Collaboration Systems – from floppy disc to Microsoft Office Web Apps for SkyDrive

You probably know how old I am when I mentioned floppy disc in the title; because floppy disc was the only way that we could share information on an IBM PC 25 years ago.  Later, we had local area network (LAN); and when I prepared the business case for installing the first LAN in my company, the key benefits that I mentioned was collaboration.  We could share information securely!  How amazing! But the collaboration was still limited to a small group of people, typically within the same department.  Then email has become very popular and we could share information with our business partners, customers, suppliers… etc.  And yesterday, I read from the news that Microsoft launched Microsoft Office Web Apps for SkyDrive which would take collaboration to another level, i.e. multiple users can discuss and edit a particular document concurrently.  Why has collaboration been so important?  Virtually all major software vendors provided collaboration systems, e.g. Google, IBM, Microsoft and even Facebook.

Should my company use collaboration system?  I believe most of us are using them now, e.g. email, shared folders or instant message (IM).  The question is if you want to bring in a more effective collaboration system.  Before you answer this question, you may want to ask you a more fundamental question: what are the benefits of collaboration?

Frost & Sullivan published a whitepaper which was based on a survey of 946 decision makers in key positions.  Below is a summary of its finding:

  • Overall performance: Collaboration contributes 36% of overall business performance; twice the impact of a company’s strategic orientation.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Collaboration is the sole influencing factor; driving 41% of customer satisfaction.
  • Labour Productivity: Collaboration delivers 35% of labour productivity; 4 times higher than company’s strategic orientation.
  • Product: Collaboration is also the main driving force for product quality (34%) and product development (30%).
  • Innovation: 30% and it is 7.5 times higher than company’s strategic orientation.

You may wonder how collaboration could deliver such incredible effects, how can you achieve such results?  I believe there are 6 main areas that are positively influenced by collaboration:

  • Communication: It is quite obvious that improved collaboration means increased communication and hence better innovation.
  • Innovation: Once you have better innovation, then you would improve productivity and increase quality of your services / products.
  • Customer: If you deliver better services / products, then more customers would come to you.
  • Planning: Today’s collaboration system allows your and business partners to do planning more flexibly and effectively.
  • Control: Improved collaboration also give you better control on your business; you can have a better and timely picture on your financial, operational and sales performance.
  • Stronger team: You can collaborate with your team more effectively, no matter if they are in different offices, working styles. You can all stay connected.

Most current collaboration systems allow you to:

  • Reduce time and cost that are required to do a face to face meeting.
  • Building team and developing new client base that were used to be out of your geographical boundaries.
  • Provide more responsive services to your clients
  • Effective control your time

If you are still using email as main collaboration system, then you may miss a lot of opportunities, i.e. improve bottom line, reaching out to new clients and building a stronger team. What next? You should at least try Microsoft Office Web Apps for SkyDrive and Skype.  They are both free collaboration systems.  And if you are ready and looking for something much more powerful, then Microsoft SharePoint Online and Office 2010 would deliver features that you would not even imagine.

Andrew Chan is the owner and founder of ALG Inc.

We help you to make better and faster decisions!

About Andrew Chan
Andrew Chan is an Business Consultant who gives you accurate, consistent and timely information so that you can make better and faster decisions. He is an Associate of Society of Actuaries with over 20 years of IT experience. Apart from strong analytical skills and proven technical background, he was also a former system director at Manulife who had extensive project management experience. If you are looking for someone to gather, consolidate, validate, visualize and analyze data, look no further! Andrew can provide the most cost effective business analytics solution so that you can explore, optimize, predict and visualize your business. Don’t guess on any decision, no matter it is finance, operation, marketing or sales! Always ask for evidence!

One Response to Collaboration Systems – from floppy disc to Microsoft Office Web Apps for SkyDrive

  1. Pingback: Risk + 2.0: The week in links 6/11/2010 « Risk + 2.0

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