Cloud applications and tools to manage projects, tasks, communications, and sharing of corporate documents in the workgroup
In the broadest sense of the term, collaboration software (most commonly collaboration tools ) encompasses several functions that help employees work together even if they are in different places. This collaboration can be focused on a particular task or extend to the company’s daily activities, can only concern employees, or involve any person outside the company. Therefore, it is a vast category of solutions: even a simple program for managing shared agendas is a collaboration tool. However, it is not such limited solutions that one thinks of when the term is mentioned.
Collaboration platforms can be divided into two macro-areas that are increasingly overlapping: real-time collaboration and what in the nineties went under the name of groupware, software tools that facilitate the performance of everyday activities but are asynchronous.
Today, a collaboration system usually covers both areas, allowing the sharing of information and even some form of communication in real-time. At the same time, many personal productivity tools have been added to their equipment functions for collaboration between colleagues; for example, the office suites allow almost all to intervene on the same document at the same time, with also text chat functions and any platform, including consumer cloud storage. Allows you to share files between multiple people.
The difference between these periodic functions and a real collaboration platform lies in the completeness of the functions offered, the openness to other systems (particularly those of Unified Communications ), and the possibility of centralized control of collaboration sessions. The latter is an increasingly critical element because the sharing of information and documents is the basis of collaboration but must be related to corporate information confidentiality and protection needs.
The primary purpose of collaboration software is to increase the productivity of a workgroup by optimizing and automating some functions that can easily be delegated to a software platform. Mainly they are the following:
- keep track of the progress of individual tasks
- automatically send updates on the progress of tasks to interested parties
- manage flows of operations in cascade
- offer common virtual spaces in which to share documents
- enable online discussion forms by keeping track of them
Solutions of this type are increasingly offered in the cloud to be always reachable with various devices (PC, smartphone, tablet) and from anywhere. Still, they can also be hosted on company servers to have greater control over the management of documents. There are also hybrid platforms in which part of the activities are carried out in the cloud, but the most critical documents do not leave the corporate network.
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The Main Collaboration Software
Enterprise collaboration software is transforming the way individual users and workgroups communicate with each other. Therefore, we should not be surprised if their number increases and if the choice goes far beyond already well-established companies such as Slack and Yammer.
We, therefore, decided to choose the 9 best collaborative tools for companies, indicating the essential features and prices for each.
Tailored Software Solutions
What many companies forget is that software that champions collaboration doesn’t always need to be broad enough for a whole host of use cases. In fact, there are plenty of software solutions that encourage and facilitate collaboration in a specific area of business.
For instance, contract management software is often designed to make it easier and more efficient to collaborate on contracts, whether that is at the early stages of contract creation where business teams can use templates already made by legal teams, or later on during the negotiation stages where the software allows parties to negotiate terms in one single workspace.
Another example of such software is Salesforce, where sales teams can share data and communicate using the platform with ease.
When deciding which software you should implement to empower your business teams to collaborate, it’s important to first identify the areas where this collaboration has previously been weak, or non-existing, and implement that technology there to begin.
Slack’s real-time messaging has become an ideal and widespread choice in the Workplace, thanks to the user-friendly interface and integration with widely used applications such as Skype, Google Drive, and Twitter.
Slack recently added video calling to Mac, Windows, and Chrome versions and offered a more profound experience for those using Google Cloud. The partnership with the big G makes it possible to integrate the Google Drive permissions process, document preview, and a new bot to manage notifications and comments.
Slack costs $ 6.67 per month per single user for the Standard version, while the Plus package costs $ 12.50 per month (also per single user). A free version is also available, but it lacks several features, such as unlimited group messages and calls (video and voice) storage.
The social giant recently took a big step towards professional users with Workplace’s final and global launch. It is a service that combines the familiar Facebook interface, Messenger chat, and news feed with new tools, including an analytics dashboard.
Facebook has added a new collaboration platform to Workplace that allows companies to build applications, including integrations with third-party products such as Box and Gmail.
Workplace, which still offers a free 90-day trial version, costs $ 3 per month for a single user up to a maximum of 1000 users, but the price drops to $ 2 per month (from 1001 to 10,000 users) and 1 dollar per month for each user above 10,000.
When Microsoft entered the enterprise collaboration market, it did so in 2012 with the $ 1.2 billion acquisition of Yammer.
This service allows companies to compile messages, files, and updates in a single location and increases information sharing through chat groups. Yammer users can interact both within public and open groups and in private groups if they need to share sensitive information.
Yammer is seamlessly integrated with Office 365, and the Yammer Enterprise plan is no longer active as of January 1st of this year. To sign up as new users starting from this date and for those who want to renew their previously subscribed plan, it is necessary to upgrade to one of the Office 365 Enterprise plans starting from level K1, which for 3.40 euros per month per user includes Yammer, Outlook email, access to online Office apps (including for editing and creation), and much more.
