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Collaboration can mean the difference between success or failure in an organization. In fact, one survey found that 86 percent of people attribute workplace failures to lack of collaboration.
In today's era of distributed teams and remote workers, technology plays an essential role in collaboration; it can shake up the status quo in a good way. For instance, tools employing artificial intelligence remove the drudgery and add predictive suggestions, making collaboration faster and easier. And today there are new types of collaboration tools which weren't around a few years ago.
Here are five collaboration tools that will disrupt your business in the best way possible.
Video Conferencing Tools
Not that long ago, video conferencing was hard to set up and thus used infrequently. Fast forward to today, and it's becoming a routine way of collaborating. Some small businesses and departments use it daily, because the cost of the apps has come down, bandwidth and network speed has increased making connectivity more reliable, and the ease of use has improved.
The best part is, today's video conferencing tools are nearly device agnostic. You can now participate in a conference on your smartphone, tablet, computer, or television. Popular tools include WebEx and Zoom which are full featured solutions for businesses of all sizes. GoToMeeting, Join.me, and Skype for Business are alternatives. And if you want to disrupt things even further, share your video meeting with a group on Facebook Live -- apps like Zoom let you broadcast instantly to your Facebook Page.
Voice Collaboration Tools
There are multiple times throughout the day when you just need a fast answer from someone. But what if you're on another floor or in another town?
Sure, you can pick up your landline or smartphone, or send an email, but then you may get voicemail or have to wait hours for a reply. Today's enterprising entrepreneurs instead turn to cloud voice messaging applications. These applications can remain open and persistent on your desktop while you work. They typically show whether the person you want to reach is available, and they offer both instant text messaging and voice calling.
Add in the ability to share screens and send files, and they're easier to use than email or phone calls when you need fast answers throughout the day. Nextiva has such an application for fast voice collaboration, but you can also take a look at Skype and Google Hangouts. Voice collaboration tools like these make your company nimbler and faster--minimizing countless small delays each day.
Project Collaboration Tools
The earliest project management tools were essentially glorified calendars and spreadsheets, mainly used to track deadlines and responsibilities. Today's project management tools still help manage deadlines and responsibilities, but do much more by integrating sophisticated collaboration features, including shared file storage, places for team members to leave comments and ask questions, as well as instant messaging, screen sharing and conferencing--all in one virtual workspace.
These improved tools can bring team members together no matter how spread out in the real world, so everyone knows what everyone else is doing with scheduling, communications, file management and coordination features in a single dashboard. Slack revolutionized this space by taking the friction out of project workflows, through collaboration features. Trello and Basecamp also place heavy emphasis on collaboration.
Visual Design Collaboration Tools
Are you still going through the time-consuming process of back and forth calling, traveling and lugging around blueprints and sketchbooks, or individually emailing mockups? Whether you are a developer designing a website or an app, or a photographer, architect, landscaper or interior designer, visual design collaboration tools have the power to transform how you work with clients.
One of the challenges creative professionals face is finding common ground with their clients and other team members during the iterative design process. Effortless collaboration and the ability to easily obtain feedback on visual work product is key. GoVisually, InVision, Mural, Concept Board, and Prevue are examples of today's visual design collaboration tools.
Today's mobile collaboration solutions are able to exploit features on smartphones and tablets so you can collaborate from almost anywhere.
You can push email, contacts, calendar, and tasks with continuous sync across devices while monitoring projects and assigning and sharing tasks on the spot. Avaya Mobile Collaboration and IBM Mobile Collaboration Services offer robust solutions, but you can also try 8X8, Asana and Huddle for more affordable options.
Finally, remember there are many collaboration solutions in the marketplace. Do some research into what's available and you might just change the way you and your team work with others--for the better.