Collaborative software is software designed to help people involved in a common task achieve their goals. Collaborative software is the basis for computer supported cooperative work.
Such software systems as e-mail, calendaring, text chat, belong in this category. It has been suggested that Metcalfe's law ? the more people who use something, the more valuable it becomes ? applies to such software.
The more general term social software applies to systems used outside the workplace, for example, online dating services and social networks like IndianFriend Finder and Facebook. The study of computer-supported collaboration includes the study of this software and social phenomena associated with it. These are covered in other articles.
Collaboration, with respect to information technology, seems to have several definitions.
There are three primary ways in which humans interact: conversations, transactions, and collaborations.
Conversational interaction is an exchange of information between two or more participants where the primary purpose of the interaction is discovery or relationship building. There is no central entity around which the interaction revolves but is a free exchange of information with no defined constraints. Communication technology such as telephones, instant messaging, and e-mail are generally sufficient for conversational interactions.
Transactional interaction involves the exchange of transaction entities where a major function of the transaction entity is to alter the relationship between participants. The transaction entity is in a relatively stable form and constrains or defines the new relationship. One participant exchanges money for goods and becomes a customer. Transactional interactions are most effectively handled by transactional systems that manage state and commit records for persistent storage.
In collaborative interactions the main function of the participants' relationship is to alter a collaboration entity (i.e., the converse of transactional). The collaboration entity is in a relatively unstable form. Examples include the development of an idea, the creation of a design, and the achievement of a shared goal. Therefore, real collaboration technologies deliver the functionality for many participants to augment a common deliverable. Record or document management, threaded discussions, audit history, and other mechanisms designed to capture the efforts of many into a managed content environment are typical of collaboration technologies.
An emerging category of computer software, a collaboration platform which is a unified electronic platform that supports synchronous and asynchronous communication through a variety of devices and channels.
An extension of groupware is collaborative media, software that allows several concurrent users to create and manage information in a website.
By method used we can divide them in:
? Web-based collaborative tools
? Software collaborative tools
By area served we can divide them in:
? Knowledge management tools - Knowledge Management ('KM') comprises a range of practices used by organisations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness and learning.
? Knowledge creation tools - There are a range of theories on the nature of knowledge creation in individuals and organizations. There is no agreement on definition or on the range of the field. This topic is linked in philosophy to knowledge and epistemology and in management science to knowledge management.
? Information sharing tools - The term "information sharing" in the information technology terminology has a long history. Traditional information sharing referred to one-to-one exchanges of data between a sender and receiver. These information exhanges are implemented via dozens of open and proprietary protocols, message and file formats. Electronic data interchange (EDI) is a successful implementation of commercial data exchanges that began in the late 1970s and remains in use today.
From the point of view of a computer scientist, the four primary information sharing design patterns are sharing information one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many, and many-to-one. Technologies to meet all four of these design patterns are evolving and include blogs, wikis, real simple subscription, tagging, and chat.
? Collaborative project management tools - Project management tool is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of the particular project. A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to achieve a particular aim. Project management knowledge and practices are best described in terms of their component processes. These processes can be placed into five Process Groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing.
Groupware can be divided into three categories depending on the level of collaboration?communication tools, conferencing tools and collaborative management (Co-ordination) tools.
Communication can be thought of as unstructured interchange of information. A phone call or an IM Chat session is the most common examples. Conferencing (or collaboration level, as it is called in the academic papers that discuss these levels) refers to interactive work toward a shared goal. Brainstorming or voting are the prevalent examples. Co-ordination refers to complex interdependent work toward a shared goal. A good metaphor for understanding this is to think about a sports team; everyone has to contribute the right play at the right time as well as adjust their play to the unfolding situation - but everyone is doing something different - in order for the team to win. That is complex interdependent work toward a shared goal: co-ordination.
Electronic communication tools
Electronic communication tools send messages, files, data, or documents between people and hence facilitate the sharing of information. Examples include:
? Synchronous conferencing ? Synchronous conferencing is the formal term used in science, in particular in computer-mediated communication, collaboration and learning, to describe text chat technologies. Today it is occasionally also extended to mean audio and/or video conferencing or instant messaging systems, given they provide a text-based multi-user chat function. The word synchronous in this case is not to be considered a technical term, but rather describing how it is perceived by humans - chat happens in real-time.
