With one of the projects that I’m working on these days, I find that it is helpful to use Google Docs for a lot of the work. Part of this is because I am between several cities, but the other reason is that in respect to the many of these documents are going through several rounds of reviews and converations. The end product is usually that ownership is shared, and that I’m usually travling when we are conversing about them. So, do I really need to store/edit everything locally for anything more than archiving?
I thought of this because of a topic posted some months ago at Forum Oxford where a person was shocked that Nokia is not offering a memory card in one of the latest enterprise handsets. For that specific handset, it is designed to be used for the occasional editing session (the model is the E7 and it has a slide out QWERTY keyboard, similar to my N97). However, it does not have that often celebrated, but not as often talked about when card prices are low, memory card slot. What could Nokia have been thinking, and is there an answer in how I’m now working that might shed some light here?
I do think that Nokia is thinking correctly, and that they are taking a very bold step forward. The E7 is positioned as an enterprise device. And for the most part, at least towards the audience of enterprise users to which the device is aimed, connectivity is assumed to never be a question of having it or not, it is more like cellular or Wi-Fi. The assumption here being that Nokia feels that the best market for this device is those people whom will rarely, if ever, run into situations where there is no signal in order to connect to corporate or non-corporate servers to view and edit documents.
Another point here is that the E7 will most likely push forward some of that arrangement that Nokia and Microsoft announced some months back to better collaborate on mobile solutions which use Microsoft’s enterprise products (SharePoint, Exchange, and Communicator). These products also live within the premise that connectivity is never in question, but also that assets (documents, multimedia, and the access to these) are managed from a central server (set of servers) and IT governance policies which see workers not as on-site or not, but as available or not.
Lastly, there was a demo this past summer of a product called Mobile Documents. Mobile Documents is an application that was designed to leverage the fact that documents can/are stored on web storage areas and then (by proxy?) make the downloaded document viewable quickly and efficiently on the mobile device. They didn’t do much of anything with the aspect of editing documents, but for the most part, if you are looking at a document on your mobile – specifically the audience for the E7, at the very most you are adding a comment, not holding an all out collaborative editing session.
To that point, I’m looking at how I manage documents, and one of the things that I’ve noticed is that I prefer now to create and edit materials (that are shared) within a shared space such as a Google Docs or SharePoint. I don’t want to deal with making sure that I have the right version of an application to even open it, because I want to know that it works in my browser, no matter what browser it is that I’m using. Because I also deal with documents that have processes and other assets attached, I don’t need to do more with those assets other than to create them and then upload them to a central area. This makes those assets available not by sending attachments, but by sharing links with the respective persons. From here, I can grant access and make edits without hurting the other person’s ability to get their side of work done.
This doesn’t mean that I’m done with local storage completely. I still like to archive my documents/assets locall.y In fact, if I am not able to do so with whatever web/intranet-based solution, I am likely not to use it. The key is that I want to be able to use the asset anywhere, but never have it locked to a specific application.
And so, I think that the question about whether we need local storage or not is based around this: do you need or prefer to have your digital assets locked to an application, or would you rather have the flexibility to use the better aspects of the internet to both view and edit these items, with the added benefit that you don’t have to be the one paying for the storage to maintain it?
Such will be a big question enterprises will have to address with the E7 and similar future mobile devices. And depending on how they answer this question, we might know how much longer that we need to pay attention to the prices of memory (as consumers).