We’ve seen a remarkable rise in cloud usage over the past year. Cloud technology has grown so pervasive that those who don’t adopt it face a marked disadvantage in competitiveness. A recent survey shows that most enterprises adopt the cloud not primarily for cost-savings (though they do save a lot of money), but because of the productivity and collaboration it generates.
In fact, a Frost & Sullivan report shows that businesses that use cloud collaboration methods raise productivity by as much as 400%.
- Cloud collaboration goes beyond time zones – Employees can work together in real time wherever they can go online. They can be in transit, or at home, or in a hotel halfway across the world, or just in the next city. You no longer have to send emails with attached files and wait for a response. All workers can access the files they need from one location, creating a more streamlined process. Video and web conferencing also lets people attend meetings even when not in the same time zone.
- Cloud generates speed and efficiency – Arguably, the cloud’s greatest contribution is improving speed across all business processes, from purchasing to product support. Good collaboration can make the production cycle more efficient or speed up the sales cycle. When you cut down time between discovering a need and developing a solution for it, you reduce time to market and realise profits sooner.
- The Cloud improves business decision-making – Sharing knowledge is key to strategic decisions. Thanks to collaborative technologies such as voice, video and teleconferencing, it is easier and more efficient to meet and share information.
As such, management can communicate much faster with product support, development, and marketing for feedback and resolution. And with Big Data and the Internet of Things, it is much easier to gain insight on consumer behavior which can be used to improve their experience.
- Cloud collaboration fosters creativity and innovation – collaboration also fosters ideas and creativity. As more co-workers interact with each other, they gain insight from each other’s experiences and benefit through synergy and better morale.
For example, product support can get ideas on how applications work through developers. Production can gain insight on how to make a product more attractive from marketing. By interacting with all departments, human resources can get a better idea of what type of training and skill-building employees need.
Given these benefits, here are some practical ways you can use the cloud to foster collaboration.
1. Telepresence and Video conferencing
As mentioned, the cloud lets you engage co-workers in a meeting even if you happen to be in a remote location. By replicating a face-to-face meeting, you don’t have to spend time or money for everyone to be physically present in a single room. Take your pick from a list of videoconferencing tools.
2. Flexible Work Platforms
A work platform lets you work on a hosted virtual desktop. This carries several immediate benefits: no need to upgrade or replace your desktops, easier and more affordable device management, and you can choose to work on a mobile device if you prefer.
Amazon WorkSpaces is a fine example of a hosted virtual desktop service with a pay-as-you go system. You can deploy new applications to all Amazon desktops as needed, saving you both time and money.
3. Integrated Development Environments
An integrated development environment (IDE) lets you use online development tools to write code for cloud applications. Examples are Microsoft Visual Studio linked with Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Toolkit for Eclipse. Another great feature of IDEs is that you can share your workspace with coworkers to help improve the development process.
4. Cloud Reporting
Cloud file systems and reporting tools allow you to track everything that happens in your environment. Great for making sure that your team is on track, but another overlooked benefit is that this system helps with audits and report generation. AWS CloudTrail is an excellent example of such a tool.
5. Centralised Data
By storing your data in a single cloud repository, it is easier for your team to access and collaborate on mission-critical files. A cloud database also translates to fewer onsite servers and no time on maintenance.
Examples include Amazon S3 for regularly accessed files and Amazon Glacier for archived data. Amazon WorkDocs is also a useful enterprise storage tool that features administrative control and feedback features.
6. Work Management Platforms
These platforms primarily focus on work assignment and monitoring, but can also serve as a hub for social engagement, sharing documents, and more. Scalr, Asana, CloudMGR and Enstratius are excellent examples.
7. Customer Collaboration
The cloud lets you collaborate with your clients as well. For instance, you can use cloud tools to monitor what people say about your brand on social media. In the case of the Internet of Things, you can also track user behavior and other pertinent data as well. All of these contribute to your business agility, letting you respond that much quicker to trends in the market.
There isn’t one single tool that can answer all your requirements. It’s important to first determine your needs as an organisation before choosing a solution, as Dole Food explains in their video below.
How will your enterprise use the cloud to improve productivity or collaboration? Get ideas from our cloud experts here at PolarSeven.