Typical synchronous conferencing technologies include:
? Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
? Jabber (XMPP)
? Protocol for SYnchronous Conferencing (PSYC)
? E-mail - Electronic mail (abbreviated as "e-mail") is a store and forward method of composing, sending, storing, and receiving messages over electronic communication systems. The term "e-mail" (as a noun or verb) applies both to the Internet e-mail system based on the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and to intranet systems allowing users within one organization to e-mail each other. Often these workgroup collaboration organizations may use the Internet protocols for internal e-mail service. E-mail is often used to deliver bulk unsolicited messages, or "spam", but filter programs exist which can automatically delete some of these.
? Instant Messaging - Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time communication between two or more people based on typed text. The text is conveyed via computers connected over a network such as the Internet.
? Faxing - Fax (short for facsimile, from Latin fac simile, "make similar", i.e. "make a copy") is a telecommunications technology used to transfer copies (facsimiles) of documents, especially using affordable devices operating over the telephone network. The word tele-fax, short for tele-facsimile, for "make a copy at a distance", is also used as a synonym. The device is also known as a tele-copier in certain industries.
? Voice mail - Voicemail (or voice mail, vmail or VMS, sometimes called messagebank) is a centralized system of managing telephone messages for a large group of people.
? Wikis - A wiki is a collaborative website which can be directly edited by anyone with access to it. Ward Cunningham, developer of the first wiki WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as "the simplest online database that could possibly work". Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis.
? Web publishing - A website (alternatively, Web site or web site) is a collection of Web pages, images, videos and other digital assets that is hosted on one or several Web server(s), usually accessible via the Internet, cell phone or a LAN.
A Web page is a document, typically written in HTML, that is almost always accessible via HTTP, a protocol that transfers information from the Web server to display in the user's Web browser. All publicly accessible websites are seen collectively as constituting the "World Wide Web".
Collaborative management tools
Collaborative management tools facilitate and manage group activities. Examples include:
? Electronic calendars (also called time management software) ? schedule events and automatically notify and remind group members
? Project management systems ? schedule, track, and chart the steps in a project as it is being completed
? Workflow systems ? collaborative management of tasks and documents within a knowledge-based business process
? Knowledge management systems ? collect, organize, manage, and share various forms of information
? Extranet systems (sometimes also known as 'project extranets') ? collect, organize, manage and share information associated with the delivery of a project (eg: the construction of a building)
? Hosted intranet systems (such as Hyperoffice,Hotoffice or Intranets.com) ? collect, organize, manage and share information associated with the delivery of a project (eg: the construction of a building)
? Social software systems ? organize social relations of groups
? Online spreadsheets ? collaborate and share structured data and information
Collaborative software can be either web based (such as UseModWiki or Scoop), or desktop systems (such as CVS or RCS).
The biggest obstacle in implementing groupware is convincing people to use it. Training is required to make people comfortable using it, and if people don't feel comfortable with the software, they won't use it.
In many cases collaboration is at odds with the company's corporate culture so implementation will be off-base. Shifting a corporate culture from being competitive to being cooperative is no small undertaking.
One of the biggest hurdles is the typical large enterprise desire to standardize knowledge practice across that enterprise and to implement tools and processes which support that aim. Much greater value and quicker implementation can be achieved by avoidance of the "one size fits all" theory. Harvest and nurture the practice of collaboration where it flourishes of its own volition to gain the quickest return.
Benefits of Collaborative Software
? Distance learning and collaboration software is beneficial to on-site students as well as off-site students.
? Collaborative learning (CL) allows students to work together in small groups to help each other master academic material. CL helps teachers by exploiting the ability of students to communicate with each other, and more actively engages students in academic content.
? It is often difficult, however, for students to find a place and time to work together. Certain students end up doing most of the work, with all of them receiving the same grade. Collaboration through computers would alleviate these problems because work can be done asynchronously, and students can create and access files at their own convenience.
? Development of writing skills
? Teachers can see and respond to what everybody is thinking
? Everybody has time to do good work and their work is more efficient
? Work can be anonymous and students can feel pride of ownership.
? Teachers can use the Collaborative Learning and the software for the following purposes:
1) To get students more actively engaged in academic content
2) To leverage the teacher's efforts by exploiting the ability of students to relate to and communicate with each other.
