Puneet Varma (Editor)

Document collaboration

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Document and file collaboration are the tools or systems set up to help multiple people work together on a single document or file to achieve a single final version. Normally, this is software that allows teams to work on a single document, such as a Word document, at the same time from different computer terminals or mobile devices. Hence, document or file collaboration today is a system allowing people to collaborate across different locations using an Internet, or "cloud", enabled approach.



Document collaboration in a general sense simply refers to more than one person co-authoring a document. However, most people today when talking about document collaboration are referring to (generally internet based) ways for a team of workers to work together on an electronic document from computer terminals based anywhere in the world.

Recent developments

In recent years, the market has seen a rapid development in document collaboration tools. Primitive document collaboration used email, whereby comments would be written in the email with the document attached. The problem was that this was not a document-centric solution (i.e. Comments and discussions around the document were separate from the document itself). Today, the best document collaboration tools are more document-centric. These systems provide a user with a document-centric collaboration experience because they allow users to tag the document and add content specific comments, maintaining a complete version history and records and storing all comments and activities associated around a document. For this reason, an increasing number of firms are using email less and file sharing and document collaboration tools more.

These new innovations are only possible because of the development of cloud computing, whereby software and applications are provisioned on the Internet, or "the cloud". New solutions for document collaboration make heavy use of the cloud, with files uploaded to be viewed in the cloud. The first HTML5 online word processor, announced at CeBIT 2012 is among the most recent achievements.

Most analysts agree that the best cloud collaboration tools:

  • Use real-time commenting and instant messaging features to enhance speed of project delivery
  • Leverage presence indicators to identify when others are active on documents owned by another person
  • Allow users to set permissions and manage other users' activity profiles
  • Allow users to set personal activity feeds and email alert profiles to keep abreast of latest activities per file or user
  • Allow the user to collaborate and share files with users outside the company firewall
  • Comply with company security and compliance framework
  • Ensure full auditability of files and documents shared within and outside the organization
  • Reduce workarounds for sharing and collaboration on large files
  • Future prospects

    To date, only 5% of businesses have installed Web 2.0 collaboration applications. However, document collaboration based in the cloud looks set to grow rapidly this decade, as cloud based services begin to really take-off. Analysts give different projections for the growth of the cloud computing sector.

  • Frost & Sullivan predicts that the cloud industry is set to grow by 39% every year until 2015 when it will be worth $5.8 billion.
  • Forrester is even more optimistic, predicting that Software as a service and Web 2.0 applications will be worth $22 billion by 2013.
  • The IDC says the cloud computing market is set to hit $44.2 billion by 2013 and that Cloud-related services will grow at more than five times the rate of the IT industry in 2011, up 30% from 2010.
  • New innovative firms are joining the industry as cloud based document collaboration gets adopted more and more by businesses around the world. It is for this reason that document collaboration has become an area of IT services industry analysts are watching for the future.

    Notable document collaboration software

  • Box
  • CollaborateCloud
  • DocuShare
  • Dropbox
  • eXo Platform (Open Source)
  • Google Docs
  • Sharepoint
  • LogicalDOC
  • OnlyOffice (Formerly TeamLab)
  • Xaitporter
  • Workshare
  • Cloud collaboration
  • Collaborative document review
  • Collaborative editing
  • Document-centric collaboration
  • References

    Document collaboration Wikipedia

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