Employees need business collaboration software to centralize information, share documents, manage projects, and communicate securely in real time in a shared space. According to a recent study, internal collaboration is crucial for 63 percent of enterprises. About 80 percent of companies find that document sharing is extremely important, with workflows coming in at 50 percent and team project sites at 43 percent.
But companies want collaboration applications to be simple, and this has led to demand for cloud-based collaboration tools that only need a download of client software for local and remote users, instead of the implementation of servers and software that must be updated by IT teams on a regular basis. As a result, cloud-based collaboration tool adoption is on the rise.
Though phone calls and email are fine for some projects, companies are slowly migrating to cloud-based collaboration tools in order to realize cost reductions, simplified implementation and management, and security. Enterprises are increasingly moving to the cloud for applications such as document management, real-time communication, meeting organization, and social networking.
Document Management – Cloud-based file sharing allows companies to work without VPNs or file servers. Companies have discovered that many online services such as Box, Dropbox, Egnyte, and SugarSync can effectively replace existing, on-premises, hosted file servers. This also reduces virtual private network (VPN) costs. If enterprise IT departments fail to provision cloud-based file sharing and synchronization, there is a risk that employees will adopt publicly available tools instead. This takes control of enterprise documents out of the company’s hands, thus creating security and compliance issues. Many cloud applications come with built-in monitoring tools, and IT departments should take advantage of them.
Real-Time Communication – Real-time communication in the cloud is more flexible than it is on-premise. IT departments can have features turned on when needed, can scale communications up or down as needed, will know exactly what it will cost, and won’t have to do a lot of work to get it done. A huge footprint is not required, and security is another benefit of cloud communication. In the long run, the cloud lets companies manage for high performance in a time of diminishing budgets.
Engaged Meetings – The telephone was once the standard means of remote collaboration. Today, companies are using audio conferencing reinforced with streaming video delivered via the cloud. Advantages include the improved quality of communication attained through the ability to gauge facial reactions and mannerisms. Organizations today are making comprehensive use of cloud-delivered collaborative tools featuring a consistent interface among teams that allows them to simultaneously view presentations, share documents, and see other participants. Combining visual with voice distinctively enhances the quality of synergy. In addition, the ability to record events allows others to review meetings when required.
Social Networking – Social networking for enterprises involves a purpose-built social media-style platform that is designed to support business objectives. Team members can update their personal profiles to show current skills, project-related interests, and requirements. Participants can post documents, videos, emails, links, and other items of potential interest to coworkers throughout in the company. Tags, or search terms based on keywords, can be added to these items so others can find who and what they need. Team members can also view each other’s calendars, exchange emails and IMs, or launch calls. Advanced social media systems can also permit assignment and review of work based on priorities. Advanced platforms require standardization in key areas such as communication, conferencing, data retrieval and storage, security, and search capabilities. All of these features are best achieved and maintained in a cloud environment.
Because enterprises are increasingly moving to the cloud for applications such as document management, real-time communication, meeting organization and social networking, these are the tools VARs should be most familiar with. VARs that are able to show the benefits of these applications to enterprise customers will be successful in sales and be viewed as trusted advisors by the companies they are selling to.
Are there additional applications in the cloud you would like to see discussed in this forum? Please comment below.