In the previous post, we discussed the factors that should be considered when choosing a productivity suite such as Microsoft Office, Google for Work, Apple iWork, or an open-source tool such as Open Office by Apache. Most importantly, organizations need to prioritize the needs of the end-user and provide employees with the features and functionality they need to do their jobs more effectively.

However, productivity suite vendors are increasingly focused on not just individual productivity, but team productivity. In the past, the only real concern was file format compatibility. In other words, if one user shared a document with another user, would they be able to open, view and edit that document without any issues?

Today, the heavy emphasis on collaboration in the workplace is evident in the capabilities found in newer productivity suites. When organizations use these applications to improve the quality and speed of collaboration, they can accelerate the decision-making process, drive innovation, improve customer service and responsiveness, and create competitive advantages.

Microsoft SharePoint, Google for Work and Apple iWork Collaboration enable multiple users to coedit documents and view changes and comments as they happen. In fact, Apple just announced its real-time collaboration capabilities this month. All three productivity suites also allow calendars to be shared to help employees better manage their schedules and meet deadlines.

Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive and Apple iWork File Sharing enable users to securely store, access and share documents, using customized access controls. Previous versions of documents can be restored with a couple of clicks. Coediting capabilities, file sharing platforms and shared calendars eliminate the need to email back and forth in order to markup and review documents and plan meetings.

Video conferencing continues to emerge as a critical business tool that reduces the need for gathering people into the same room for face-to-face meetings. Office 365 now includes Skype for Business, which supports video chat, instant messaging and voice calling from virtually any device. Simply drag and drop up to 250 contacts into a meeting and broadcast to up to 10,000 participants. Users can coedit documents, share screens and perform other business functions during a Skype for Business video conference.

Similarly, Google Hangouts makes it possible for users to connect via HD video, voice or text with up to 25 people, while Hangouts On Air can broadcast a Hangout to unlimited viewers. The screen automatically focuses on the person who is currently speaking, and users can update documents and share links and screens during a video meeting. Video conference streams are then automatically saved to your YouTube channel.

Of course, every productivity suite still has its standard applications for email, word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. However, organizations that properly evaluate and leverage modern collaboration tools will see the greatest gains in productivity and efficiency. Contact SSD if you need help choosing and implementing a productivity suite and understanding how to integrate collaboration tools into your day-to-day business processes.