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The New Cloud Driver: Collaboration

As the cloud market matures, the competitive advantages the technology provides are declining. However, not being in the cloud is a big disadvantage.

The benefits of cloud computing are simply flattening out because the business world isn’t debating them anymore. Cloud has become an accepted business solution, and this means that organizations will have to use it in increasingly innovative ways in order to achieve that competitive advantage. Use of the cloud has matured and professionalized, becoming an integral part of IT operations today.

A report by Harvard Business Review found that 84% have increased their cloud use in the past year, and 39% say this increase was significant. This is definitely parallel to the growth in the cloud market we’ve seen in recent years.

So what’s the primary benefit of cloud computing then? You may throw out cost efficiency, agility, or mobility, which have long been major drivers of cloud adoption. But according to HBR, there’s something new in the mix. 72% of respondents cited collaboration as the top benefit – just one percent ahead of agility! And “collaboration” refers to both internal employee collaboration and collaboration with outside parties.

So what does collaboration in the cloud look like?

Well, let’s take a look. To start, we’ll talk about collaboration tools. In the cloud, it’s quick and simple for users to share information and work cooperatively. Cloud computing makes it easier for all departments to work more closely together, without painstakingly attempting to set up meetings around differing schedules. Today, there are dozens of cloud collaboration programs that allow people to work together on documents or other data types simultaneously, from word processing to presentation software to file sharing. The magic here is that people can share and edit files at the exact same time. And many of these tools include additional communication capabilities, like chat and viewing/editing settings. This increases efficiency and productivity, and leads to anywhere, anytime access. Cloud collaboration solutions promote on-the-go productivity, allowing an employee from one side of the globe to successfully work on a project with an employee on the other side of the globe from any connected device.

But cloud computing is also adding to collaboration in a different way. A huge area where we can see enhanced collaboration is actually in the efforts to implement the cloud in the first place. This process has begun to bring the IT department and the rest of the organization together. In the early phases of cloud computing, a business often went over the heads of the IT department, which meant it didn’t consider how the new solution would connect with existing systems or business processes. Now, collaboration in this area is essential and IT must be part of the implementation, as the transition may force them to rethink certain business processes.

In order for cloud implementations to go smoothly, IT has needed to establish relationships with other members of their business. The cloud is building relationships within organizations and causing ongoing conversations that will continuously improve a business. Employees should feel comfortable talking to IT about changes without feeling like they’re bogging the team down – and this is happening as the cloud matures. Frequent conversations and collaboration ensure that business needs are met.

Collaboration in business used to be about face-to-face communication, involving brainstorming, notepads, extensive meetings and a single-office environment. Today, it’s all about creating similar engagement and teamwork, but without the limitation of a single location or physical closeness. This step forward is possible and popular thanks to cloud collaboration tools.

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