This content is part of the Essential Guide: Understanding real-time collaboration tools for business

What collaboration features are essential for my organization?

When evaluating team collaboration apps, organizations must determine which features are required for their users. Expert Jon Arnold offers advice on evaluating collaboration features.

The term collaboration is fluid. There's no single way to collaborate -- and we all do it differently.

Compounding this variability, today's technology keeps evolving, as new capabilities enrich and redefine the collaboration experience. As a result, many employees don't know what's expected when collaborating, especially since few companies have developed guidelines for collaboration features.

Two types of collaboration features should be considered when looking at team collaboration apps. The first set of collaboration features is the communication tools employees need to interact as a team. These core tools include instant messaging, voice, conferencing and presence. Increasingly, video is also becoming a requirement. Interestingly, email is required for some teams, but not for others.

When looking at communications tools, consider if they're real time or near-real time. Ideally, all communication applications should be real-time collaboration. But considering how employees are embracing text-based applications, near-real-time communication is good enough for many teams.

The second set of collaboration features to consider as table stakes involves workflows. For collaboration to be effective, applications and capabilities must facilitate a seamless flow of tasks to get work done. Prime examples include Outlook integration, mobile integration, document sharing and search.

While workflows are collaboration necessities in their own right, integrating workflows with communication applications is what really drives great results. This synergy is the essence of unified communications (UC).

While communications has its own value, it adds new value by making workflows more effective. This combination makes UC a powerful initiative; and to achieve this, you have to consider both elements when identifying collaboration features.

Do you have a question for Jon Arnold or any other experts? Ask your enterprise-specific questions today! (All questions are treated anonymously.)

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