? Problems of scheduling and geographic separation no longer exist if each group member can choose when and where to work because the team's work is done via computer. A host computer, usually at the college, houses and organizes the work of each student and each learning team. Students access the files created by fellow team members at a time of their choice. If the college computer is connected to a local area network, the students can log in to their team's files from another computer on the network. Or, if the host computer has a modem, students can call in from their own modems and personal computer. Or, if the host computer has a gateway to the Internet, students can access the team's files via their own Internet Services Provider.
? Better Focus on the Job At Hand - Social interactions can be distracting. They may also lead to stress and conflict. In the computer environment, students find it easier to focus on the tasks at hand. Social stress and conflict may still occur, such as when a group member underperforms the expected role, but the remedial efforts can be less personalized and threatening in computer-mediated collaboration. Providing a special place for group-process discussion also reminds the students of the importance of developing team-working skills, and they teach that to each other.
? WORK IS MORE EFFICIENT - In an asynchronous collaboration, students and teacher work more efficiently because they select when to participate and how long to participate in any given work session. Thus, they can accomplish productive work even in short periods where the time might otherwise be wasted. The automated organization of materials in the computer environment also make it easier to integrate documents, especially if they can be linked in context. Finally, the collaborative software provides fast and efficient searches of the files.
Ambujex and Collaborative Software go hand-in-hand
We at Ambujex, always keep a simple goal on how to improve service after sales relationships with our clients. We enhance dealer efficiency and service and improve sales, delivery and execution of parts and accessories. Our Software Solution for Automotive Dealer Collaboration is designed to streamline and automate business processes. Our solution can help access, organize, store, retrieve and manipulate information in real time to improve service after sales.
Achieving Return on Investment (ROI) on efficient systems and automated processes. The Ambujex Software Solution can help you reduce expenses utilizing the cost-efficient Internet to promote collaboration, communications and advertising automating processes such as capturing, tracking and fulfilling channel orders upgrading from batch file transfer based dealer communication systems (DCS) to service offerings in real time.
Q: How Ambujex?s Collaborative software different from other web conferencing tools?
It supports meetings with problem-solving and decision-making tools that enable group idea generation, data capture and prioritization, surveying, action planning and documentation. Our software goes beyond one-way web-based presentation tools to facilitate two-way collaboration and exchange. Everyone adds ideas to organized agenda items while viewing and building on the ideas of the whole group. The group can then prioritize the ideas in a variety of ways to achieve rapid, focused decision making.
Q: What are the advantages of using collaborative technology in a meeting room?
Electronic meeting tools improve the productivity and quality of meetings and workshops by enabling fast paced idea generation, prioritization, and action planning. Having participants use their computer to add ideas and respond directly to questions in their own words provides an efficient and energizing way to gather data, share ideas and build creative solutions. Anonymity helps get difficult issues on the table and changes the tone of a discussion from a focus on personalities to a focus on common ground. And at the end of the day, all of your meeting output is already documented - no more flip charts to roll up and type up.
Q: When is it appropriate to use anonymous brainstorming?
Anonymity during brainstorming and idea generation changes the group dynamic; it tends to make people more open about sharing their ideas, less concerned about whether their idea is appropriate and more prepared to risk something out of the ordinary. Anonymity can also help people listen to other people's ideas, stripping away assumptions about hidden agendas, personalities and biases and allowing people to focus on what is actually being said. In some instances, not often, anonymity could cause problems. If a group is already talking behind each other's backs or not taking responsibility for their opinions then anonymous brainstorming may exacerbate the behavior. It is important to determine when anonymity will support your meeting outcomes and when it would get in the way.
Q: How is security handled on an Internet-based system?
Our software provides several levels of security implementation to meet the particular requirements of your organization. Participant access is controlled by user IDs and passwords that limit users to particular online conferences and topics as appropriate. Our software also allows for SSL encryption, custom Port designations and IP address restrictions.
Q: How can I calculate the return on investment of purchasing your software?
ROI is calculated in many ways including cost and time savings from travel eliminated, reduction in meeting times and project/survey schedules, increased participation in meetings and surveys, improvements in the quality of ideas and level of buy-in to solutions, and more.