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Team collaboration apps can help streamline communications

Organizations of all sizes and verticals can take advantage of cloud collaboration tools. The use cases provided here highlight the functionality these apps offer.

Many organizations have embraced team collaboration apps as a way to streamline communication and increase collaboration among employees, customers and partners. Modern cloud collaboration tools can provide numerous benefits, including improved productivity and better tracking of projects. These tools offer several features ranging from group messaging to content sharing to one-on-one meetings.

Here, we've highlighted several business situations that demonstrate how organizations can take advantage of team collaboration apps. These use cases can help you build a business case for company management to buy a cloud collaboration tool.

Size doesn't matter

Other than standard voice and voicemail services, advanced communications used to be only for large enterprise customers. The cost to purchase, implement and manage complex on-premises unified communications (UC) platforms created a barrier to entry.

Yet, cloud computing leveled the playing field. Now, even the smallest business can use the same team collaboration apps that large companies use. A use case for this would be a small startup that uses the same cloud collaboration tools its big customers have in place. Additionally, in some cases, smaller organizations have fueled adoption of team collaboration tools.

Most enterprise-class messaging platforms provide seamless messaging between organizations. That means the smaller startup can use the same cloud messaging services to communicate with its larger customers in a coherent manner. This can go a long way in strengthening relationships and communication channels between companies that vary greatly in size.

Editor's note

While researching team collaboration products extensively, TechTarget editors focused on 10 leading cloud-based services that have strong messaging components. Our research included data from TechTarget surveys and reports from respected research firms, including Gartner.

Cloud collaboration apps offer project-centric benefits

Most organizations can use modern, cloud-based team collaboration tools. But certain situations accentuate the benefits of these team collaboration apps when compared to traditional communications methods.

For example, compare cloud messaging features with traditional email in the case of a business unit working on a long-term project with multiple team members who need to share information efficiently.

With a modern, collaborative, messaging-centric platform, project team members can be added or removed from a chat group at any time. Members who are added to the group can access previous messages, links or content that was shared prior to them joining. This ensures everyone has access to project content no matter who they are or when they joined the group. Additionally, many platforms have contextual search capabilities that help users find content in the group chat history.

Now, contrast modern cloud messaging services with traditional email that's used to communicate project information. Email threads can become muddled when adding a new recipient to a conversation. Additionally, when searching for specific information, users are forced to search through mountains of duplicate and sometimes missing content. Attachments may not be included in previously sent emails, as well. Ultimately, these shortcomings lead to reattaching files, which can become confusing.

Lastly, a group email can be thrown off course if a team member clicks Reply, as opposed to Reply All. Added up, these little things make a big difference when trying to communicate project information with multiple team members.

Team collaboration apps meet compliance requirements

In the past, some business verticals -- such as healthcare, financial institutions and governments -- have been unable to adopt team collaboration tools because they didn't meet data regulatory compliance standards. Fortunately, many enterprise-class collaboration services are starting to cater to verticals that must adhere to special laws and specifications on how their data is handled.

Traditionally, team collaboration tools fell short in providing end-to-end message encryption, data visibility and reporting, as well as the ability to manage their own data encryption keys using a privately managed, on-premises server. Now, several cloud collaboration tools offer these advanced compliance features to allow virtually any business vertical to safely use their platforms.

Cloud helps geographically dispersed workforces communicate

Companies of all sizes can justify the purchase of team collaboration apps in several ways.

In many organizations, the number of remote employees has skyrocketed over the past few decades. Most enterprises have found cloud messaging services to be effective for widely separated teams that span multiple time zones. The cloud architecture and mobile-focused nature of modern group messaging apps make them a good fit for global companies or where employees are consistently off site.

For example, imagine a software company that operates a 24/7 troubleshooting call center for its customers. Instead of having a single call center that's open all hours of the day, the company uses a follow-the-sun model, where multiple call centers dot the globe. In this case, in-flight trouble tickets move from one location to the next once a shift is complete.

Using a collaborative messaging platform, call center employees can communicate trouble-ticket information to the call center staff that is just starting their day. Information on open tickets can be shared among geographically dispersed teams, while also maintaining an auditable chain of ownership for reporting purposes.

Truly unified collaboration on a single platform

The ultimate goal of unified collaboration should be to use a single platform for all communication needs throughout an entire organization. Collaboration platforms can include a wide range of features, including messaging, voice, video conference and social networks. Your objective should be to find a product that integrates all the communications features your organization needs.

By unifying all end users under a single collaboration platform, organizations can reap two key benefits. For one, it lessens the effect shadow IT has in the collaboration space. Because many team collaboration apps offer freemium versions, many departments have used their own tools without IT input. This trend can lead to serious data loss prevention security issues. Without visibility into these services, sensitive information and intellectual property can be lost or stolen.

The other benefit is the fact communications tools are more effective when everyone is using the same platform. Unified collaboration breaks down department silos, so everyone companywide can exchange information. On the other hand, if each department uses its own collaboration tools, communication breakdowns and data security issues can form quickly. Ultimately, organizations should ensure a single team collaboration platform satisfies the largest number of user needs.

Companies of all sizes can justify the purchase of team collaboration tools in several ways. Enterprise-class platforms have fine-tuned options and features that can meet the requirements for a wide range of use cases. That said, some platforms will be a better fit than others.

Next Steps

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Collaboration apps are not one-size-fits-all

Dig Deeper on Collaboration Applications for Unified Communications