The internet in 1998 – it was amazing!
The new operating system from Microsoft, Windows 98 was available. Soon after, Windows 98 SE, which gave us an updated Internet Explorer, more tool upgrades and a bigger focus on the internet in general.
At the time, the main tool of the internet was email. In fact, ever since I can remember the first mainstream internet websites popping up in 1993 and 1994, email was the most useful tool for people to communicate.
And it also turned into a big hassle.
Where was I?
At that time, I was performing file conversions. This basically involved myself getting a math data file, and converting it from some format into another more manageable for the application.
I was working with vendors that dealt directly with Ford, Chevy and General Motors. It was exciting, and fun, and filled with time issues that were just necessary.
Look, I didn’t mind the billable hours.
But when almost all of my working hours involved traveling to pickup and delivery data files – well, it was a terrible scheduling problem.
But, I was still happy. The work was fulfilling. I was kicking ass.
Intro to email collaboration; or, where the problems started
I’m sure you are a bit like me when it comes to email. I don’t have a problem with email…in many ways, I never have.
But my problems were never with email itself – it was because email was the wrong tool. When the internet started to become more used email wasn’t just a tool, but was the tool. In personal and business settings, email became the tool for everything you did.
It became the method of sending advertising.
Email became the method for businesses to contact customers with information.
It became the tool for business – the only tool some business felt the need to use.
But, you know what they say when you talk about tools?
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow, 1966
How email collab almost ruined my business
So, the year was 2005 (or so), and I’m performing a few gigabytes of file translations for a direct vendor of engines for one of the major automobile manufacturers. My business had been built up over time with lots of trust, respect and experience behind me – in other words, I had a great reputation.
During communications with the business, something got lost in the way. Someone in their business process was supposed to see the files and re-upload…only they never looked at them. They simply re-uploaded the original files again. The project took a dive…a hard and heavy collapse because of this one issue…
With this one employee…
For this one part…
Now, we corrected it. No one got killed over it. But it wasted time. And time is money.
It also eroded a bit of my reputation. I could blame the process, and people – but it was me.
If I had a method to know who saw the data, my business might not have had the worry or the reputation hit. If I had a business method to be notified of views, to be notified (with everyone else in the project) of new data and to have that full set of conversation logged and tracked?
Well, maybe, just MAYBE, that wouldn’t have happened.
But this issue wasn’t the only problem I began to face.
Problems really suck the life out of business (and home, and family, and friends, and…)
No matter how much you plan your directories in email, no matter how good of a job you do organizing and executing on storage, something is always going to happen.
I was getting to that point.
I literally was sitting there in Outlook one night, with two dozen ongoing projects, contacting each one, tracking down next steps in projects, wondering “how in the world” I was keeping everything separate and on schedule.
It was a nightmare!
Then, I audited my day, and nearly had a heart-attack! That was a time where the ‘it cannot get worse’ started to happen.
Throughout my workday, I was “over-working”. While being at home, having a wife and daughter, I was spending more time working my inbox, than I was making and enjoying dinner, or heading to the park with my family, or the many other things I needed in my life.
I was losing personal time with the people I loved the most.
And I was losing a ton of revenue in my business all the while.
How much time?
Try two hours a day, on good days – at least! That is over ten hours a week, and well over 500 hours a year.
What could you do in 500 hours? And a better question, how much is 500 hours of work worth in billables and projects?
The solution wasn’t email, but it also wasn’t online either
I needed help.
I needed a method of sharing business files, but it needed to be secure – and always give me the information I needed. I wanted to have the power to partition my data and projects in a logical way, but also have all of the activity data at my fingertips. I needed to find a solution for business to perform business tasks involving file sharing and collaboration in a simple and secure way.
Now my issue was even more clear – it didn’t exist.
There were plenty of collaboration softwares on the market. There were MANY methods of file sharing as well.
But most of these had three big flaws I couldn’t overcome:
- They weren’t as focused on activity tracking and reporting features
- The solutions weren’t secure and didn’t allow me to customize to the required business process I needed
- And, finally, they were not built for business (they were billed as ‘for business’, but weren’t built for it)
Most pieces of software and SaaS I had found were built for normal people; especially single users. They didn’t have the security I was looking for. Or, they required downloading and installing (and upgrading) software. Or, worse, they didn’t allow me to directly share items with users. Or, and this became a BIG issue, was that they didn’t allow me to upload large files.
Those just weren’t the solutions at all…
So along came FTP; or ‘It works, It does not work’
The next piece of technology I experimented with was FTP.
FTP offered a big change in the way I handled file sharing and data collaboration. The technology made sense at the time. I could offer a fast method of uploading and downloading data.