The messaging service offered by Cisco Spark includes text, voice, video, and content sharing options that can be divided into individual “rooms” for each conversation. Spark also offers integration with Cisco products and free support.
You can currently use Spark for free in a version that includes unlimited in-app calling and messaging, display sharing, up to 5GB for file sharing, end-to-end encryption, and integration with up to 10 apps.
The $ 12-per- month, single-user Premium version adds integration with Outlook and Exchange, corporate directories, and an unlimited number of apps. In addition, this version integrates administration controls and more advanced life support.
Spark can be delivered in the cloud, on-premise, or as part of hybrid services, and through Spark Depot allows its users to find third-party apps (such as Salesforce) that integrate with Spark.
Microsoft launched Teams last November, a serious contender to Slack defined as a “chat-based workspace” within Office 365. Users can send direct messages or be grouped into a team to discuss a topic and share documents.
Unlike Skype for the Business messaging platform, Teams comes with a complete set of emojis, gifs, and memes. Unlike Slack, whose chats can get confusing and disorganized, Teams integrates so-called Threaded Conversations, a feature with which the platform keeps track of conversation threads and allows you to reply in bulk to all participants of that thread.
The main advantage of Teams is that it integrates seamlessly with famous Office 365 products such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and Skype video conferencing and file sharing via SharePoint.
Jive’s intranet software provides real-time communication and collaboration tools through activity streams, discussions, and blogs.
Multiple users can edit and view documents in real-time, and interactions can be evaluated through integrated analytical tools. Jive also integrates seamlessly with Office 365, SharePoint, Salesforce, and Google Docs / G Suite.
Among the strengths of the collaborative hub of Jive also stand out the Recommender Engine, which uses machine learning to customize and enrich content, and Open Search function) that covers the OneDrive storage and the Jive communities.
Prysm Software Platform
Prysm Software Platform offers a standardized communication experience across devices and workstations that includes video conferencing, content sharing, and document collaboration.
Cloud-based workspaces are accessible to attendees from up to 25 seats simultaneously and offer various collaboration tools, including on-screen annotations, digital whiteboards, device sharing, and web-based application support.
A key advantage of Prysm is that it can integrate software from multiple third-party vendors. This allows an employee who uses Google Docs, for example, to collaborate with a colleague who uses MS Word on the same screen as the meeting managed by the Prysm platform.
The software is available for $ 29 per user per month (for more than 25 users) or $ 39 per month (for 5 to 25 users).
London-based startup LoopUp is becoming one of the hottest audio and video conferencing platforms of the moment. Users can see who they are talking to in real-time without the need to fully enter the videoconference, whose participants can be silenced if necessary by the managers.
LoopUp promises a very intuitive user experience, combining effective integration with tools like Outlook focusing on security.
LoopUp is available in three paid versions. The $ 22 / month Professional plan, a $ 44 / month Power version, and a pay-as-you-go Enterprise option with pricing depending on the type of use.
Stride is the latest addition to Atlassian’s repertoire of collaboration tools. The platform combines messaging, video conferencing, and a range of collaboration tools.
Tools include Focus Mode, a mode designed to eliminate distractions by temporarily disabling all notifications and messages, except those sent directly to the user. Returning to normal mode, the user receives all notifications arrived in the meantime.
Another new feature is “Actions and Decisions,” which allows you to save, assign and categorize specific messages and tasks. The platform also offers customizable notifications, advanced text editing, image annotation, file embedding, and custom emojis.
Stride is available in a free version and a standard version which costs 3 per user per month. Atlassian also offers a 30-day free trial.
File management is one of Huddle’s main strengths, a tool with which users can check approvals for a document, share files, collaborate, and manage work projects. Huddle is also appreciated for its interoperability, thanks to integrating software such as Outlook and others. The particular attention on security is an advantage not to be underestimated.
Huddle’s prices aren’t among the lowest, but it must be admitted that the subscription plans include a lot of features. Prices start at 18 euros per month for the Essential Plan, including secure file sharing, collaboration tools, and project management for small teams.
The most complete and expensive options are the Plus and Premier, offering extra security features, customizations, and administrative controls. Finally, there is a particular version explicitly aimed at the public and government sectors.
One of the first solutions for the enterprise collaboration market was Chatter, which Salesforce even launched in 2010. This mobile solution organizes discussions around user groups, where files, videos, and images can be shared. An invitation is required to join a group.
Chatter supports integration with custom and third-party apps. It offers advice on people, files, and information to follow based on the individual user’s activity to create personalized feeds.
Chatter is a free service for already a Salesforce user, but it’s also available to anyone for $ 15 a month per single user. The price includes:
- The Salesforce content library.
- Some Salesforce CRM features.
- Read-only access to accounts and contacts.
- The Firce.com platform.