We’ve come a long way since the shared calendar; more and more people within companies are now finding that sharing information, connecting, communicating and collaborating in secure online environments can be very profitable. This shared online environment now allows people to connect with each other on projects, sales pitches, client accounts, training programs and daily work flow in real time across geographic locations and time zones.
Like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media networks, collaboration software tools are changing the face of internal information sharing within businesses as well as building connections to suppliers and clients. We know sharing and collaboration isn’t effective when it occurs in a vacuum. Real collaboration requires individuals working together in a coordinated fashion, towards a common goal. Smart leaders know this and use collaboration software to accelerate internal business communications and learning. This approach sees interactive work systems and teams produce more effective, innovative, efficient and profitable sales results
Tools such as Dropbox revolutionise the way people work together. Dropbox was founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, two MIT students tired of emailing files to themselves and one another in order to work from more than multiple computers. Dropbox is a free service where people load photos, docs and videos and share them easily. There’s also a commercial arm where you can pay for higher end services. Dropbox means anyone can work online or offline from any smart phone, computer, or tablet and share docs, slides and large files easily with colleagues and clients. t allows people to get a team up and running in minutes, with the necessary administration controls to make setup easy. The Chatter function on Salesforce CRM is another communication and collaboration feature that allows people, especially sales teams to connect and exchange information, ideas and learning. One of our clients is using the Chatter function to keep sales people connected and informed about the ongoing sales training they are undertaking with us – this is keeping momentum and facilitating the continuous learning environment necessary for sales transformation.
This open sharing and communication may sound too good to be true and it can be if security and systems is not up to scratch. You need to make sure that your collaboration software is backed by a legitimate business and has dedicated phone support, bank grade encryption and unlimited version history for all your files.
Other forms of online collaboration include:
- Video conferencing
- Project management
- Application sharing
- Workflow systems
- Knowledge management systems
- Instant messaging
Social networking platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn prove people love to collaborate and share. These networks provide a fairly informal environment for people to use for this purpose. If you’re going to use collaboration software in your business make sure you do not over-formalise the process. Collaboration becomes a burden if management use it as a process control tool.
The benefits of collaboration software are not hard to identify:
- Reduced costs associated with travel, time out of office, meetings, information sharing and project coordination.
- Creation of new opportunities.
- Faster response when groups need to collaborate.
- Less likelihood of mistakes when collaboration supports well defined processes.
- Greater transparency and accountability.
Wikipedia has a list of the wide range of collaboration software available. This list is divided into proprietary or free software, and open source software, with several comparison tables among different product and vendors characteristics. It also includes a section of “projectware” or project collaboration software, which can combine with cloud computing services to become a standard feature in a category of computer software: collaboration platforms
As more people work remotely, collaboration tools are becoming the norm. This is purely because they make the ability for remote workers to share and work in a manner that was once only possible in a shared physical environment easier.
Smart leaders recognise the power of collaboration systems to transform the efficiency and will use collaboration software to accelerate internal business communications as well as partner, supplier and client communication. Taking advantage of the collaboration systems available to your business will see your work systems improve and your teams produce more effective, innovative, efficient and profitable sales results
Remember everybody lives by selling something.