Up in the Clouds

I don’t need a hard disk in my computer if I can get to the server faster… carrying around these non-connected computers is byzantine by comparison.” – Steve Jobs (1997)

The aforethought of Steve Jobs was nothing short of groundbreaking. While Apple is certainly credited with taking cloud computing to the main stream with its iCloud application tying MacBooks, iphones and iPads together, many services have risen to prove their worth in far more practical ways, and other companies, such as Salesforce.com, continue to revolutionize customer relationship management to new heights.

By far, I have discovered the most active use of the “cloud” comes with “SaaS,” or Software as a System programs. Some are free services, while others offer a wider range of service with subscriptions, usually charged on a monthly basis. Here are a few of our favorite cloud-based systems and apps that we find integral to doing business in our new age of hospitality.

Google Drive (formerly Googledocs)
Collaboration at its finest is the best way I can describe Googledocs. If you work in a team environment and divide duties and responsibilities, googledocs is a must to use. Whether it is a word document, spreadsheet or presentation, documents can be updated and revised at any time and automatically saved and stored. No need for sixteen revisions of a diagram, or multiple renditions of an event script. And because it is cloud based, your computer hard drive is freed up of valuable storage. With its new home at Google Drive, your docs are now accessible on all computers and mobile devices. http://www.google.com/drive/apps.html

Dropbox allows users to share files securely with a finite amount of complimentary storage space in the cloud (2 GB). Upgrades are available which provide a greater amount of storage and other features and benefits such as file encryption and unlimited file recovery. Bottom line… dropbox is a great tool to pass along high-resolution files such as pictures, renderings, video and data securely for better team management and quick accessibility. https://www.dropbox.com/

Adobe FormsCentral
With the option to create 5 forms and get 500 responses per form for only $0.99, FormsCentral is perfect for a single event registration for a small group, or even a post-event survey. With templates varying from HR forms to marketing data, educational tests and non-profit volunteer documents, FormsCentral offers several options to manage a variety of hospitality needs. With affordable pricing structures up to $19.99/month, it’s a steal, too. https://www.acrobat.com/formscentral/en/home.html

File this one under, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Doodle is a free online service that polls a group to gauge the best meeting time that accommodates all schedules. You simply list your group’s email addresses, fill in a few options for meeting times and dates and Voila! Doodle polls all of you to pinpoint your date and time. Brilliant. http://doodle.com/?locale=en

Goodbye fax machine, hello green objectives and sustainability! Our industry operates heavily on the pen-to-paper contract, and DocuSign is a fantastic service that offers e-signatures on the most popular documents such as PDF’s, .doc and .xls and can work in conjunction with dropbox and salesforce, in addition to email platforms such as Microsoft Outlook.
With plans ranging from free service to $20/month, you simply attach your document, request a signature and all parties receive confirmation that the document has been penned. With automatic timestamps and backup, it is a risk-free way to transmit anything from a banquet event order to a production event contract. http://www.docusign.com/

Got another suggestion or are we missing YOUR favorite? Tweet me @kellykucera