South-Western - Management  
Technology: Business Solutions
Topic Communication
Key Words Technology, collaboration, communication
News Story

Most common work-sharing tools are stretched to the limit. Email is slowed down by spam, massive data files, corporate memos, forwarded jokes, and more. Consequently, more companies are turning to specialized collaboration software to facilitate communication among team members.

The software can manage the progress of projects, conduct polls among team members, and control access. Some programs tell you when team members are online and advance files to managers for approval.

Ketchum, Inc. has created a secure online site with Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. Fireman's representatives, a graphics subcontractor, and the Ketchum account team in six locations around the U.S. share plans, research materials, calendars, and drafts. As the graphics company creates proposed designs for the program's Web site, it posts drafts to the work space. This enables everyone to have access to the latest version, and avoids clogging email inboxes with massive graphics files.

The downside of these tools is that they require the user to leave the desktop applications in which they're working and go to a separate Web page to share their work. Microsoft and IBM are currently working on versions that allow users easier access.

Although collaboration tools are spreading, they are still largely limited to desktop computers.


What is collaboration software, and how does it facilitate teamwork?


Search the Web for articles on collaboration software, and list additional uses for this kind of application. Given all these uses, why do you think more companies aren't using it?

Source "Technology: Business Solutions," The Wall Street Journal, Eastern Ed. May 24, 2004, p. R4.
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