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Digital Trends

The Digital Office Maybe you’re not as digitally savvy as you want to be. Maybe, when you hear words like “agile”, “cloud”, and “scrum”, you panic a little bit inside. Maybe you’ve been faking a level of digital comfort you don’t really feel. I’m not judging you. It’s cool. I’d like to welcome you to a not very exclusive club – it’s called the “fake it til you make it” club. The principle of this club is that faking digital savvy is an important step on the road to having digital savvy. The only requirement is that you actually start the faking in earnest by using a new generation of workplace productivity tools. I know you love email and powerpoint and your local file server. But it’s time to let them go. Here are the tools. Download them. Use them. Share them. Step #1: Slack At first glance, Slack (and it’s less cool, but equally useful competitor Hipchat) just looks like a chat room. In practice, Slack quickly becomes the default location for all business communications the way email used to be. Email (unfortunately) gets bogged down in the natural human desire to cover one’s own ass. Because Slack encourages quick, to-the-point conversations (vs. alternating monologues on email), it avoids email’s inefficiencies. Slack also integrates with almost all kinds of productivity software. So it’s easy to integrate automatic notifications when a task has been completed. Since my office began using Hipchat, our inter-office emails have dried up completely. Application to Marketing: Slack is about conversation. Email is about rhetoric. Marketing is about conversations more than ever. If you’re trying to produce a conversation with consumers you should start by encouraging conversations internally. It’s amazing how quickly the “who’s to blame?” discussions dry up when everyone is chatting all day. Availability: Slack is definitely the cool kid. But Hipchat natively integrates with some other kinds of productivity software (like JIRA and Confluence). Start by downloading the free version of Slack today. Read More Step #2: Google Apps (or, if you must, Office 365) Recently, due to an unfortunate juice mishap, my laptop died. Switching to a new machine, I didn’t install Microsoft Office for the first time in my professional life. No Word. No Powerpoint. No Excel. In truth, I hadn’t been using Office applications for at least a year before the juice incident. Google Apps had taken over my work. Yes, Office applications have more features. But they were features I wasn’t using. And having instant access to all of my files on any device was pretty damn convenient. Application to Marketing: Old school Microsoft Office was bad for marketing organizations. It encouraged people to “own” documents that should be shared and edited together. And it featured Powerpoint, the single worst thing to happen to marketing ever. There is literally nothing more soul crushing and boring than Powerpoint. Stop using it. Just stop. Stop. Availability: If you can’t wean yourself from Redmond, feel free to use Office 365 instead of Google Apps. But stop making decks. I’m serious. Read More Step #3: Cloud Storage Quick question: which files should you store locally on your desktop at work? Answer: none of them. Your computer is not a filing cabinet. It is a computing device. Allow it to do things and stop filling it up like a hoarder with a newsprint fixation. The nice thing about storing your documents in cloud storage is that you can literally access them from anywhere on any device. That juice incident that fried my laptop? Didn’t matter. Because all of my essential files were already in the cloud, I was up and running within 10 minutes. Application to Marketing: Dongles. Not only is the word gross-sounding, but dongles have caused more marketing catastrophes than recreational drug use. You have a presentation but you’re lacking the correct dongle for the projector. So you sit there presenting off your tiny screen. Has this happened to you? Yes, it has. If your files were in the cloud, you could quickly access them and present them off any computer. You’re welcome. Availability: There are many cloud services at this point. Not all of them are going to survive once a correction hits the tech industry. You know who will make it through? Google. Read More Step #4: Project Management Software I want you to stop what you’re doing and go give your project manager a hug. There has never been a more important and more thankless task than project management. For a long time, project managers’ knowledge of the status of a project consisted of slightly out-of-date excel spreadsheets and hastily scrawled notes. Project management software allows everyone (not just the project manager) to have instant knowledge of the status of a project and to raise issues immediately. It doesn’t matter if you’re prepared to move over to an agile or scrum methodology. You should start using one of these software applications today. If you do, the right methodology for your organization will naturally find you. Application to Marketing: Today, marketing is digital. Whatever you imagine yourself to be doing, you are ultimately building software. Software is made with these project management tools for the very good reason that software is too complicated to build in an ad hoc manner. And the amazing advantage to these tools is it immediately becomes clear who in your organization is getting things done and who isn’t. I would also add that, with the huge level of turnover that plagues marketing organizations, it helps to have everything documented. Availability: We used to use Pivotal Tracker, but we moved over to JIRA to match one of our clients. Both are excellent. I’ve also heard great things about Basecamp. Read More

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