Dropbox is Late to the Team Collaboration Party
Teams Need a Better Way to Collaborate
Recent announcements from Dropbox about their interest in the team collaboration space are all good. We at Samepage are in violent agreement that the world needs better team collaboration apps. It's nice to see such a prominent vendor recognizing what we've known at Samepage for years — SMBs need to move their communications and teamwork methods beyond email. And beyond file sync.
Ironically the greatest challenge to efficient team collaboration today isn't a lack of good productivity or communication software. Rather it's the proliferation of it. Unfortunately, with so many cloud apps to choose among — from email to IM to file sync to task/project management to online productivity — team-based content and conversations have become increasingly distributed and fragmented across a slew of siloed applications. As a result, collaboration has become more frustrating, rather than simpler. There's an inherent and hidden cost in hunting for last week’s budget forecast spreadsheet in your email inbox or trying to figure out if the Q4 planning meeting notes are in Dropbox, Google Apps, or an old email.
We Live in a Post-File World
We kinda feel badly for the file sync guys. The train left the station a long time ago. And the light at the end of the tunnel (commoditization of storage) is forcing them to either move up the stack to collaboration apps or down the stack to a general storage platform in order to maintain customer value and revenue opportunity. The jury is out on the platform approach, but one thing is clear — they are not the right actors to solve the team collaboration problem.
In today's post-file world, we are rapidly moving from standalone files on our desktops, to one where much of our content is created, stored, and distributed completely in the cloud — think about how much you're working with apps like Office 365, Google Apps, Adobe Creative Cloud, Prezi, Brainshark. Are enterprises with a DNA built on storing and syncing files across devices really the best folks to create and lead the way in uniting cloud and file content with the communications associated with that content? Or are they better off being cloud storage containers for the legacy file-based content that we'll be forced to deal with for years to come? Kinda like having the office fax machine around the office for that once-a-year fax you send. And remember, it wasn't the fax companies that brought us us email, IM, or SMS.
Contextual Collaboration — Our Non-Negotiable Future
True team collaboration is about helping people work seamlessly. Teams need to be able to create and access content, take action, and make decisions. Access to files alone won't do that. Gannt charts won't do that. The only way to have seamless teamwork is for the conversations that surround the content and the actions to all be tied together. That's contextual collaboration.
Standalone applications are only a small part of the puzzle. File sync apps don't provide context ("I see all these sales forecast in my Dropbox folder...but why must I look in email and IM to find the commentary from each regional sales manager?") Task and project management apps are so structured and complicated, they aren't adaptable to the common, day-to-day workflows that make up the vast majority of our daily work hours (e.g., meeting notes, candidate interviewing process, product specs, event planning, etc.). Chat and instant messaging are great for quick, casual conversations, but they're emphemeral, here now, gone in a second. Tough to create institutional knowledge, let alone manage a project or a hiring process in chat.
What teams need is an online collaboration app that tames all these disparate cloud apps. So teams can still use the apps they love, gathered in one "über" app they can set-up to work the way they do in less than 5 minutes. An app that brings content, actions, and conversations in one centralized place so context is always present, and never lost. With security, privacy, and the ability to work with people inside, and outside, of their organization. An app with a searchable knowledgebase so content, actions, and conversations are searchable — forever. Developed by a company with more than 60,000 SMB customers. A company that uses the same app to run their entire business and has for three years. (Nothing like eating your own dog food, eh?)
Too good to be true? Nope. That's Samepage. And it's here, right now. Already doing now what other apps only dream of doing. And by the time those guys get here? Well, we'll have already left them eating our dust — business as usual for Samepage.