Discuss some of the major collaborative technologies. Provide an example of collaborative technology as it applies specifically to “virtual teams”.
Collaborative teamwork is vital for both the individual and business to be successful in today’s workplace. This aspect is supported greatly or made possible by the collaborative technologies. Here are some of the major collaborative technologies:
Instant messaging and texting is widely used by businesses around the world nowadays. It can be also observed being used extensively by companies in Nepal. Especially by those companies working on projects from different parts of the world. As this system provides a platform for people to send instant messages over a network with tools like Google Hangout, Skype, Asana to name few. Universities can provide a chat room for teachers, students, and other members to communicate and collaborate (Nardi, Whittaker & Bradner, 2000). With the ability to the participants who can communicate at the real-time and clarify any questions or confusions, it makes collaboration better. Also, with people able to refer back to the text anytime to recall what was discussed provides more power.
Shared workspace provides teams an ability to add documents, membership list, news, and announcement and collaborate to edit and update it (Steinfield, Jang & Pfaff, 1999). Often Serious, the previous organization was with makes use of this system with the use of Office365 tools and several others. Primarily, members of different units add document which needs to be processed. Member from the editorial team will make the required update to the document. After which the original posting person, checks if those are acceptable changes or if anything needs to be updated. The editor looks again, this goes on until it’s fully approved after which another independent editing takes a look than to verifies and accept the document to go public or pass it on as a proposal. Team calendar, discussion forum, a shared task can be part of the shared workspace as well which add value to what the team does in a collaborative environment.
Interactive Video is another collaborative tool one can use. This provides all the people involved in the interaction to look at the facial expressions and other nonverbal cues while communicating which couldn’t be done with just text-based or voice-based form of interactions. It can be done with the use of Skype, Viber to name some (Pauleen & Yoong, 2001).
Shared virtual workspace would be the best example for a virtual team to use as a collaborative technology. The workspace would include a mixture of the variety of things starting with the workspace itself where people can check who is doing what, what are the task that is remaining and such. Reporting and the team meetings using a form of video conference can be organized to keep everyone updated on how the project is going and also to clarify confusions. I’ve been involved in the similar working environment to connect all the different physical offices and developers spread around the world. And, it really helped keep track of things and do the needful, all enhancing the performance of the team while collaborating better.
Nardi, B., Whittaker, S., & Bradner, E. (2000). Interaction and outeraction. Proceedings Of The 2000 ACM Conference On Computer Supported Cooperative Work - CSCW '00 , 79-88.
Pauleen, D., & Yoong, P. (2001). Facilitating virtual team relationships via Internet and conventional communication channels. Internet Research , 11 (3), 190-202.
Steinfield, C., Jang, C., & Pfaff, B. (1999). Supporting virtual team collaboration. Proceedings Of The International ACM SIGGROUP Conference On Supporting Group Work - GROUP '99 .
Different IT and IS tools give us the ability to collaborate online. This is actually found in our devices like laptop, PCs, Mac, and smartphone by integrating different software platforms like messenger, Zoom video conferencing, Google sheet, Excel Sheet and another sharing platform. It gives the ability to locate and identify other devices as soon as it becomes available on a network. The basis those of collaboration is as soon as a user are online.
Blogs, Podcasts and Wikis are the common knowledge sharing and collaboration platform for all. In Blogs the journals entries are created by one person and other member are read this then able to comment. This is excellent collaboration tools for information sharing and feedback. Podcasts are similar to blogs but blogs have only included in the text but it has included both text and videos. Wikis are also great collaboration platform, it created by multiple users and have the ability to Crete and edit content. Other most popular platforms are conferencing (Batt, 2004). In voice conferencing the ability to share information in a common group or mass by using microphone. It is two way information sharing technique. First presenter shares his/her ideas and information and at the end, the audience also asks few questions on this topic and experts give the feedback. Similarly, in video conferencing you are to put a face to a name and voice may be useful for business discussion, teaching and facilitation and other research works. This gives you to the ability to see and interact at the real time and share their knowledge from personal talking. Next, another software virtual tools are Go to Meeting. By using this tools is we can easily make our business better. It also gives presentations and sales demos, edits documents at the real-time through our workstation, PC’s Laptop, and Smartphones.
