Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Jason Bloomberg, Larry Alton

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Wearables

Agile Computing: Blog Feed Post

What Is Collaboration Software? Back to the Basics

Collaboration software evidently has something to do with collaboration

Overuse tends to a suck a phrase of meaning, and the same may be said of “collaboration”. As an executive, you’ve probably been inundated with articles on “collaboration software” and its business possibilities. But it seems to mean different things at different times. Sometimes it means email, other times document sharing with Google Drive, and still other times managing projects with Basecamp. And when the social network Google + was launched, you were told enterprise collaboration was forever changed.

You probably experienced what may be described as information induced paralysis. OK, so “collaboration software” amazing. What next?

Time to take a step back and structure our thinking.

Collaboration software evidently has something to do with collaboration – or to work together. One might say that every business reduces to collaboration – humans working together to achieve a common objective. Collaboration software is therefore software which facilitates “working together”.

Although every business is unique, there are certain aspects of “working together” which are universal across business types – isn’t that the very basis of management studies? These universal activities, which you will immediately identify as happening in your own company are:

- Communication

- Sharing information

- Working together on information

- Coordination of efforts


Any software which serves any of the above needs can be validly called “collaboration software”. So, the authors were all accurate in their own place.

Collaboration software may be categorized in the following “types”.

Single-purpose collaboration software

These software target just one aspect of working together.

Email. Email is the grand-daddy of collaboration software and ironically, still the most commonly used. Its basic purpose is “communication” both internal and external. Its structure allows it to be used for other collaborative tasks as well, but as many would say, sub optimally.

Discussion boards. Discussion boards are geared for many to many communication – many people contribute their ideas. You may still use email for discussions, but at your own peril.

Document management.  “Documents” or structured units of information, are probably at the core of every business.  Most of our work days consist of creating, working together on, or sharing documents with others. “Document management” software enable companies to store, organize and access documents. Document collaboration features include version control and audit trails to manage multiple contributors, and permissions to manage access.

Project management. All business effort can be broken into a set of tasks, involving multiple people (inside and outside the organization) aggregated as “projects”. These tasks and projects have dependencies and sequence relationships. Project management software allow managers to assign tasks, set milestones, set dependencies and monitor progress and hence make sure everything is on track.

Intranets (and extranets). Intranets (or extranets when external parties are involved) are basically web pages. They may be seen as communication tools, where the management publishes policies, plans, or events for the employees’ benefit, or even uses as a device to motivate employees (through “message of the day”, “employee of the quarter” etc.).

Social tools. Social tools like networking, activity streams and wall messaging have often been called the new email. Their primary purpose is communication and sharing, but they are designed in a unique dynamic, people centric way, which feels like a big improvement over email.

Workflow tools. Although not commonly, workflow tools are sometimes seen as collaboration tools. A workflow is a business transaction as it evolves from inception to closure. Workflow software manage the information associated with a workflow as it evolves through different stages. Some examples are the CRM workflow and the support workflow.

IM. Instant messaging is geared towards communication which needs to be instantaneous.

Collaboration suites

Collaboration suites are a collection of multiple individual collaboration tools, with various points of integration. The philosophy is – no one tool is adequate for collaboration. All companies need different collaboration tools depending on the situation. So why not have them in a single solution?

Moreover, collaboration suites emphasize that different collaboration tools actually need to share information. For example projects usually have associated specifications documents, calendar events are often associated with project deadlines and so on. Having these tools in separate solutions creates non interacting silos, or what is also called “collaboration sprawl”. It is therefore efficient to have multiple collaboration tools in a single solution that freely exchange information. Our http://www.hyperoffice.com/collaboration-suite/HyperOffice collaboration suite is an example of collaboration suites.

Unified communications and collaboration

The concept of “collaboration software” might be stretched still further and involve audio communications as well. “Unified communication and collaboration” solutions add voice communications tools like audio and web conferencing, voicemail, and telephony on top of a suite of collaboration tools.

However, due to the sophistication and expense of these solutions, they are implemented mostly in large enterprises.

Traditional collaboration software vs. cloud collaboration software

Collaboration software may further be distinguished in terms of the method of deployment. Some collaboration software are deployed on company servers, and geared towards collaboration within the company. These may be called “on premise” collaboration software. Sharepoint is an example.

“Cloud” collaboration software is deployed over the internet and may be accessed through a web browser on any internet connected device. It is independent of the technological environment of the user. Cloud collaboration software is therefore suitable for distributed networks of remote teams, customers and partners.

The cloud is now increasingly seen as the natural deployment environment for collaboration software. Firstly, it suits modern teams which are increasingly distributed and mobile. Secondly, it is part of the general movement driven by cloud software, where business and IT is sought to be aligned by making software end user focused. Finally, the subscription based cost structure (software as a service) is ideal for small and medium sized businesses who want to avoid the heavy capital investment of on premise collaboration software.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Pankaj Taneja

An MBA by qualification, Pankaj Taneja has more than six years of experience in the SaaS and web collaboration industries. Having seen SaaS grow from a niche sector to the next big thing in enterprise technology, he has a great enthusiasm and passion for the sphere. Pankaj has been working for many years at HyperOffice, one of the earliest players in web collaboration since 1998, an industry which now includes solutions from Google, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, Adobe and more. It is amazing being part of a pioneer in collaboration, riding a wave which only promises to grow.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Corporation is a company developing, manufacturing and marketing high quality and wide variety of industrial computers and interface modules such as PCIs and PCI express. For more information, visit http://www.i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, will discuss how data centers of the future will be managed, how th...
There is huge complexity in implementing a successful digital business that requires efficient on-premise and cloud back-end infrastructure, IT and Internet of Things (IoT) data, analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Applications. In the data center alone, there are physical and virtual infrastructures, multiple operating systems, multiple applications and new and emerging business and technological paradigms such as cloud computing and XaaS. And then there are pe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
Real IoT production deployments running at scale are collecting sensor data from hundreds / thousands / millions of devices. The goal is to take business-critical actions on the real-time data and find insights from stored datasets. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Walicki, Watson IoT Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud, will provide a fast-paced developer journey that follows the IoT sensor data from generation, to edge gateway, to edge analytics, to encryption, to the IBM Bluemix cloud, to Wa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...