Cloud collaboration: your 2023 guide to better productivity and security in the cloud

cloud collaboration

“Collaboration tools found renewed importance during COVID-19 for their role in ensuring the productivity of suddenly remote teams,” said Christopher Trueman, principal research analyst at Gartner. According to the research firm’s latest Digital Worker Experience Survey, nearly 80% of workers were using collaboration tools in 2021 – 44% more compared to pre-pandemic rates. Trueman added: “As many organizations shift to a long-term hybrid workforce model, cloud-based, personal and team productivity technologies, along with collaboration tools, will form the core of a series of new work hubs that meet the requirements of various remote and hybrid workers.”

Choosing the right cloud solution, however, is a high-stake decision. Get it wrong and you lose credibility, clients, income – and sleep. “For us, nothing is more important than data. It’s our lifeline and the foundation of customer trust. We don’t have paper records either so if we lost the data entrusted to us, we wouldn’t have anything left,” explained Etienne Deshoulières, founder and managing partner of Deshoulières Avocats. The Paris-based law firm had switched to Tresorit well before the pandemic hit, looking for a cloud-based collaboration tool that offered comprehensive security features along with speed.

With the global cloud collaboration market expected to grow into a 137.3-billion-dollar opportunity over the next decade, this decision is also becoming an increasingly complex one. In this article, we’ll guide you through what cloud collaboration is and what it can do for your organization as well as what to look for in a cloud-based collaboration tool and how to make the implementation process all gain, no pain.

What is cloud collaboration: definition and key features

Cloud collaboration, according to TechTarget, is a type of enterprise collaboration that makes it possible for employees to work together on documents and other types of data, which are stored outside the organization’s premises and firewall. Collaboration in the cloud allows users, two or more, to share, edit, and work together on projects simultaneously.

It starts with one of them creating the file and inviting others to collaborate, that is, view, comment on, edit, and share the document, through a link. Any changes that collaborators make are saved and synced in real time, which means that users, internal or external, have access to the latest version of the work file at all times.

The benefits of cloud collaboration: how it increases productivity and participation

In a world where work is increasingly becoming something that we do and not somewhere we go, cloud collaboration tools are becoming critical to keeping businesses moving and growing. Here are some of the ways they can make work more about people and productivity and less about places and processes.

Manage large files with ease

“We have to share large documents, often tens of them, with clients, colleagues and tribunals, within France and beyond. Speed and reliability are critical,” said Etienne Deshoulières. He and his team are certainly not alone with this challenge. Using cloud storage, however, workers no longer need to send them as attachments – only to see them returned as undeliverable due to size.

Help your distributed workforce succeed

As remote, hybrid and distributed workplaces have gained more prevalence over the past few years, so has the need for solutions that allow workers to access and get their work done whenever and wherever they have to – or prefer to. In-cloud team collaboration improves productivity by offering 24/7 access to the files shared, along with any updates to them.

Take advantage of a larger talent pool

Exploring ideas and working simultaneously on the same assets doesn’t require people to be in the same room anymore – just to be signed in to the same platform. Meaning that cloud collaboration tools can boost organizations’ recruitment efforts, enabling you to scout, vet, and hire the best talent for any job beyond conventional geographic limitations. Plus, enjoy flexible work scheduling across working hours and time zones.

Keep control over your data assets

Ideally, cloud collaboration services come with security controls that offer unmatched protection against data loss, leakage, or misuse in the cloud. By sharing access to information instead of the information itself, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre pointed out, users can change or revoke permissions when necessary and stay in charge of who does what with shared work files.

From messaging apps to PMS: 4 collaboration tool types you should know about

1. Project management software

Tools for project management are designed to help project contributors plan, assign, and manage tasks, track progress, allocate resources, budget, and meet deadlines.

2. Tools for communication

The purpose of this type of cloud collaboration software is to facilitate instant and group messaging as well as phone and video conferencing between employees.

3. Cloud storage and file-sharing tools

Serving as shared knowledge and asset pools, these tools allow team members in and outside a company to securely store and share files as well as to view and edit them in real time.