In a decent use of collaboration technology actual/ creative processes of connecting different group and making everyone the same network (Chesbrough, 2003). These tools are used for brainstorming, to gather research and even involve in the creative camping or marketing endeavors. Google Docs, Spread Sheet, and sharing presentation are the popular and common collaboration tools.
The CEO of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs develop the common path when employee is going for lunch. The common trails are specially designed to make interactive their employee. The main purpose of making trails is at least meet and talk with all employees and share their ideas on each days. So these activity makes employee smarter and they think critically when they get the data and information from other department. These activity also helps to make them closer and finally these strategy remove cross functional barrier in Apple Inc. (Johnson & Li, 2012). So we use different virtual collaboration tools to remove cross functional barrier in our organization. By using collaboration tools we are able to share our ideas and guide our team member far from office or from different parts of globes.
Batt, P. a. (2004). Managing collaboration within networks and relationships. Industrial Marketing Management, Vol. 33, No. 3.
Chesbrough, H. (2003). Open innovation: the new imperative for creating and profiting from technology. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, USA.
Johnson, K., & Li, Y. (2012). The Innovative Success that is Apple, Inc. Marshall Digital Scholar, Marshall University , 22-24.
Humans interact in various forms and through various means. Collaborative technologies (CT) has transcended beyond email, text messages and telephone. They are able to connect people anywhere and anytime transforming the world into one big family. (Wallace, 2015) CT help business, research, teaching and just regular personal relationships. Latest technologies used for collaboration are Skype call, Asana, Kiwi Gmail, Podia, video chat through Viber, Messenger etc. remote desktop, Google drive, shared network for accounting software etc.
Skype video can be used to hold meetings which reduces travel cost, time and can be done from anywhere and anytime. For example, I use Skype to organize video meeting with my coworkers in three different districts to address any problems or issues faced and also used to plan for future. Skype is also used in virtual class in Westcliff University as well. Last month, our lead faculty who lives in the US took a class on Marketing through Skype call making it possible to connect and collaborate between two places a world apart.
I use Google drive to collaborate with my co-staff to track and update financial reports, budgets and transfer done to our partner organization. We have a common shared folder in Google drive where we use shared MS Word and MS Excel files which helps us to work together on the same file, suggest edits, place comments marked with resolve which is set as a reminder until suggestions are clarified. This has helped both of us to be clear on the work, reduce problems of recompilation saving valuable time and making its access possible from anywhere with an internet connection.
"The adoption of these technologies involves changing organizational practices, since work is done through them. Research findings also suggest that indirect effects on innovation exist through the influence of e-information. (Cerdan, Luis, Acosta, & Lop, 2008)” CT not only assists in collaboration but will also be a place to collect e-information and with collaboration among team members comes, innovation will not be far off.
Cerdan, M., Luis, A., Acosta, S., & Lop, P. (2008). How do Collaborative Technologies Affect Innovation in SMEs? International Journal of E-Collaboration; Hershey , 33-50.
Wallace, P. (2015). Information System in Action. In P. Wallace, Introduction to Information System (pp. 4-9). New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
Collaboration is an important aspect for the success of business as the ability of the employees to work together in a team is essential to encourage creativity, improve productivity and promote healthy employee relationship in an organization. The organizations are using different tools and technologies for enabling individuals and groups to communicate, collaborate and interact for sharing knowledge and information among geographically dispersed locations. Such technologies used for creating linkage between large number of people and organization to achieve organizational goals are referred to as collaborative technologies. Collaborative technologies are transforming the way people in organizations work together, whether they are in next office or across the globe (Wallace, 2015). Some of the widely used collaborative technologies are:
E-mail: E-mail is the one of the oldest, simplest and probably most used technologies for information sharing. The advantage of e-mail is it is device or application independent and with the attachments we can share almost anything the readers can read. It facilitates sharing of information to multiple team members at once irrespective of their location. It is also used for time management, calendaring, reminders and keeping track of work progress (Olson & Olson).
Instant Messaging (IM): IM allows sharing of text based information or multimedia files to individual or group by using different applications like Messenger, Google Talk, Viber, WhatsApp, Skype etc. It has replaced the use of e-mails, telephones and even face-to-face interactions in some cases as it can be effectively used for quick questions, scheduling, organizing social interactions and keeping in touch with other group members (Cameron & Webster, 2005).
Web Conferencing: Web conferencing supports live meeting via internet where all the participants join meeting from their computers or smartphones. It is widely used for corporate training, global project teams, product announcement and virtual sales calls. The software like WebEx or Go To Meeting are used for web conferencing as they support both voice and video supporting (Wallace, 2015).
Wikis: Wiki facilitates end-user contributions and collaborative editing by allowing users to add and edit interlinked web pages. It is used for centralizing documents and creating knowledge warehouse where any employee can contribute and update the information based on their knowledge and experience.
Virtual Worlds: Virtual worlds are graphical, 3-D representations of physical spaces that allow a person to experience realistic environment, usually through an avatar. Using this technology, people can explore the space, manipulate objects and can interact with other people’s avatars. Meta-Institute of Computational Astrophysics (MITA) is using virtual world for professional seminars, popular lectures and public outreach events (Djorgovski & Hut, 2010).
In addition to these, blogs, micro-blogging, discussion forums, social networks and group decision support system are also used for collaboration.
As the members of virtual teams are located in different geographical locations, they collaborate by using different communication technologies. I think the shared work space is the most appropriate technology for virtual teams. It provides platform for storing, downloading, revising, updating and returning the information associated with the project. The shared work space does not require virtual presence of all the team members at once for collaboration purpose. It also eliminates confusion and duplication as the information is constantly revised. The team members can follow up the work progress, view and edit on the work of other members, revise the work done, check and post updates at their feasible time that makes the team work easier.
Cameron, J. F., & Webster, J. (2005). Unintended consequences of Emerging Communication Technologies: Instant Messaging in the Workplace. Computers in Human Behavior, 21 (1), 85-103.
Djorgovski, S., & Hut, G. (2010). Exploring the Use of Virtual Worlds as a Scientific Research Platform: The Meta-Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA. Facets of Virtual Environments, 33 , 29-43.
Olson, J. S., & Olson, G. M. (n.d.). Collaboration Technologies and Their Use. California: National Acadeny of Sciences (US). Retrieved from https://sites.nationalacademies.org/cs/groups/dbassesite/documents/webpage/dbasse_085360.pdf
Wallace, P. (2015). Introduction to Information Systems (Second ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.
O’Brien & Marakas (2006), in their book Introduction to information systems, collaborative technologies have evolved rapidly, from email that supports contact management with calendaring, text-based collaboration with the options likes discussion forums, instant messaging, and text providing, and till date designed for groups include group decision support systems (GDSS), web conferencing, and shared workspaces.
The major collaborative technologies are explained below:
Email: This is the address book and contact management. In business the records of the clients and coworkers details should be well maintained. Email is a good example which rich the contact management with all the lists and groups storing the contact information. Keeping all this information about clients and coworkers together, synced to a smartphone, boosts productivity.
Discussions forums: It was evolved from the bulletin board as an online site where individual could post text messages, reply at any time and also can discuss any interested topic on. For instance, employee discussion forums is used to share the information of the company and coordinate the activities where they are involved in. This is also using or say serving as online suggestion box to retain the customer feedback and make changes accordingly.
Instant Messaging: This is counted as real-time text based interactions basically used to generate the feedback or say communicate among the colleague over a network. AOL Instant Messenger, Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, and Skype are options of instant messaging.
Group decision support systems (GDSS): This is a face-to-face group meetings. Here, each individual is connected to a shared server in computer and discussed on a topic and solved to get solution identifying problem with brainstorming.
Web Conferencing: This is live meeting via the internet. Here, it includes real-time video, chat, and presentations. Today, business are not stick to home nation, they are involved in trade to host nations. Here, web conference on progress update among the team is helping so far.
Shared Workspaces: This is an area where the members in a team can post shared documents, contact information, news, etc. It is also is the document library, where members can store important information assets, download them for revisions, update them, and return them.
Virtual teams are the members who are never met together and it lacks the trust among the members. So far, initial face-to-face meeting can build trust in virtual teams. Then after, the regular detailed, and prompt communication through video conference (through Google hangout and Skype) with the peers create relationships with responsibilities (Kayworth & Leidner, 2002).
Kayworth, T. R., & Leidner, D. E. (2002). Leadership effectiveness in global virtual teams. Journal of management information systems, 18 (3), 7-40.
O’Brien, J. A., & Marakas, G. M. (2006). Management information systems (Vol. 6). McGraw-Hill Irwin.