Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Personal tools show the way in business collaboration

How will businesses collaborate in the future? This is the core question of a GigaOm Pro report released some time ago. It is titled 'Practical business collaboration: personal tools show the way' and was written by Thomas van der Wal and David Card.

Based on a survey of business managers, problematic areas around business content collaboration were signaled and directions for solutions are given in the report.

Much of today's collaboration still happens in email. 96% says they use email for internal content sharing and 92% for sharing with externals (and this does not correlate with age...).

Some companies like Atos are (planning on) banning email. Businesses are looking for ways to increase employee "productivity, accommodate or counter email limitations, and reduce costs". If a new tool addresses these topics it will probably be adopted quickly.

Searching and tracking documents is still a big problem for companies. Access or lack thereof to content is also an issue.

With email the size of attachments is an issue. And attachments create storage problems when sent around. Email is not optimal for file sharing. But email is, as mentioned above, still a central tool for many. The business managers state that the adoption of new collaboration tools will increase if they are connected to email.

Interesting fact from the survey is that 50% use personal tools to overcome the limitations of email and other collaboration tools, often without IT's knowledge.

What should the business tools of the future be like? They should be easy to use (w.r.t. file sharing), connect with email, support employee mobility and be secure. Looking at the current tool landscape there are many solutions that address these needs. But they are usually not enterprise but personal solutions, like Dropbox. I agree with the report, there's a business opportunity here.

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