I've always been a fan of productivity & efficiency hacks to allow me to do more with the limited time in each day. But lately, I've been working really hard to institutionalize these things within our company, PointAbout.
Everyone reacts a little differently. Some people take to keyboard shortcuts easily, while for others using the mouse is a very hard habit to break. I would liken keyboard shortcuts to blogging: With both, there's a "valley of death" you have to get through before you emerge in the sunny field on the other side, and most people don't make it. Both blogging and keyboard shortcuts require several weeks or months of concerted effort to prove successful, but once you emerge on the other side of that time commitment, you look back with the realization you should've done it years ago, it's so valuable. Initiatives like the F1 GeekSpeed Challenge help make it a bit more fun.
One thing that's been easier to institutionalize has been the use of Basecamp , a cloud-based Software As A Service (SAAS) lightweight project management tool, instead of email. I've gotten quite militant with everyone around me that if a conversation turns into a thread on email, or if you know it's going to be one, it should be moved to Basecamp. There are several huge benefits to this approach -- again, not all of them immediately obvious. The first is that it allows you to assign owners and dates to tasks, something email is notoriously poor at. The second is that you have a threaded conversation, all kept in one place, and various people can be added & dropped to comments along the way as necessary (no more 'reply to all' hell). These benefits are nice when they're happening, but invaluable as time goes on and the knowledgebase builds.
Today I came across a great example of exactly this. Hayat, our admin, had asked me how to do some transcription work. About 4 months ago, I had previously trained another admin on this. Since I put the original training instructions on Basecamp, I was able to very quickly & easily call up the thread and just have Hayat read it + watch a video I had posted in the thread. That was it -- I didn't have to do anything more than point her in the right direction, the rest of what she needed was perfectly memorialized on Basecamp from the first time I went through it.
It felt so great and refreshing to have successfully stored the knowledge in a place where it could be readily reused that I did a video to show off the details. Here it is -- enjoy!
The Wall Street Journal has run a series of articles about the app economy this week, identifying the app ecosystem as a $25 billion business. They write:
If you're interested in mobile, and apps in particular, I highly recommend searching this series of articles out.
When my co-founders and I started PointAbout, a mobile app dev shop in 2008, we had a really hard time convincing businesses that apps were more than just a fad. Then in the 4th quarter of 2009 something significant happened: I started to see budgets for app creation move from the "experimental" bucket to a dedicated budget. That's when the most forward-thinking businesses started to build mobile apps and we were able to build a strong business making apps for Disney, The Washington Post, Cars.com and many others.
But still, many businesses don't get it. I recently wrote a warning to Fortune 1000 CEOs because I'm convinced many of them will be fired for underestimating the impact of mobile on their businesses.
For businesses that are trying to figure out how to really double down on mobile, I'd like to highlight a startup that recently launched called Automatic. It combines a $70 accessory that plugs into a car's ODBII port with a mobile app, allowing the car to communicate with the phone. This is a beautiful example of how a company took something that's always been available -- diagnostic information from your car -- and turned it into something humans actually care about, with features like "Never forget where you parked," "Automatic calls for help in a crash," "Save hundreds on gas every year" and "Keep your engine healthy." The way Automatic is unleashing data that's always been available in a new and very innovative (and valuable) way via the mobile device is a great example of how mobile is changing everything.