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New applications and services bring numerous innovations to enterprise collaboration
Following up on my exploration of recent collaboration trends, I thought it would be useful to highlight some of the more representative newer entries in terms of the latest in collaborative tools and technologies. It's often hard to keep track of the latest offerings unless they are of the highest profile, so this list is intended to capture the spirit of where we are today in general with collaborative applications.
While most people initially think of the big names when it comes to enterprise collaboration tools, the focus on only the leaders obscures the wealth of additional options that business have these days. In fact, collaboration remains one of the most interesting and innovative spaces in the Internet startup industry. Why is this important? Bringing effective new collaborative technologies into your business can realize significant benefits. Recent studies have shown that adding the right social or mobile features, for example, can double the level of employee engagement, the low level of which is a major ongoing issue in many organizations today.
In the end, considering new collaboration tools that not everyone is yet using can bring differentation from competitors, drive business performance, create a better workplace more likely to retain employees, and help design the future of work in your organization, especially as the workforce is the single biggest investment that most companies make.
The shift to consumer-style collaboration
We've also seen a distinct consumerization of enterprise applications in general, so while a few of the solutions highlighted here are designed for large enterprises, there is a distinct inclination for vendors today to provide lighter weight, very easy to use tools that may not have the full set of enterprise capabilities. This also means they're increasingly sold directly to end-users, meaning you might to run into these tools at work, even if they're not an official selection of the IT department.
So while each of the collaboration applications listed here can be used for business, some of them are less aimed at the traditional enterprise-wide collaboration space, which is already filled with many large mature offerings. Instead, many new entrants are aimed more at workers who crave simple, enjoyable, yet innovative tools to get their daily team work done.
Finally, we can see some commonalities in the latest offerings: They tend to be cloud-based, have better support for mobile and social, are integrated into the digital world (often much) better, and are typically based on subscription models. While files and documents remain the center of so much enterprise collaboration, many tools enable team conversation and discussion -- often around the aforementioned artifacts -- much more so than the legacy collaboration tools tend to. We're also seeing collaborative project management, crowdsourcing/virtual workforce, business function-focus, and collaboration suites come into the fore as well.
There are 20 tools listed here in total, mostly picked to underscore a particular approach to digital collaboration, but they are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what's available these days. I also provide a brief descrption calling out the unique aspects of each offering.
Contemporary Enterprise Collaboration Tools: Feedbag.io
Easily the lightest weight collaboration tool in this list, Feedbag.io doesn't even require you to log in to get started. This spartan browser-based app allows you to create 'bags' of shared artifacts, add visual comments to them, and enables you to invite others in to view and comment on your collaborative space as well.