|By Harry Trott||
|January 3, 2016 04:45 AM EST||
Collaboration is a big focus area among technology start-ups. The past five years have seen a range of new products in this area that have completely transformed the way businesses work. Thanks to the likes of Trello and Slack, team members do not even have to live in the same city or even country any longer. Start-ups like Zapier operate with a completely remote workforce thanks to these telecommuting tools.
While these tools help with keeping team members updated on the status of various tasks and work well as project management tools, they do not actually help with decision making and strategy. This requires face-to-face meetings that video conferencing tools like ClickMeeting help with. Through such tools, various stakeholders in a project can get together on a virtual platform and deliberate on various issues in real-time. This makes physical meetings unnecessary while helping businesses reach consensus faster.
The next step in the evolution of cloud based collaboration is a marriage between these two vital cogs of business collaboration. Tools that help with project management and collaboration should also enable stakeholders to make decisions in real-time. We are already seeing signs of this evolution. Cisco recently announced a new update to their Spark collaboration tool that would enable phones and video conferencing systems to plug into their cloud collaboration tool and trigger voice calls or video conferences with just a click of a button. The company believes that such innovations would help Spark catapult its popularity ahead of popular rivals like Slack.
But it's not innovation just for the sake of innovating. Companies like Google that have thousands of employees operating from dozens of cities across the world already use in-house video conferencing systems to enable their employees engage and collaborate better on projects from multiple locations. Without these tools, your colleagues from another country would be reduced to a username on your project management application.
There are already a couple of products that have taken off from the Google collaboration experiment to fuel the advancement in cloud collaboration. Google's Chromebox for Meetings enables project stakeholders to get in a huddle over a plethora of different devices - right from enterprise-level conferencing systems to a web browser or smartphone. A startup called HighFive launched by ex-Googler Shan Sinha aims to take this innovation to the masses - through their product, Sinha aims to seamlessly translate conferencing from flat panel displays to smartphones or web browser to enable conferencing on the move.
Where are we headed from here? The next innovation should bring together these real-time collaboration tools with non-real-time project management tools as provided by the likes of Slack. A video or voice call update from a collaborator may be synchronized on the fly with text updates from the rest of the team. With advances in NLP (Natural Language Processing) and automation, cloud collaboration can go even further - collaborators on the move can key in their updates over a voice call that can be transcribed as a text update on the collaboration system for a stakeholder from another timezone to check during their business hours. An intelligent collaboration system can take decisions on project directions based on verbal inputs from various stakeholders. Such innovations would not only make collaboration efficient, but also extremely smart.
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