Technology is moving at such speeds that at times it seems out of control. How can we connect, share and collaborate on documents, on any device within government organizations and among citizens and corporations, without the difficulty of multiple software solutions and bludgeoning costs?
The current economic climate has created a unique set of challenges for organizations in all sectors. Decision-makers are under pressure to constrain spending, and that includes IT investment and expenditure. At the same time, organizations must continually deliver and develop services for citizens with ever greater expectations of engagement.
Take the experience of the Chamber of Commerce in two Ontario municipalities. Both needed a secure collaboration tool to allow Chamber staff to connect internally and with Chamber members outside the firewall. Both Chamber presidents noted the lack of tools and security to do this successfully; rather, each was reliant on e-mail, which could not meet their collaboration needs for both internal and external communication. Additionally, neither was in a position to employ a costly enterprise solution with all the burdens of deployment and implementation.
Both need an interface that allows users to automatically create interactive groups for document sharing. It has to be easily scalable for sharing with one or 1,001 users, simply by adding a document to a group and then inviting users to view it.
Social media tools must be an integral part of the interaction between internal and external customers. For example, a chat board, notes (private and shared) and a ratings system can help minimize restrictions on location and mobility. Notifications that a document has been shared through a messaging tab can also foster usage and implementation.
The collaboration interface should be in real-time so that colleagues can chat about documents without the confinements to location, file size and group numbers. With a chat tool, members can engage with one another while sharing documents simultaneously. The ability to display and edit notes in real-time also eliminates the need to download and print documents for meetings, or to carry while travelling. This is true collaborative interaction.
Equally important, IT managers must be able to easily administrate the interface and oversee day-to-day functions. Through simplicity, user accounts can be updated and deleted as required, language support can be modified per user, users can be promoted to other roles, and preconfigured reports can be created for downloading.
End users ultimately want simple access to the most recent versions of their files on any device of any type. They also want a solution that provides access to corporate content from any data store (on-premise or in a cloud). And they want security controls to lower risk and meet compliance mandates.
There are several considerations for an organization to take into account as it explores its options. How many different systems do your employees have to use to do their jobs? How much time does it take an employee to learn to use each system effectively? How easily can an employee find information, share information, or aggregate information from different sources?
The costs of IT development, deployment, implementation and training must be weighed against the return of improved employee productivity, greater workforce mobility, document and file sharing, collaboration tools, BYOD with support for any device, customer support, communication, and collaboration.
So when you look for a solution to connect, share and collaborate internally and with citizens externally, look for a suite of applications that enables you to collaborate and share documents through a design surface that can access any mobile or computing device. It should provide simple controls and components that can rapidly access your data.