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The Pros and Cons of Real Time Cloud Collaboration

When it comes to making your decision on whether or not to implement cloud computing, there are many factors to consider.

Collaboration is one of them. The way your organization collaborates infuses every aspect of your business. Teamwork, productivity, creativity, and decision-making all hinge on the collaborative culture, processes, and software you employ.

The cloud offers new and intriguing ways to collaborate in real time. In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of these collaborations in the cloud to help you make your decision.

Pros of Real-Time Cloud Collaboration

Here are some of the ways that cloud collaboration can make your organization better.

  • Reduce employee downtimes
    Cloud systems allow users to access and contribute anytime, anywhere. This can drastically reduce the amount of time spent waiting for information and decisions. Now your subject matter experts and decision-makers can “weigh in” whether they’re offsite, on the road, and sometimes even on vacation.
  • Enable flexibility in work schedules
    Cloud collaboration is more conducive to flexible work scheduling than traditional methods. The always-available nature of the cloud means more and better opportunities to share globally across time zones as well as locally over a variety of availabilities and shifts.
  • Better cost efficiency
    Cloud computing offers advantages in the form of fewer infrastructure needs and maintenance costs. It can also simplify and minimize the cost of upgrades and implementations. On the collaboration front, the cloud helps reduce overhead with more remote workforce, work-at-home, and part-time employee solutions.
  • Easier to invite a larger number of people to contribute
    Cloud solutions make it easy to invite new people into a discussion, whether they’re inside or outside of your organization. This allows you to engage with a more diverse audience, generate more opinions and ideas, and move forward faster by getting team members on board and providing quicker access.
  • Archival of all project resources, communications, and materials
    A cloud collaboration solution not only captures all those internal documents, it tracks all the external interactions, too. It can also provide version control for all your relevant documents – even when shared between multiple companies and organizations.
  • Simple scaling
    Whether you’re collaborating on a multi-year enterprise software project or a three-person business analysis report, cloud software lets you scale as big or as small as you need to get. Events such as ramping up or extending beyond your organization are easily accomplished through your provider – often far more cheaply than traditional software.
  • Real-time compatibility with other cloud-based tools
    Timing is important, especially when trying to connect and communicate with larger teams. A cloud-based collaboration solution can take advantage of other real-time solutions your workspace users might employ – such as calendaring, task lists, and project management tools.
  • Cloud-level security features
    By its very nature, collaboration can be a risky endeavor. Paper documents, shared desktops, phone conversations – even in-person meetings – can all present security risks. But with cloud collaboration, you can rely on robust security features for all your digital properties. That’s because the big cloud platform providers respond far more quickly to security updates and improvements than an individual company normally could.
  • Integration with Google Apps (G Suite)
    Google Apps provide a ready-made series of collaboration tools already in use by many companies, employees, partners, and customers. Docs, Hangouts, Contacts, Calendar, and Translate are all examples of cloud-based apps designed for communication and sharing. With a cloud-based collaboration system, you make it easier for your ecosystem's members to interact because so many of them are already familiar with those apps.
  • Integration with mobile apps
    According to App Annie, the mobile app economy will double by 2020. The good news is that this growth is no longer mainly in games, but comes from a wide variety of business sectors. As new and innovative productivity tools are created, you can easily hook them into your workspaces. And if your company develops or uses its own mobile apps, you can tie your workspaces directly into them, too.

Cons of Real-Time Cloud Collaboration

While there are many benefits of cloud collaboration, there are some potential disadvantages you should also be aware of.

  • Less personal contact
    Since a significant portion of communication is non-verbal, conducting more interactions online can cause a natural decline in the quality of those communications. It often takes longer to convey the same idea digitally than it would in person… and the risk of miscommunication is higher.
  • Creates challenges in your work/life balance
    Achieving an acceptable work/life balance is challenging enough these days, but cloud-based collaboration can make it extra tricky. Used correctly, these real-time systems provide greater accessibility because they’re available when you are. Used incorrectly, however, they can create the expectation that you (or your employees) are always accessible instead. Setting and respecting access boundaries becomes very important to the morale of your team.
  • Diffusion from the masses
    Because it’s so easy to invite and involve new members (even temporary ones) in a cloud-based collaboration system, you may encounter some diffusion of focus. It’s true that as more people become involved, more ideas can be generated – but it also makes it harder to achieve consensus. If not properly managed, this can bog down the entire decision-making process. Setting clear expectations around who has input and who has the responsibility for decision-making is crucial.
  • Tool fascination and sprawl
    Cloud-based systems are much easier to connect and integrate than traditional software. There could be a temptation to include more features and tools than are actually necessary for your collaboration project. Playing with these extraneous features wastes time. Similarly, too much emphasis on collaboration software can lead to social rather than productive interactions.
  • Workspace administration
    Operating an online workspace requires dedicated management. Just like team meetings require good facilitating to be productive, an online workspace needs to be properly administered to enable, encourage, and monitor contributions. Real-time cloud-based systems can require more of this administrative attention, especially when operating through multiple shifts or time zones.
  • Security risks
    While cloud-based collaboration software can benefit from electronic security measures provided by their platforms, they potentially pose more mundane security risk, as well. Because it’s so easy to invite new members into your collaborations, there can be a tendency to do so ad hoc, without proper controls or vetting.

The Role of Change Management

So how can you maximize the “pros” and minimize the “cons” of real-time cloud collaboration?

The best way is to implement a robust Change Management program.

According to Google, adopting a best-in-class Change Management program can improve the ROI of a cloud-based G Suite implementation by as much as 135%.

At Cloudbakers, we specialize in Change Management programs for your transition to the cloud. So if you’re ready to take advantage of real-time cloud collaborations, Cloudbakers is ready to help your transition be as smooth and efficient as possible. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

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Originally published on September 12, 2017

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