Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, knew the importance of collaborative work. “He believed that Apple’s great advantage was its integration of the whole widget – from design to hardware to software to content-he wanted all departments at the company to work together in parallel,” writes Walter Isaacson in his biography, Steve Jobs. Jobs involved all departments in the development process. “Our method was to develop integrated products, and that meant our process had to be integrated and collaborative,” Jobs said.
But funnily enough, this collaboration took place around a big table, where various departments would thrash out ideas and offer their own perspectives. Imagine how he would receive the array of online business collaboration tools now making their way into the workplace!
Online collaboration tools (also known as cloud computing software) bring many advantages. For one, they enable distributed teams to work together more effectively, bringing together talent across offices and locations. They open communication channels by taking conversation out of fragmented emails and messaging. They can also make projects far more streamlined by ensuring that workflow and documents are hosted in one central place, with no one person sitting on a bunch of crucial files or information.
Finding the best online collaboration tools for your business can be a time consuming task, but we’re here to help! Read on for a roundup of a few tools we recommend checking out.
For social-media-savvy businesses, Hootsuite helps manage social accounts including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. With a shared, web-based dashboard, your team can schedule messages, allocate tasks and responses, and measure results. Various business plans are available, depending on your size.
Think your dispersed team could benefit from an old-fashioned brainstorm? Try Talkboard, a collaborative whiteboarding app for iPad that lets you sketch out ideas and share them with others.
CommonKey is a secure online password manager, built with collaboration in mind. Unlike password managers designed for individuals, CommonKey allows colleagues to create shared accounts and joint access to some passwords.
Podio is a planning and project management tool that can be used to collate ideas, edit and annotate files and store budgets and contacts. Teams can create online ‘workspaces’ to organise projects and groups and use custom project-management apps to create and manage tasks and ideas. With an enormous app library and the ability to build all-new apps, Podio is a perfect fit for any team’s workflow.
With Marqueed, users can discuss images online by ‘pointing’ out areas, drawing out ideas, and holding threaded discussions right on the image.
GroupZap is a team brainstorming tool. It enables groups to share notes, pictures and documents to a unique webpage, creating a collage of ideas.
ShareFile is a business file sync and sharing service designed for collaboration. Users can securely access files from any device and share with people both inside and outside the organisation for easy communication and enhanced productivity.
Murally is a collaborative online wall. It allows teams to get down their thoughts and insights in one place, illustrating them with multimedia from the internet or their computers. Collaborators can be kept in the loop with comments, live conversation and online voting.
GoToMeeting allows users to have in-person meetings anytime, with anyone. Features such as video chat, built-in audio, and the ability to share screens and mouse controls create a collaborative, authentic meeting experience without the travel costs and inconvenience. Meetings can be launched instantly, making it suitable for ad hoc meetings as well as those that are scheduled ahead of time.
GoVisually lets you organise your projects, designs, iterations and collaborators in one place, cutting out the need for email. Instead, team members can provide feedback in simple, threaded conversations.
Redpen helps visual teams collaborate anywhere around the world. Point-and-click functionality makes it easy to share instant feedback, and Redpen saves previous versions of images so it’s easy to track progress or revert to an older version.
Have you found other online tools to help your team collaborate? Please let us know in the comments below.
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