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Cloud computing is changing the game for today’s construction businesses. It’s revolutionizing productivity, saving time and empowering teams regardless of where they are working.

Gone are the days when employees must be in the office to work on plans, revise contracts or produce estimates. Now, contractors can have instant access to view, edit and share critical files when moving from jobsite to jobsite, working at home or even on someone else’s computer. That’s the beauty of cloud-based file sharing.

Cloud computing also can have its challenges. Not all cloud-based file sharing solutions are as secure, flexible and ubiquitous as the company may require. To assure that the company is leveraging the cloud to its best advantage, consider the following five essential criteria to construct a cloud computing model for increased business productivity.

  1. Support mobility. When looking to leverage the cloud for file sharing productivity, be sure that the solution supports all the devices the company team uses – from smartphones to tablets and laptops. The most productive solutions will provide automatic syncing functionality with all selected devices so workers have both online and offline access to files on user-specified devices. For even more business efficiency, be sure that office documents can not only be viewed on mobile devices, but also edited and marked up without cumbersome and costly third-party applications. This will assure true mobile productivity.
  1. Sharing large files. Large files are the bane of the construction business. From blueprints and plans to presentations, photos and video files, sharing large files can be a monstrous challenge – especially when working with external contractors and vendors. Emailing them is impossible with the unpredictability of domain restrictions on file sizes. Sharing them in public cloud solutions is risky, especially when there is so much intellectual property wrapped up in the work. Select a secure file sharing solution that will enable quick and easy upload of large files into a central system from where user-controlled links to the content can be sent for seamless sharing and collaboration. When changes to the files need to be made, only the original file needs to be replaced and everyone will have automatic access to the latest version.
  1. Secure content. With more hacks and data breaches being reported every day, give strong consideration to the security of the cloud-enabled content. To keep data secure, select a cloud file sharing solution that uses 256-bit AES encryption to encrypt files and documents at every point of their life cycle. This should include encryption for when a file is in transit and when it’s stored. It also should support encryption for cached files on a mobile device so data won’t get into the wrong hands if the device is lost. It’s important to note that not all encryption is the same. Be sure to select a solution that uses different unique and rotating encryption keys for each file. These encryption keys should be securely protected under the security of a master key that’s also stored on a well-protected system.
  1. Control policies. Policy control is another vital way to improve business’ data security when using cloud computing. When a solution offers granular controls to select who can access what (including read, write, create and delete), as well as document protection such as expiry and password access, it has the ability to strategically regulate the life cycle of the content along with the ability to control what devices are authorized to access files and folders and further improve security controls. For instance, a company may want estimates or financial files to be accessible via smartphones or for certain external vendors to have access to a specific file for a week. With a sophisticated cloud file sharing solution, the control is in management’s hands so that vital information isn't unknowingly shared without authorization.
  1. Collaborate with teams freely. For a true productivity boost when using the cloud, enable active collaboration. In the construction business, that means interacting with other contractors, vendors, partners and even customers. Using a secure file sharing solution, collaboration is easily performed by sending a link to anyone that needs access to a file. But beware, some cloud file sharing solutions require that recipients register or adopt a specific file sharing platform before access is allowed. That’s like making a phone call using AT&T and making the person on the other line become an AT&T customer before they can answer the call. The best solutions will offer access to shared files regardless of whether recipients are a registered user of that service, yet still allow the sender to remain in control of the document.
By employing this criteria, a company can benefit from the secure, flexible and ubiquitous cloud computing a construction firm needs for increased business productivity and performance – regardless of where teams are working. When the workforce is unchained from the desk and free to work where they need to, business will benefit tenfold while information remains secure.
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