First, I was able to send and receive large files as needed. This is something email collaboration just plain was terrible at. One email system had a file attachment cap of 50 megabytes, while the next had a cap of 20 megabytes, and then another capped at 250 megabytes. Things were always up and down, but with FTP, no so much.
I also was able to have more control on who was accessing the data. When I controlled the server and the FTP server, I can set access control for particular clients, in particular directories. Which worked, but it wasn’t 100% fine-tuned as I had wanted.
One final large expectation I initially had with FTP was that it would be much similar to email in that everyone could use a client to create a secure connection to transfer files.
As time went on, FTP actually became an unwelcome nuisance. Another application, that a customer had to maintain, update and learn to use. FTP had no logging nor notification ability, without added features in the fTP clients and the server itself.
And, the really bad part of FTP, was that I had to use email collaboration in conjunction with this new solution.
Seriously? FTP as a platform, still relied on email. And email needed the power of FTP.
This dance cost me work – not just time.
Enter PerfectShare – the solution to our problems
Not every solution is perfect. With file sharing involved in my business and multiple other businesses, I needed very specific items like:
- Full access control
- Methods to control access to folders and directories
- Activity tracking and reporting beyond simply ‘they downloaded it!’
- No downloads, no installations
- The look and use should be completely familiar to businesses now (little to no training)
Email collaboration only did two of these things. FTP data collaboration only did two as well.
So I built the solution instead of wasting time trying to find it.
I also saw the need to incorporate other specifics features. After all, my needs weren’t limited to myself. I needed better notifications, better browser support, no downloaded application and more.
One needed feature that really sticks out is branding…
Branded file sharing solutions don’t mean stickers and colors
Okay, at first, that was a consideration. PerfectShare could simply use the brand identity in colors and fonts and logo to build the actual branding.
But that doesn’t work in the real world.
Businesses, like mine and many others, when branding is involved, want to have the name, the logo, the ideals and their business rules all part of the solution.
True branding was a need in PerfectShare, so we built it that way as well.
PerfectShare uses sub-domains to keep the business account in their own URL. The logo, as expected, is part of the account. Your business name, welcome messages, personalized email messages and more are all there.
But that wasn’t all…
We also looked at business rules and processes. We had to ask:
As a business, in what ways do you need your data stored?
In what ways would you need your access controls handled?
How deeply nested would you expect data? And, how would that data be shared and accessed?
How would email notifications read? How would they be set?
How would we match your security rules?
Would non-disclosures and releases need to be an integrated part of PerfectShare, to make it match your business better?
…and finally the biggest question we asked about every branding feature we added into PerfectShare…
Would adding this allow your PerfectShare account to be better branded for your business?
Branding is where email doesn’t have impact, and FTP barely has any.
When someone emails, you see the footer signature and that is it. However, in PerfectShare, your brand is everywhere. It is very difficult, from the time you login, through your work, until you log out, to forget where you are.
With FTP, you might get a welcome message. But with PerfectShare, your Welcome message is clearly visible in the application. Your messages are assigned with custom notifications, directory-level messages and notes you can leave about files.
And a funny thing happened…
The more and more I used my piece of SaaS to do business, the more my customers of my data transform business became customers of PerfectShare’s solutions.
I hadn’t thought about that…
I was using their same systems, the same ones I was having issues with, and my solution worked for me. And so, it would likely work for them.
It definitely did.
What does the future hold for PerfectShare?
Simply put, a lot!
First, we are rebuilding the method used for logins, passwords and handling saved passwords. We not only want to be secure with your data, but we want access to be secured and controlled as well. With that said, we will be upgrading our login system from the ground up.
Next, we want to alter the way your branding works. We want to give you, as a PerfectShare customer, the ability to integrate PerfectShare into your existing website with a simple copy and paste of code. Seriously…data sharing with your business should be that simple.
Finally, we are going to be upgrading the notification systems we use. Not everyone operates with a popup, nor email, nor just logging in each day. You as a customer, you as a business owner, you as a person, communicate in many different ways on a daily basis. As a platform that prides itself on simple and secure communication, shouldn’t PerfectShare evolve with you?
Looking back at the last decade…
PerfectShare is a simple, secure file sharing for business platform. PerfectShare boast branding features, activity tracking and reporting tools and full access control of your sensitive data.
But what PerfectShare really could be described as is a time creator. Time is so important to us as humans, and definitely to us as business owners. More hours in the day doesn’t mean only more work to get down (and more revenue to be made), but more time with friends and family that we love.
PerfectShare does all of those things, and a lot more.
If you would like to see how PerfectShare can help your business, start an account today – it’s free for 14 days! Try out the features, talk to your employees and customers and see why PerfectShare might just be your perfect solution for your business issues.
Or, call us to schedule a demo of PerfectShare at 810.355.4443 today.