My company recently moved to Google Apps, a software-as-a-service office suite. I was skeptical at first. The behavioral change was painful. Precision and features were lacking. But after four months, I'm now a convert and advocate for cloud-based email, documents, presentations and calendar.
1. All my data are backed up. It doesn't matter if my laptop or company servers melt, everything will be backed up. Theft? I can easily change the password. I feel secure.
2. I can easily and selectively share my documents. That means I can more easily collaborate with others, and aggregate group contributions -- in real time.
3. I can easily share my calendar and reliably schedule meetings. Never before have I had so few hiccups in trying to coordinate meetings and conference rooms.
4. From a computer-processing and workflow standpoint, I can operate more efficiently. That's because all of my office applications work within Web-browser tabs, and I can avoid opening any other clunky office applications.
5. The spam I receive is at an all-time low. Moreover, false-positive spam instances are rare.
6. My office suite seamlessly connects to my company's internal Web site.
7. Rather than get uptight about file and folder organization, I can easily locate and manage work files as I do with the rest of the Web -- via search.
8. From an administrative standpoint, deploying and managing cloud-based office suites to many people is easy. The price is right, too.
9. Finally, the most profound benefit of the cloud-based office suite: I can leave my laptop at the office and have full access to my digital office suite from any other computer in the world. I can't tell you how liberating that is. You'll quickly realize how heavy and unwieldy your laptop is -- once you stop carrying it around everywhere.
To be sure, cloud-based office suites have much room for improvement -- especially when it comes to document formatting. Presentations, when there are multiple contributors, have a tendency to adopt a crazy mix of fonts and alignments. And cloud-based spreadsheets don't allow all the precision and sophistication of Excel.
Still, the pros far outweigh the cons. And cloud-based office suites are only getting better every day.