Tag Archives: Cloud Collaboration

Why Cloud Collaboration is Very Important – Part I

Wikipedia defines “Cloud Collaboration” as “a way of sharing and co-authoring computer files through the use of cloud computing, whereby documents are uploaded to a central “cloud” for storage, where they can then be accessed by others. Cloud collaboration technologies allow users to upload, comment and collaborate on documents and even amend the document itself, evolving the document.

The increased ease with which employees can now collaborate online is one of the most important and revolutionary of all of the advantages that the Internet itself has brought to the table for businesses of all sizes. However, although online collaboration (both over LANs and the cloud) has been readily available through a variety of different means to businesses for some time now, many enterprises are still somehow hesitant to take advantage of these valuable tools, often opting instead for basic email exchanges as their go-to collaboration method. With all the myriad advantages of utilising the cloud for collaboration, why are these enterprises still holding on to doing things the old fashioned way?

First off, some companies that have yet to harness the power of the cloud may try to point toward the relative familiarity and simplicity of using email for collaboration versus cutting edge cloud tools. However, this can be seen as somewhat ironic when one considers the fact that, when compared to the streamlined process of collaboration in the cloud, group projects through email can often become suddenly very complicated at a moment’s notice, with potential mis-saves to storage servers being a constant risk, not to mention the confusion that can result as to which collaborator has the most recent version of the collaborative project in question. In addition to this, the very simplicity of this one-way communication style often also serves to inhibit creativity by forcing the participants to create a rigid, preconceived hierarchical structure so as to avoid the above-mentioned confusions, delays and accidents that can be so common to collaborative email threads.

Another factor that often leaves businesses afraid to take advantage of the cloud for collaboration are ill-informed concerns over security. While being cautious about security is an understandable, nay, advisable stance for people to take (especially when beginning to use a new technology), it is important to keep in mind that, once again, cloud collaboration has been around for some time now, and thus potential security issues have been thoroughly addressed by cloud vendors. In fact, files being shared and accessed in the cloud oftentimes end up being more secure than ones passed around through email as simple unencrypted attachments!

In Part II, we will further discuss further the importance of cloud collaboration.

Cloud Collaboration: How Important is it to you?

If you run a business in which nothing gets done without collaboration and communication, this article will be of immense value to you. The cloud has transformed the way in which businesses collaborate. Collaboration tools no longer mere “assistive” products. They have become the lifeline of organisations. Wiki’s, emails, and newsfeeds have expanded to embrace mobile and broadband technologies that nullify distances between groups of people and bring them together here and now. Teams of workers can now, collaborate, communicate, discuss, and innovate together in “virtual communities”, identify the challenges, work around problems and arrive at solutions interactively, whatever the time or zone in which they are residing.

A Forbes report on cloud based collaboration tools lists out four advantages of collaboration in the cloud:

1. Accelerate business results
2. Revolutionise communication across time and geographical boundaries
3. Improve the efficiency of business processes
4. Enable innovation

The reported survey indicated that organisations that were more familiar with cloud collaboration tools were more likely to hold a “positive view of their value”. The survey divided the respondents into leaders, followers, early majority, late majority, and laggards, according to their responses to an initial set of questions. Further, questionnaires revealed that the “perceived value of cloud collaboration tools” varied between the categories in proportion to their exposure to and use of the cloud collaboration tools. In other words, the greatest impact of cloud based collaboration tools on their business was felt by those who had used them more.

Cloud based collaboration business benefits listed out by some of the “leaders” in this survey include:

1. End of faceless communication. Even where databases are scattered and accessible at only one end of the communication channel, videoconferencing has made it possible to make the engagement more meaningful.
2. Prioritisation of tasks has been made possible with document management tools, and communication tools that come packaged with cloud collaboration. For the first time, important tasks can be highlighted and brought to the attention of those who need to know and act immediately. Linearity of communication can be by-passed.
3. Collaboration tools provide more than literal communication. Employees can now update profiles to inform their colleagues of their area of expertise or tag important issues so that they get the attention they need, when it is needed.
4. Duplication of effort within the business is considerably reduced, and employee productivity improves with easier access to information.
5. Problem solving and innovation becomes a reality.
6. Allows greater communication with customers and suppliers.
7. Supports business scalability.
8. Enables new products and services.
9. Reduces operational costs.

So, if you have not given a thought to cloud based collaboration till date, it is time to sit down and think again and plan accordingly. Find out how important it is to you, and to your business!

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