Groupware and Online Collaboration: Collaboration Series #4

This article is the fourth of a series of articles exploring specific aspects of groupware. The brief informational articles in this series discuss some of the technologies associated with groupware, as well as some of the characteristics of groupware. Some of these characteristics may go hand in hand with business collaborative needs. Other characteristics go beyond what some groupware providers have to offer. The purpose of these articles is to equip the groupware user or investigator with helpful knowledge about the product in order to enable more effective use or to lead the investigator to the groupware service he or she is looking for. This fourth article explores the ability of groupware to facilitate online collaboration.

Online Collaboration

Online collaboration consists of sending emails back and forth to edit and review attached documents, like market reports, budgets, contracts, and press releases. Most businesses go through this process very regularly with departments, clients, investors, and strategic partners.

In today's fast-paced business world, businesses are constantly under deadlines, working tirelessly for their business and client needs. The challenge is in keeping up with all of the online collaboration going on. After all, online collaboration has become an ad hoc process, and document versions get saved in multiple email boxes and on multiple hard drives. When it comes time to merge document changes and create a final draft, many questions are left unanswered.

The market has recognized the need for groupware, or online collaboration software, to manage and track document changes. Using the right groupware will even enable businesses to manage ad hoc online collaboration, tracking all of the documents versions across multiple emails, hard drives, and servers. The who, what, when, where, and how are all answered, and businesses will have an organizational edge in the high-speed information age of business.

Online Collaboration Tools with Groupware

5,200,000 indexed pages are found under "groupware" in Google; 4,840,000 in Yahoo; and 955,263 in MSN Search. In order to find groupware for your business online collaboration needs, you need to be equipped with the knowledge of the tools your business needs in its groupware.

Digital Thread technology takes groupware to a whole new level and is the means of tracking document versions across emails, hard drives, and servers. Digital Thread literally threads the document versions together by tagging the metadata of an electronic document, so that no matter to whom it is sent or what changes are made, the data comes back to you. It creates digital signatures in your email, informing you whether you are opening the latest version of the document, and who saved it. As the process becomes more involved, and drafts have been sent back and forth between multiple reviewers multiple times, you'll be able to access a version history. Version history is compiled by Digital Thread technology and provides a visual display of the genealogy of the document, from first draft to last. This also makes it possible to merge the changes as the final draft is compiled.

Groupware that can manage online collaboration and go beyond a simple electronic draft filing system to work the way 21st century businesses work.

Joe Miller is an online advertiser and author of informational articles on business software. More information on Groupware or Online Collaboration is available at NextPage.com.

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