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Cool collaboration technologies for the small business – part 2

As we discussed in Part 1 collaboration is a crucial element for any business to succeed. You can have all the shiny objects – the cool technology, the great architecture, the second-to-none leadership team – but unless you’re collaborating effectively the organization will not succeed in today’s competitive workforce.

At the same time, just to keep things in perspective, getting everybody on the same page, assigning tasks, following-up on pending items, and ensuring that everyone is in lock-step, is something that all companies struggle with at times.




We kicked off our discussion in the last segment by looking at Google Drive and Basecamp as two examples of cutting edge collaboration tools to help streamline and improve your small business efficiency, one providing cloud hosted document storage and the other a digital project management platform. Let’s turn now to a few more solutions that you should consider adding to your stack of cool collaboration technologies.


Turning yourself into a robot through telepresence is becoming a trendy and more cost effective way to connect to your workplace remotely. And because of the decrease in price points there are increasing numbers of options for a market that was previously prohibitive to the average consumer. Some great telepresence devices are available for those wanting to get onboard with this latest revolution, such as Double Robotics, BeamPro, and Beam+.




One of the most popular and versatile telepresence solutions on the market is VGo. The robot started selling in 2010 and has made significant inroads into a number of industries, including medicine and education. The VGo all in one telepresence device is 4 feet tall, offers a battery life of 6 hours between charges, and connects to the internet using WiFi or Verizon 4G LTE service. Verizon showcases VGo as a robotic telepresence solution that provides educational solutions for children that cannot attend a traditional classroom due to illness, socio-economics, or geographical separation. VGo is a great example of a device that has gained tremendous versatility for extending telepresence beyond the domain of the traditional office. At $5995, VGo is higher priced than some of the other solutions out there, but the market traction it has received suggests that VGo is definitely worth the investment.


Yammer is an example of an enterprise social network service that helps people collaborate in real-time across departments in order to stay connected, organized, and share information effectively. As an alternative to the incessant meetings and email chains, Yammer provides a dashboard similar in layout to Facebook (arguably the world’s biggest social collaboration tool) in order to help companies transform their collaboration process into a social experience.

After creating a profile a new user can setup public or private work groups, discover other groups, and invite other users to join their team to work on projects. The neat thing about Yammer is that it provides a forum for open communications so that everyone is on the same team and benefits from shared information.




Yammer realizes that workers today need to be accessible anytime and anywhere on any device. Through its mobile app users can stay connected to company updates, messages, and notifications. Access is available on iPhone/iPad, Android, and Windows.

The platform offers a freemium model so that the basic social networking utility is free for anyone to use while more advanced features are only $3 per user/per month. The Office 365 Enterprise version allows users to integrate in Office Web Apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for reading and light editing for $8 per user/per month.

Communication styles, especially in the world of business, have changed dramatically in recent years. So much information is produced on a daily basis that business leaders have very little time to wade through long messages. Trends are towards shorter and crisper communications.


Efforts are even alive and well to deliver enterprise no-email messaging capabilities. Asana is one of the most notable platforms on the market today. As a teamwork communication manager that is designed to manage projects and tasks without email, Asana has started to gain some solid traction among startups and innovators. The aim of Asana is to re-imagine team communications from the ground up.




In a nutshell Asana operates through a workflow. Each team gets a workspace that contains contain projects, and projects contain tasks. Within each task, users can add notes, comments, attachments, and tags. Users can follow projects and tasks and get automatic updates so they don’t have to search for information across scattered emails. Asana easily integrates with other commonly used tools like Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Asana mobile apps are also available for iOS and Android.

Asana is available free for teams of up to 15 people and up to 5 projects. The Premium version of Asana offers paid plans for larger teams or entire organizations. Pricing is tiered based on the number of people within the team or organization. For example, it’s $50/month for 15 team members and $100/month for 30.


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About Jeffrey Walker

Jeff is a business development consultant who specializes in helping businesses grow through technology innovations and solutions. He holds multiple master’s degrees from institutions such as Andrews University and Columbia University, and leverages this background towards empowering people in today’s digital world. He currently works as a research specialist for a Fortune 100 firm in Boston. When not writing on the latest technology trends, Jeff runs a robotics startup called virtupresence.com, along with oversight and leadership of startuplabs.co - an emerging market assistance company that helps businesses grow through innovation.