It's not easy being a road warrior. As daunting as a day in the office can be, working while on the move presents an almost inexhaustible list of challenges.
Remotely accessing important documents, collaborating with co-workers hundreds of miles away, keeping track of clients while on the go, capitalizing on unexpected opportunities, staying productive while at the airport or on a plane -- the process is basically a beefed-up version of most on-site difficulties combined with the complexity of working outside an IT-controlled environment.
Consider the man in Germany who essentially built an entire office inside his car. While we can only guess what compelled this ostensibly dangerous tactic, it's probably safe to assume that one factor was the pressure to remain productive while on the road. Luckily, technology has advanced to keep road warriors in the game without resorting to such daredevil strategies.
It's becoming more and more common for employees to abandon their desks and to treat wherever they happen to be as a makeshift office. Mobility is a big part of this shift. With smartphones and tablets now offering much of the functionality that historically has required a PC, travel no longer means sacrificing utility.
But more advanced devices are only part of the equation. Cloud services are another indispensable factor -- and one that can take many forms.
For some users, clouds simply allow documents to be storedand accessed remotely. For others, they're the gateway to SaaS tools that give mobile devices specific functions and more processing power than their chips alone can produce. And for still other users, cloud services are a platform for teamwork among widely dispersed contributors. Streamlined paperwork flows, on-the-spot sales opportunities, better task management -- the list of applications goes on.
Many users will use only one or two cloud services frequently. Others will assemble a vast collection of tools to match their needs, or, if they're lucky, find a single service that integrates most of the work into a single interface. Some might rely on consulting companies to collect the right tools or build custom cloud apps.
Taking full advantage of the cloud sometimes means getting creative. It also requires an understanding of how mobile devices and cloud services present security risks, with data loss and unauthorized use of corporate content among the chief concerns. The right combination of tools will vary by organization and by individual user -- but the first step is to become familiar with the landscape (or cloudscape).
The following eight cloud computing services show how road warriors can remain productive and plugged in -- and how IT administrators can tailor and integrate tools to fit particular needs while keeping data safe.