Collaboration software: The new sharing
“The New Sharing” was voted as the number 11 Sales Trends for 2011. Just think, it was a milestone to have a shared calendar! Well, think again. We’ve come a long way. Look out for new collaboration software tools; people within companies are better sharing information, connecting, communicating and collaborating in secure online environments. Because of this, people can connect about projects, sales pitches, client accounts and daily workflow 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. This approach sees interactive work systems and teams produce more effective, innovative, efficient and profitable sales results in 2011.
For instance, 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 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 smartphone, computer, or tablet and share documents, slides and large files easily with colleagues and clients. It allows people to get a team up and running in minutes, with the necessary administration controls to make setup easy.
This may sound too good to be true and it can be if security and systems are 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 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. 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 an emerging category of computer software: collaboration platforms.
As more people work remotely, collaboration tools will become 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 in 2011 and beyond.
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett practices as a coach, advisor, speaker, facilitator, consultant and writer and works across all market segments with her skilful team at BARRETT. Sue and her team take the guess work out of selling and help people from many different careers become aware of their sales capabilities and enable them to take the steps to becoming effective and productive when it comes to selling, sales coaching or sales leadership.To hone your sales skills or learn how to sell go to www.barrett.com.au.