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Enterprise collaboration for corporates: four core use cases

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Secure file sharing, external collaboration, project management and enterprise social networking.

These are four key areas that all organisations have an issue with when it comes to technology and providing solutions to staff and customers.

So what are the problems, and how can enterprise collaboration software help to solve them?

Secure file sharing

Secure file sharing is also referred to as the corporate Dropbox problem. It’s about more than getting files from A to B; it’s about giving users the same facilities that people are used to using in their personal lives.

Most people shares files in one form or another, both professionally and personally, thanks to the rise of consumer tools like Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud. They’re accessible and easy to use, and people want to use them at work because they solve problems where solutions are not provided by IT. The trouble is, these tools are not secure and not enterprise grade.

CIOs don’t like consumer file sharing tools because they can’t control them. Consumer-grade tools are not sanctioned, not audited, and there’s no visibility of what is being shared and by whom. They don’t meet organisational security compliance policies and are perceived centrally as a risk. As a result, they are often blocked at the company firewall.

The trouble is, people want these tools to get their work done. They like the simplicity and functionality of consumer tools.

Enterprises need a better solution to this problem. In-house IT needs to be able to provide these solutions to their staff so they can share files securely externally. They need enterprise grade security; they need the ability to control where company data is going; and they need the ability to audit who is sharing what and when.

IT needs secure private cloud designed specifically for enterprise clients. Data sovereignty should be a consideration, so they know where their data is being hosted. Most consumer tools are hosted in the US, which can be an issue for non-US companies. Find out why by reading this blog post.

Companies need to take into account the cloud vendor’s information security policy. Is the vendor ISO 270001 certified? Are they audited independently? IT needs to know that the vendor has good information security policies and procedures in place to keep their clients’  data safe.

External collaboration

Working with external parties can be problematic, and extends beyond simply sharing files with people outside the organisation. The trouble lies in how to work with customers, consultants, partners, anyone who don’t have access to internal systems, such as the intranet or collaboration platform.

Most organisations will have an internal collaboration platform of some sort, whether that’s SharePoint or something else, but opening it up to external users can be extremely difficult. Without a simple solution, people drop back to using email or other systems that are not effective or secure.

Organisations need a way of unifying work and collaborating with colleagues internally and collaborators externally.

A unified collaboration solution can give people the ability to work in one place, blurring the lines between internal “intranet” work and external “extranet” work. Staff internally can work just as easily with customers as they could with colleagues. They don’t need to context-switch between an intranet and an extranet, which improves efficiency and makes them more productive.

Project management

There is an increasing trend towards using new methods to manage projects more efficiently, beyond simply emailing around document attachments, to the sort of tools seen in the consumer world with the benefits of being enterprise-grade and integrated into the rest of the system.

Project management encompasses many different types of content: files, most projects have document repositories; tasks, visibility over who needs to do what when; events, for project milestones and deadlines; blogs, for project updates and reports; and wikis, for document collaboration.

Centralising all of this in one place means that everyone in the team has access to this repository of information. There is clear visibility about where they’re at with the project, and team members are connected and able to communicate with one another in a frictionless way.

Cloud collaboration platforms also enable people to work from anywhere on any device, helping them to keep up with the status of the project from their smartphone or tablet from anywhere, not just the office but from home, clients’ offices, or on the move.

Enterprise social networking

Enterprise social networking enables colleagues to share knowledge and best practices, break down organisational or hierarchical boundaries, work out in the open, and gain a peripheral vision of what’s going on around the organisation.

Enterprise social networks are about reducing inbox overload, moving communication away from email, and preventing knowledge or information from getting trapped in silos (such as inboxes, shared drives) where it’s hard to discover them in the future, and hard for new people to quickly get up to speed by discovering all the information in the organisation.

Working social is about emphasising people and connections. Instead of pivoting around data, files or information, social businesses pivot around people. It means making sure everything that is created is connected to a person, and people can see and connect with each other freely and easily.

When organisations are using an inherently social system to manage projects, share files, external collaboration, what they’re doing at the same time is inherently sharing that knowledge and making sure that it’s being captured and shared across the organisation.

I recently held a webinar about The four core use cases of a collaboration platform for corporates, showing exactly how HighQ’s collaboration platform tackles each of these use cases. Watch it for free online here.
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