Labor has been a defining aspect of human life for millennia, and while it has changed form many times and in many ways, it can easily be argued that it has never looked the way it does today. For anyone laboring within the current constructs of the Internet and Digital Age, work and the workplaces within which that work occurs have been greatly transformed.
From a lack of physicality to a reliance on machines that bear little resemblance to the machines brought about by the Industrial Revolution, today’s technology-centered, post-PC era has ushered in a sea of change in regards to work and the effective workplace. With workers scattered across time zones and projects, there has never been as pressing a need to ensure effective collaboration for today’s businesses, and business software developers have a vital role to play. For any software developers looking to make a market impact on today’s multi-located and collaborative workplace, here are five essentials.
While today’s mobile worker may be more technologically savvy than your average octogenarian, she still isn’t likely to hold an advanced degree in Computer Science. Software that assists in and guides the collaborative workplace needs to be as easy-to-use as possible, which means the least tech-oriented person on a company’s payroll needs to be able to make use of it with relative ease.
When a steep learning curve accompanies your software, it won’t matter how well it works once it can be effectively wielded, because most businesses will abandon the effort and — your services — before that time. Look to leaders in the field like Cisco — you can get details on ScanSource’s website regarding their partnership programs — who understand what it takes for mobile workers to be able to collaborate now.
Work between people used to be accomplished in real time and space, or, when that wasn’t an option, via the telephone. These days, the list of ways in which workers need to be able to work together feels almost endless. Chat, email, social media, video conferencing, phone, text — the mobile worker needs to be able to move seamlessly between communication methods in order to maximize productivity regardless of device or location. For software to truly offer collaboration, it must offer this multitude of ways of working and working together.
3. Real-Time Collaboration
Another essential feature of collaborative business software is that it allow for real-time collaboration between workers in different locations. Mimicking the work of people in the same room together, real-time collaboration allows multiple workers to access the same files at the same time so that as one of them makes an edit, suggestion, or addition, the others can see it instantly, and, they can also talk about it, chat about it, and contribute their own ideas and efforts. Some of the communication needs that accompany real-time collaboration include: group chat, IM, other presence awareness, application and file sharing, co-browsing, whiteboard collaboration, and more. For software to truly assist the collaborative workspace, these communication needs must be addressed and met.
4. Dynamic File Sharing
Dynamic file sharing is another essential feature of today’s mobile, multi-located, and collaborative workspaces, since without it, real-time collaboration would amount to little more than an elaborate hangout across time zones. Especially because workers are rarely engaging across a single file or file type, the best collaborative business software allows for dynamic file sharing across multiple projects with multiple files and file types.
In addition to all team members having access to the files — anywhere, anytime, and across multiple devices — software developers must also be able to ensure that the security employed is uncompromising — no small feat considering the number of people, distances, locations, devices, numerous IP addresses, etc. that get utilized in a truly collaborative, online, and dynamic file sharing environment.
Lastly, collaboration software should seamlessly integrate with software and apps companies are already using. Employees and contractors will more readily use a collaborative tool if it doesn’t require them to forego the programs they already like, know well, and rely upon. Software developers need to ensure their tools can make room for the tools already in existence on the devices being used by their target market’s employees.
As work becomes more and more decentralized, software and online collaboration will become more and more commonplace. For software developers who want to play a part in the ongoing revolution of work, these five qualities are essential.