed of global business.
7. Collaborate simply and securely on projects with Sites and Docs: More Google products but an interesting point on how projects can progress quickly and efficiently by not having to send multiple e-mails or search for the most recent versions. Glotzbach highlighted an internal project that was later made public and how easy it was to share everything from press releases to screenshots simply by granting access and sending a link.
Also read: Office 2.0 day one coverage6. Organize all my business travel with email: Glotzbach's favorite tool seems to be Tripit.com, a service that uses e-mail forwarding to consolidate itineraries from travel agencies, airlines, hotels, travel sites and more. Add in a mobile element and it's easy to see how a tool that's very consumer-friendly could be valuable to business travelers.
5. Easily collect data from co-workers and customers in Forms: Another Google product but also a fun demo. Create an instant "form" with rankings, questions and other information and then publish it to a Web page, blog, document - whatever. From there, it instantly populates a Google Spreadsheet for immediate analysis. Glotzbach set up a form on-the-fly so we could rank his presentation on a scale of 1-5. So far, I'd say he deserves a 4.9.
4. Build any scalable business application on the cloud platform: No longer do you need big infrastructure to create powerful applications. Companies large and small can create their own and Glotzbach highlighted Human Resources departments as one area where applications (maybe for an Intranet) could increase efficiency in the workplace.
3. Use online templates for documents, spreadsheets and presos: By using templates and the cloud, it's easy for companies to collect important data from field workers in a manner that can easily and instantly be entered into documents, presentations or databases - without having to wait for the worker to come back into the office.
2. Run FAST, secure, and stable web apps: The cloud is only as strong as the browser that serves as the gateway to the Web. A-ha! Here comes the plug for Google Chrome. And Glotzbach was more than happy to offer a quick demo. He admits to being a Mac guy and is just as anxious as, well, me and Sergey Brin, to get a Mac version of Chrome. But, for the sake of being able to offer a demo of the browser that's "the talk of the town," he brought a Windows machine. (During a Chrome vs. IE demo, the IE browser encountered a script error. Big surprise, huh?)
And finally, the No. 1 thing I can do in the cloud that I couldn't do a year ago...
1. Securely share Video in Apps: Glotzbach says video is everywhere - on our phones, on our laptops and even those handy little flipcams - and increasingly, video is being used as a collaboration tool for business.
OK, maybe some of these things were around a year ago. But the overall theme is that the cloud offers more flexibility today than it did a year ago. What are you doing in the cloud today that you weren't do a year ago? Glotzbach said his original list had 30-40 items but he cut it down. As for myself, via Facebook, I'm reconnecting with people that I drifted away from and staying connected with people who otherwise might vanish from my day-to-day life. And I can stay connected regardless of where I am or which device I use.
What would you add to the list?