Just yesterday I asked a question: can you really trust Google’s tools enough to run your business in the cloud? And it got me thinking about yet another initiative Google recently announced: printing documents in the cloud.

I’m not talking Google’s often-questionable security on this one. In fact, in a way I think cloud printing makes more sense than many of the other things we’ve all started doing virtually since Google became big brother. But because it’s so simple I pretty much ask “who cares”?

Let’s start with what the cloud is. In simple terms cloud computing means that you’re using resources you don’t actually possess or aren’t physically connected to. In a sense, if you’ve set up a wireless network to access the Internet in your home or at your business you’ve created your own cloud, albeit one with only a single virtual resource: your Internet connection.

So Google Docs, for example, is a cloud resource that exists on the Internet, and you need an Internet connection to get to the documents you store there. And now Google wants to make it so you can print over the Internet to a printer you aren’t physically attached to.

And I ask: so what?

In the late 1990s, I was one of the principals at a company called Planet Computer, which among other things developed software that made this possible way back then. And in its way it’s a cool enough idea, but honestly it was a limited implementation that really gave our clients the ability to send a print command home to their business when on the road so that . . . what? Someone else could pick up the documents and either put them aside or mail them to you? Neat, but not actually all that useful other than in situations where you would have your assistant organize something for you now, rather than when you got back.

I own a printer right now that cost barely $100 and lets me print that way in my home, and share the printer among everyone on my network. Honestly, it does the same thing Google is trying to tell us will be another great “cloud resource”.

Why do I bring this up?

Business Change is an interesting topic, but sometimes the best changes you make are the ones that involve saying “no, thank you” to new and supposedly improved things. So while I think Google Docs can be a great tool for storage, collaboration, and accessibility (assuming you take steps to make sure you can get to your documents when the Internet is “down”), printing through the cloud sounds like an idea that doesn’t really mean all that much, and worse, becomes just another distraction to deal with.

The Computer Answer Guy and PC-VIP are our two flavors of business help to manage your computers, and at both we stress working smart. Speaking as a guy with decades of experience helping businesses manage change, create business process, and save time I implore you: please manage ideas like cloud computing very carefully.

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