New Collaboration Tools That Fit Your Strategy

Collaboration is a hot word amongst the leading IT companies like CISCO, IBM and SAP.  They are all using ‘collaboration’ as a catch all word to describe the new ways that staff and customers can interact with each other. The word means slightly different things to each of these companies, but they all describe two key components.

Two Main Collaboration Components

  1. The physical aspect of collaboration, meaning the surroundings in which we find ourselves to collaborate.
  2. The Virtual aspect of collaboration, meaning the tools we use to communicate.

These two components are a way for us to talk, share and interact with each other, which makes use of a variety of technologies that need to be tailored to fit your needs.

A more traditional interpretation of collaboration includes web conferencing – screen sharing, audio conferencing and video conferencing and not necessarily Unified Communications.

Roughly 25% of small businesses will have a social media presence in upcoming years. As businesses look for new ways to remain competitive online, a social media strategy will become a more attractive option for businesses of all sizes.

child heads with symbolsA new breed of collaborative tools embraces traditional and new ways to participate in collective thoughts, ideas and project/people development. CISCO and IBM for example both feel that social networking in the business is a significant way to collaborate – think of it as Facebook for your business, a place to share thoughts and ideas, share files (images, videos etc.) to find people in your organization, to save a profile about yourself and others, to message board or chat. CISCO Quad and IBM Connections both offer these sorts of features, as well as others such as SpeechBobble.

The good thing about social media is that it’s possible for businesses of all sizes to do something – even if it’s small.  From company blogs to collaboration in online communities, there are lots of ways for businesses to make this leap.

Project Sharing

  1. Another separate yet relevant web collaboration approach is more directly related to projects and sharing the goals and objectives online in a community, Microsoft Team Foundation Server is an example of this type of tool, with deep integration with IT software project development it caters to a slightly different collaborative mode of working, yet has social network features built in
  2. Basecamp is another example of an ‘online project collaboration tool’, with a very large user community it is focused on the project approach to collaboration.
  3. It also has many of the social networking tool features that are found in the products from IBM, CISCO and others mentioned above, such as message boards, ideas forums, file sharing and more.

So when we talk of collaboration, it is important to distinguish if the tools and technologies are live (or real time) or passive (non-real time). Most of the tools above would be considered as passive tools, and don’t require all parties to be on a call together, communicating with each other at the same time.  ET Group has focused our attention on the active collaboration tools allow conferencing via interactive whiteboards, the web, video and audio.  These are all considered real time collaboration technologies and are part of every company’s collaborative ecosystem.

Most companies have an informal collaborative ecosystem.  But more and more this needs to be formalized and managed to capture the benefits that collaboration has to offer. Contact us if you want to learn more about collaboration technology.