Why did Tim Berners-Lee invent the Web?
To make sharing easier. That's it. That's the exact and literal answer to why the Web was invented. Simple right! 25 years later and we're still sending attachments. Old habits die harder than Bruce Willis.
File = a thing. Think encyclopedia britannica. Think VHS tape. URL = a place. Think Wikipedia. Think YouTube. Which is easier to share? - Joe Tierney, guy writing this post
Attachments are horrible
Attachments are lame for a few critical reasons.
"I've attached the file I'm working on."
No you haven't. You've attached a copy of a file you were working on. A replica. A fake. An imposter. A version. A lifeless polaroid of the real party.
"Can you make your edits and send this file back?"
Nope. That's not how files work. I can copy (download) another imposter file to my computer, creating my own file. How many versions are we up to in even the most basic workflow? That's 4 if you're counting. The original (1). Imposter #1 (2) attached to the first email to be sent. Imposter #2 (3) created when the email landed in the inbox. Imposter #4 (4) created when the recipient downloaded the attachment to their computer. 4 completely different files and we haven't even collaborated yet! Making changes once and returning another file can create 3 more versions!
The most basic collaboration workflow involving just 2 people can quickly create dozens of imposter files. Collaboration is working together, not working alone to incorporate another person's content into yours. "I'll save the 'real' version to my desktop" ... we've all been here. This versioning nightmare is a huge time suck.
How are the cool kids doing it?
They're using the Web. They're turning a 'thing' (.docx) into a place (https://www.collaboratehere). There are dozens of Web-based services that can pull this off.
Enterprise software used to be about making existing work more efficient. Now, the opportunity for software is to transform the work itself. - Aaron Levie, Box.com CEO
Google Drive works with any file format including docx, .xlsx, .pptx, etc. The Web makes it easier than ever to collaborate on older file formats. Drive also enables entirely new ways to work, natively on the Web. A Google Doc for example is always at a specific URL - it's a URL-based resource and lives on the Web. In our consumer lives we use URL-based resources for everything! This Linkedin post, sharing Facebook pictures, shopping on Amazon, online banking, watching cat videos on YouTube. But at work ... we're emailing attachments to each other. We don't need to.
What if you don't have Google Drive at work? Well, if you have a Gmail account, you have at least the consumer version of Google Drive which is very capable.
Or how about the most popular file sharing service in the world? Dropbox for Business is the same Dropbox everyone loves, with the Admin controls your IT department needs to do their job. More than 1 billion files are uploaded to Dropbox everyday! "Dropbox isn't secure." ... are you sure? Sending attachments certainly isn't secure.
Google Drive, Dropbox for Business, and Box.com are just three ways to kill the attachment forever. There are dozens.
Your life depends on it. Really.
Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed. - Peter Drucker, the guy who invented management
Our business and personal lives have always been completely intertwined. There's not a "work us" and a "home us" - never has been. Our work has always been an important part of our identity. Today we talk about ubiquitous connectivity and mobile devices blurring the line, but there's never really been a line - a fact that's just more obvious today.
What would you do if you were 20% more productive at work? Well, you'd get more done in less time. Time. The magic word. Were you put on this earth to dig through versions of files to find the right one? Is that your passion? Is that a good reason to miss time with your kids? Probably not.
Stop sending attachments. Start using the Web to share. That's what it's for. Collaboration can be much more than a buzzword, it can fundamentally change your work.