Over 94 percent of enterprises already use at least one cloud service and 83 percent of workloads will be on the cloud by the end of 2020. Organizations are spending close to 30 percent of their total allocated IT budget on cloud computing
Moving to the cloud is no longer a choice for organizations, it has become a necessity. Cloud collaboration allows teams to work together in real-time even when they are located in different cities. It provides an accessible, affordable, and scalable toolset for employees to interact, communicate, and collaborate with each other. For managers, cloud collaboration tools provide a great way to always know what is happening within the team. While there are many benefits to cloud collaboration, it’s only possible to leverage its power when you have the right tools by your side.
What is cloud collaboration?
Cloud collaboration allows employees to work together and collaborate on documents and other file types which might be stored off-premises or outside the firewall of the company. Cloud collaboration happens when a user creates/uploads a file online and then shares access to other individuals. The idea is to enable employees to share, edit, and view documents in real-time.
All changes made are saved and synced to the cloud so all users always have access to the same, updated version of the document.
Benefits of cloud collaboration
1. Improved team collaboration
When documents are stored in a shared place online, it becomes easier to find and access them. Employees no longer have to constantly email their team members just for an updated version of a file.
Moreover, when team members have access to the correct file versions, it makes discussions smoother, ensures everyone is on the same page (quite literally), and remarkably improves team collaboration.
Sharing all the project details and files with the entire team also leads to improved employee engagement since all team members have an equal opportunity to offer their input.
2. Faster access to large files
Most email servers cannot handle documents that are bigger than 20-25 MB. To send large files to team members you would either have to share them offline through USBs and external hard disks or just upload the files on a cloud storage provider.
Sharing files offline isn’t just time-consuming, but it is also an impossible option for teams working remotely. Cloud storage and collaboration allows teams to quickly share large files with no delay or distribution dilemmas. Once you upload a file online, you can share the same shared link with all team members at once.
3. Support for remote employees
Cloud-based applications allow remote teams to collaborate and work together even when they are all located in different parts of the world. In fact, efficient cloud collaboration is one of the major factors behind the success of remote teams. Without dedicated cloud storage, remote employees would get stuck in an endless spiral of emails with no time to get their core work done.
4. Embracing the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend
Over 67 percent of employees already use their own devices at work and 69 percent of company decision-makers believe BYOD leads to great results in the workforce. Employees in BYOD-embracing companies work at least two extra hours.
Cloud collaboration helps support and facilitate Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies by allowing employees to log in from their personal devices to access all the work-related files and data without having to hardwire it to a separate network or VPN.
Top cloud collaboration features to look out for
1. Access files anytime through the internet
The cloud collaboration application should be accessible anytime through web browsers or mobile devices. It should also have offline support and allow you to modify, edit, and view files stored on the cloud even if the changes will only get uploaded and be accessible to everyone else when you connect back to the internet.
2. Real-time communication
The cloud collaboration tool that you choose should offer real-time communication features like instant messaging, message boards, team communication channels, and even comments. For instance, if you are collaborating on a project or a task, then you should be able to leave comments for your coworkers directly in the app, instead of having to email them separately.
3. Setting custom permission levels
You don’t always want to share company information in the same way. For instance, you might want to share important work guidelines and project briefs with view-only access so that no one can make any unwanted changes. The collaboration tool should allow you to set custom permission levels. You should be able to decide who can view, edit, and comment on the documents.
4. Version control
The cloud collaboration tool should sync any changes made to the documents in real-time and ensure users only get access to the most up-to-date version of the files. At the same time, it should offer access to all the previous versions and track changes in documents. You should be able to clearly see who made changes to which documents and at what time.
5. Centralized file storage
One of the main features that your cloud collaboration tool should have is the ability to build an online repository where you can save all the work-related data. It can serve as the enterprise storage solution for your organization allowing employees to find and access key files in a secure manner
The main challenges in implementing cloud collaboration
1. Too many applications
Companies on average use at least 16 SaaS apps to manage all their internal operations. With the majority of the workforce going remote in 2020 because of the ongoing pandemic, this number has only increased. Introducing another app for cloud collaboration will not only overwhelm employees but also create issues within teams.
You will have to clearly decide the purpose of the tool, especially if you are already using other applications with overlapping functionalities. Integrating it with the existing system and ensuring the data doesn’t get siloed will be another challenge.
2. Absence of an organization-wide collaboration strategy
No matter how great of a cloud collaboration tool you use within your company, it won’t do any good if collaboration is not a part of your core company values. Organizations should develop a collaboration strategy that encourages employees to collaborate and communicate with each other. It should also include the right practices to ask colleges for inputs, offer constructive feedback, and reach a common consensus.
Using a digital workplace for cloud collaboration
To effectively incorporate cloud collaboration in your organization, you need the right tool with all the required collaboration features and one that integrates easily with your existing applications and IT infrastructure.
Using a separate tool just for collaboration will only add to your already growing list of business applications and make things difficult. Instead, you can use a single digital workplace that can give you access to all the required features through one single platform, including project management, process management, cloud collaboration, and file storage. It’s a unified platform that helps manage, optimize, and track all your work in a collaborative and transparent manner.