If there is one internet-based invention that has had a great impact on how many businesses all over the world, then it has to be the invention of online collaboration software. Simply put, this is the software through which people are able to collaborate, on various issues, through the Internet. Specific examples of programs here would range from the instant messaging programs, to the online publishing programs (blogging software), and onto document sharing programs; among others in that line.
So, how are businesses benefiting from online collaboration software?
Well, for starters, many businesses have used the collaborative software that runs over the Internet to trim down travel costs. For people getting into the business world today, this may sound hard to believe: but the truth of the matter is that just a few decades back, most of the things we are able to do online (like project co-ordination) were things that could have required business travel – with all the expenses and inconvenience it brings along.
Businesses have been able to cut down on communication costs through the online collaboration software. Before the advent of this software, businesses ended up spending large sums of money on communication (think phone bills and fax bills), doing things that they are now able to do more conveniently, and free of charge or at very nominal fees. In actual fact, most of these online collaboration tools are available at no cost, so that all a typical business has to do, to access them, is to pay for internet access – which is getting cheaper with every passing day. Even where some fees have to be paid (like web hosting fees for a collaborative blog), you would be looking at amounts in the range of tens of dollars: the sorts of money that any business can pay from its ‘petty cash’ budget.
Businesses have also used the collaborative software to streamline their operations towards greater effectiveness. We have to keep it in mind that there are some businesses engaged in projects that involve, literally, thousands of people. Project communication in such a project would be extremely difficult without tools such as the web publishing online intranet software that makes project blogs a possibility. Without these, communication would have to be on an individual project participant basis – leaving many participants without a proper overall picture of the project, and often leading to expensive blunders.
Online collaborative platforms have also made ways for productive co-operations, like those that exist between the various industries and the academia. Today, most researchers are able to (very conveniently) publish their research findings online, where they can be accessed by entrepreneurs keen on developing business plans around them. It is very easy to take something like this for granted, until you take into consideration the fact that without the collaborative software, the interested entrepreneurs would have had to go to the universities and research institutes, in search of relevant research. In this process, there would be hindrances to the free flow of information, and chances were high that research findings with very high business potential would end up going unnoticed, for the simple reason that there was no way to publish them where they could be easily accessed by entrepreneurs.