4. Online whiteboards

Ideal for running brainstorming sessions and transforming ideas into action points, digital whiteboards make visual collaboration more effective through text, drawings, and graphics.

Looking for a cloud collaboration tool? Here’s what to look out for

There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to collaborative cloud storage and even less so to collaborative document sharing. The ability to exchange information and connect with collaborators in real-time, however, is a must-have feature, whether it’s done through comments, group chat, or a message board. Just as importantly, authorized users should have access to shared assets at all times as well as be able to make changes offline and sync updates to the cloud once their connection is re-established.

From a security perspective, custom permission levels are critical. And in some cases, statutory. For example, HIPAA-covered entities are legally required to create and maintain security controls to keep access to ePHI to the minimum necessary, along with access logs. According to Thomson Reuters: “Feature administration is often overlooked but can be the most important control. The administration interface must give you the flexibility to tailor features that allow your users to work the way your organization works.”

These are the most common challenges of collaboration tool deployment – and how to overcome them

Changing your company’s digital infrastructure – whether that’s due to your company’s evolving needs, upgrades, or because your current software has reached its end of life – can get overwhelming fast. Follow these steps to minimize disruption and ensure your operations don’t just run smoothly, but become safer and more secure.

1. Reassess the digital landscape – and how you fare

Data security regulations are constantly changing, so make sure you brush up on your company’s legal responsibilities to store and share data securely, especially if you have offices in more than one country. It’s also a good time to weigh up which type of encryption will best serve your company, based on local laws and any digital security concerns that could put your company at risk.

Not all encryption methods are created equal, and it’s crucial to understand how each one works. End-to-end encryption, the security industry gold standard, ensures that files and their relevant metadata are encrypted on your device with unique, randomly generated encryption keys. These keys are never sent to our servers in an unencrypted format, and accessing files is only possible with users’ own unique decryption key.

2. Know thy organization and its needs

In order to get the most of your cloud collaboration tool, think through what you need from it. Working out how many employees will need to use the system is a good place to start. Some departments, such as finance and research and development, may seem to have the most obvious need for cybersecurity software, but in reality, any team handling personal or sensitive information needs to send and store data securely.

If some employees work remotely, make sure the solution is available on a range of web browsers and laptops, as well as tablets and devices for work on the go. You’ll also need a good idea on whether your encrypted files will be shared internally or externally. Some tools require recipients to download certain software to retrieve their files, which can cause problems when you’re sharing data with outsiders .

3. Turn users into collaborators – and security allies

A comprehensive training program is essential to make sure your staff feels supported and confident using cloud collaboration tools in their daily work. Getting team members up to speed as quickly as possible can greatly reduce loss in productivity while you’re implementing new software. It’s also a good opportunity to remind them that cybersecurity incidents come in all shapes and sizes and often result from negligent or accidental insider behavior, like an email sent to the wrong recipient.

How Tresorit can help

Protect your company’s data when sharing files inside or outside your organization – and keep your assets in sight long after they’ve been shared. An end-to-end encrypted content collaboration platform, Tresorit empowers you to:

  • Maximize productivity and security at the same time
  • Exchange files securely with external collaborators, including clients and vendors, using encrypted links. Ultra-secure share links enable zero-knowledge, end-to-end encrypted document and folder sharing with anyone in just a few clicks or taps, even if they don’t have a Tresorit account.

  • Prevent data breaches due to human error and malicious attacks
  • Apply policy templates, including 2-step verification, IP filtering, timeout policies, and sharing policies, to a set of users, create different policies for each template and modify these policies at any moment through a single interface. Disable downloads or add watermarks to protect highly sensitive data.

  • Empower your to work securely anywhere, anytime
  • No matter where and when they work, team members can access the latest file versions on all mobile devices, mark files as ‘editing’, and save files for offline use. You can also decide which devices are allowed to access which files and from where users are allowed to log in to safeguard business-critical documents.

  • Encrypt attachments automatically in Gmail and Outlook
  • Empower your teams to work efficiently and send encrypted emails by integrating Tresorit with Google Workspace or Azure Active Directory and Office 365. The add-ins offer a fast and easy way for users to replace risky email attachments with encrypted share links and password-protected files using their existing email addresses.