BACKGROUND IMAGE: iSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
Cloud collaboration is a type of enterprise collaboration that allows employees to work together on documents and other data types, which are stored off-premises and outside of the company firewall. Employees use a cloud-based collaboration platform to share, edit and work together on projects. Cloud collaboration enables two or more people to work on a project at once.
A cloud collaboration project begins when one user creates the file or document and then gives access to certain individuals; for example, the project creator may share a link to the project that allows others to view and edit it. Users can make changes to the document at any time, including when employees are viewing and working simultaneously. All changes are saved and synced so every user sees the same version of the project.
Cloud collaboration has become more sophisticated as vendors try to attract customers. It is common for a collaboration tool to include a way for project participants to see who else is viewing the document and to communicate with each other while working, such as through comments or a chat function. Tools also often allow users to set up email alerts for when a file is changed. These and other functions help increase worker efficiency and productivity.
Employee's motivations for using cloud collaboration tools vary, but the impetus is often that workers find the cloud tool to be better in some way than an old tool. Employees may think the cloud collaboration tool is faster, looks nicer, is easier to use and more.
Desire for a better collaboration tool can lead employees to choose and use a tool without prior approval of IT, a practice known as shadow IT. IT departments should be on the lookout for this, but they should also be open to the positive impact a cloud collaboration tool can have on group communication and teamwork.