Links versus Attachments – the dawn of content management

An interesting thing happened to me earlier this week which highlighted to me ways in which our work culture is being directly affected by changes in social media, tablets and mobile working by virtue of convenient (and often free) use of WiFi to connect to the internet.

I have to say I’m a bit surprised (perhaps naively) that there are several people out there who are still very much in the “dark ages” sticking to “old” technology and techniques for exchanging, sharing and communication information.

But first some background of my experiences …which caused this surprise …

Over the past 6-8 years, I’ve introduced Mobile Working and Remote Working practices into clients I worked for. This has included introducing “smartphones”, “tablets” and mobile working allowing people to work remotely and use technology to enhance their end-user experience and tasks/activities.

I’ve also  introduced “enterprise content management” into organisations reducing the need for attaching large files to emails and using “links” to information stored on a company internet/intranet/extranet site to improve security and accessibility to information (safely). This has led to better, more efficient ways of managing storage which many “users” of technology conveniently dismiss believing that it is being taken care of.

Anyhow …back to my story …

I was on the road and got a tip from a friend to email my CV to an organisation that typically finds work for Interim Managers and Strategy Consultants like me. However, being out and about, all I had with me was my trusty iPad.

As some of you who own (and use) iPads for work probably know – attaching files to mail on an iPad isn’t very straightforward when compared to Microsoft Office on PCs. This is, in my opinion, a (current) major shortfall of the iPad experience when using email. But I fully embrace the Apple philosophy of making technology fun and interactive and as the old adage goes “there is always a way …”!

I had a copy of my CV on Dropbox (a great “cloud” based file sharing utility) which allows you to generate and email a link to files. The link is as good as sending an attachment – it provides access to a read-only version of the file in a web-browser. This does mean that you should be able to read (for example) WORD documents in a web browser which I would expect most people with Microsoft Office to be able to do.

Including a link to a document is similar to what you can do with SharePoint within a corporate environment. However, many people (such as the dufus I was in email contact with) still don’t appreciate this concept and consider a link as something alien (… this does actually raise an important point of SPAM and information security). I was asked to stop wasting his time and just send an “attachment”! When I explained I was on the road, not in front of a PC and that the link was “as good as ..” he got a bit vexed (clearly out of his depth) and I (sorry couldn’t help myself) responded in kind …

Anyway, I advised him that I wouldn’t be proceeding with his company and that we should each go our separate ways.(Naturally, I said this in fewer more direct words!).

What did I learn from this experience? The “younger” and more technology-aware members of our communities are already changing the way they interact. Conversely, there is a generation which is (slowly) being left behind who don’t appreciate “new ways of working” and who need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century … I remain prepared to do my part … won’t you (and others) join me?!?

[Ironically, I’ve since found other apps such as “GoodReader” which also actually make adding attachments on an iPad possible. What a pallava! Guess all experiences, good AND bad, lead to learning something new!]

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