Technology has allowed us to collaborate with people from different parts of the world. These apps will allow your team to collaborate more efficiently when distance is an issue.
A champion knows its challengers’ strengths and weaknesses. For enterprises seeking team collaboration solutions, a good starting point for comparison shopping is studying the breakdown of industry leaders’ competition.
When Microsoft calls out its competitors, it singles out Google, IBM, Cisco, OpenOffice.org, SalesForce.com, and VMWare. Meanwhile, the collaboration software space spotlights leading contenders, such as Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps, IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, Apache OpenOffice, Cisco Collaboration Cloud, and SalesForce.com’s collaborative products — with NetSuite poised to join the pack.
Microsoft Office 365 & Office 2013
Forrester reviewed Office 2013 and its collaborative performance, following a 38-point comparison of eight leading cloud collaboration vendors. Reviewers found that Office 2013 represented a hybrid cloud collaboration option for enterprises. It mixes traditional on-premise elements with cloud mobility and social connectivity.
Office 2013, bundled with Office 365 for enterprises, is integrated with an upgrade of SharePoint, Microsoft’s intranet-building tool. It offers dragging and dropping between Outlook and SharePoint and facilitates applications, including calendar and task management sharing among team members. Office 2013 project management templates also simplify common business functions and comes with SkyDrive (soon to be renamed). SkyDrive provides the same functionality as Dropbox, yet in a more secure environment. The addition of Yammer and Skype potentially bring enterprise social capability to the suite.
Office 2013’s has limitations though. Its prioritization of Windows Mobile and requirement of Windows 7 or 8 excludes popular mobile platforms. Tighter integration with Lync and the development of Skype will be required for Office 2013 to possess a unified communications solution comparable to competitors. The suite’s hybrid nature also trades on-premise benefits for the ability to keep pace with innovation that purely cloud-based competitors can deliver.
The Office 365 Midsize Business package, geared towards companies with 10 to 250 employees, costs $15 per user per month. An annual commitment is required.
Whereas Office’s appeal stems from enterprise experience, Google Apps brings consumer experience to enterprises. Google’s browser-based productivity suite offers more streamlined and less flexible functionality than Office. It centers around Gmail, Calendar and file sharing. For enterprises, this package runs $5 to $10 per user per month, which makes Google Apps competitive mainly on pricing.
Even less expensive than Google Apps, Apache OpenOffice represents stealth potential with more robust capability. This popular open source alternative to Office is free, and its developers are currently developing a cloud-based version with the intent of challenging Microsoft. With the IBM China Development Laboratory assisting, this could get interesting.
NetSuite on the Rise
NetSuite is rated by Gartner as the “fastest growing financial management system company,” according to SeekingAlpha.com. It has made recent advances that position it for explosive growth. It’s a rising force to watch in the collaborative cloud market. Solutions such as POS system by NetSuite draw on the company’s expertise in financial software to provide enterprises with a collaboration solution suited to mobile e-commerce applications. Recently joining a powerful alliance that includes Oracle, Microsoft and Salesforce.com, NetSuite represents a collaborative solution for enterprises seeking cloud-based financial management.