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From communication to collaboration: how IT is leading the way in team alignment

Technology has certainly made it easier than ever before for geographically dispersed teams to swap information and collaborate. But how can businesses that rely on the successful co-working of remote project teams make sure this information is organised so that everyone stays aligned to a common business goal or objective?

One thing business executives and team leaders know well is that just communicating via emails, phone calls and videoconferencing isn’t enough to support the level of collaboration necessary to unite project teams. The result of using these more "traditional" methods of communication means that discussions often end up disjointed; that others who are involved in the project are excluded; or that conversations remain under-documented.

This process almost seems antiquated in our automation-obsessed, socially connected world. But things are moving forward, thanks to social collaboration technology.

Around 75 per cent of businesses now recognise the need to utilise social collaboration technology in order to stay competitive and enable future growth. But what is it? Well, put simply, social collaboration technology provides businesses and teams with a controlled, secure and private "space" in which teams can communicate, file share and organise projects, time and resources.

This contrasts with the social networking that we are used to in the more generic sense through personal applications such as Facebook and Twitter, which support open, chaotic, random and uncontrolled conversations. Social collaboration platforms are designed to put business objectives, or projects, at their core; facilitating how colleagues work together to deliver value to the business and their clients.

There are many reasons IT professionals and businesses executives are now taking such an interest in social collaboration technology. For instance, using collaboration tools could raise efficiencies in your firm by up to 25 per cent according to a July 2012 report issued by McKinsey Global Institute. Furthermore, reports that 62 per cent of IT decision makers believe social collaboration tools make workers more productive and 57 per cent believe that they help their teams get work done faster. It all translates to improved profitability and improved customer service for businesses like yours.

Just imagine a virtual white board that never gets erased; an online place for everyone to connect; easy file sharing via all of your favourite file management systems such as Dropbox, Box and Google Drive; and a shared calendar to keep everyone on track. How much easier would life be if teams and individuals could meet in the same virtual place to 'get things done' and help employees, consultants, clients and suppliers to keep up to date and trajectory at all times? It's an understatement to say that technology has revolutionised information sharing in the last twenty years, but the natural next step is to use technology for better collaboration and to help facilitate action across your firm.

Deltek is a global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms.