Cloud collaboration enables businesses and individuals to upload and share data, co-author computer files and amend documents and files from anywhere in the world. The Cloud has brought about a revolution in how businesses share and distribute information, as well as reducing the need for real-world data storage systems such as banks of expensive, unreliable hard drives.
International giants use Cloud collaboration, as do one-man operations working with clients all over the world – or just up the road. You can store music, images and documents, create open or locked portals that give nominated individuals direct access to data, or you can use it to collaborate with colleagues thousands of miles away. The Cloud has re-invented how people use the internet and how they communicate with each other, especially in the workplace.
It wasn’t always like that, though. When the Cloud first floated into our lives, it was greeted with mistrust, suspicion and in most cases, indifference. It was seen as a security nightmare, easily breached by hackers. A slew of high-profile Cloudbursts didn’t help, either, as celeb photos stored on the Cloud found their way into a very public domain.
The Cloud has responded though, today security protocols are among the toughest in the (virtual) world. Locked portals, where only a select number of people have access to a set amount of information, are providing more secure and reliable platforms. As a result, businesses have become more receptive to the idea of using the Cloud within their business model.
Why use the Cloud?
Conference calls systems may be great, but it doesn’t get that document amended or a file revised, edited and tweaked in real time, especially if your partner is on the other side of the planet and in a different time zone. The Cloud gets around all those problems by being accessible from anywhere in the world. Changes are saved and synced and two or more people can work on the same project at the same time.
If you have a team of remote employees or telecommuters then as long as they have access to a reasonably fast internet connection (and as fibre is rolled out that is becoming more likely), they can get that urgent presentation done from home and send it straight to the recipient’s computer via the Cloud.
Put simply, the Cloud is essential to modern businesses, especially those with international networks, high online profiles and those for whom information is their primary product. It improves productivity and can lead to a considerable jump in profits as a result. The Cloud is one business tool that offers the potential for a very high ROI.
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What tools help you collaborate on the Cloud?
There are plenty of tools out there to help you collaborate on the Cloud like Slack or Asana, but to make sure you’re not compromising your business it’s best to ask an expert to set them up for you and make sure all your users are working with the same toolbox. That’s particularly important when it comes to security.
Early collaboration toolboxes were quite simple, with a very limited range of features. Today, modern collaboration tools tend to be more document-orientated, and let you ‘tag’ documents to allow other collaborators to add notes, comments and amends. These appear in real-time, so there’s no waiting for an email – the open document is the platform that acts almost like an instant messaging system for comments.
Keep it simple
Cloud collaboration tools such as Calls9 can be as complicated or as simple as you want. A direct access portal with a simple editing suite should be enough for most users. However, the most effective Cloud collaboration tools have specific USPs you should look for:
- Real-time messaging and commenting features for faster response times
- Leverage presence indicators to denote when other users are accessing files (and their identities)
- The ability to set personal activity feeds and email alerts when a document is accessed/amended
- Access through the company Firewall (it’s best to consult with your IT department to ensure it doesn’t provide a ‘back-door’ hack point into your main system)
- Tools that comply with your company security policies
- Enables files to be fully audited if necessary