Innovation drivers in cloud collaboration

The audience demand for digital publishing is creating a gravitational pull for innovation within the publishing process.

Your audience wants content delivered in many digital formats, which means authoring and publishing tools need to lift their game. Word processors and other authoring tools are being pushed online, with varying levels of success when it comes to cloud collaboration.

Feeding into this gravitational pull, I believe two key factors have created a new breed of purpose-built cloud collaboration tools:

  1. Changes to software distribution models means more choice for you.
  2. A more competitive market means user experience is paramount.

What we mean by 'cloud collaboration'

But first, let's start with our definition of these terms, as everyone has their own spin:

  • Cloud software exists entirely on the internet – hosting, updates and support all managed by the vendor. You don't need to download or maintain any software to be able to use the application... well, aside from a web browser.
  • Collaboration is all about communication, knowledge transfer and productivity.

Cloud collaboration is using the power of the internet to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of teams – in our case, when authoring documents.

You're not stuck with old tools anymore

First, changes to software distribution models. In the old days, you either installed software on your desktop, or had to build-and-maintain custom web-based software with a supplier.

Today, many of your applications are delivered as online services in your web-browser, also known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). This concept is not new, but the field has matured.

Through SaaS, software procurement and set up is becoming much easier for the masses, but presents a new model for Government buyers. From the perspective of the Australian Government CTO, the Cloud is not just about technology, it's also about a new form of procurement:

'It’s a different form of procurement, buying different technologies than we’ve been buying previously, or perhaps combined in a different way than they’ve been combined previously.'

There are many considerations to buying cloud software, however a key benefit is more choice for you, outside of costly build-and-maintain software – and an increased likelihood to find tailored online services that are a better fit for your individual needs.

Quality experience is paramount

The second major driver is a more competitive market, which means that user experience (and perfectly tailored tools) differentiate the products available.

To be successful, any product has to be:

  • Fast to learn and easy to use – otherwise you won’t use it.
  • Provide a familiar experience – which means you spend less time learning new software and more time getting stuff done.
  • Easy to get your content in – and out again. Always a good idea to avoid vendor lock-in, as cloud software should make it easier for you to change providers down the track.

The popularity of SaaS products like Squarespace, MailChimp and Shopify, while not necessarily in the publishing space, demonstrate how SaaS provides a much better experience to manage and distribute your content and products.

These examples are relevant as they allow authors to focus on content and editing. Perhaps you get some professional help to set it up to best meet your needs, but afterwards, there is no need for a designer or developer every time you want to publish.

The same thing is happening to document publishing: to support many digital outputs from a single-source of content, digital publishing tools have an increasing reliance on templates that can be customised, allowing for professionally designed outputs, as well as dynamic publishing with one-click.

That's an example of authoring tools aiming to optimise your experience as a user: allowing you to focus on the content, while the product takes care of the rest.

A new breed of document collaboration

The relative ease of procuring Software-as-a-Service, combined with user experience being of paramount importance, has enabled a new breed of specialised document collaboration tools – and we feel privileged to be part of that family.

These tools allow you to more efficiently work with a distributed authoring team, effectively maintain quality control, and publish to the many formats that your audience now demands.