Collaborative problem-solving is gaining traction as everything from classrooms to R and D and manufacturing is becoming more open, customisable and crowd sourced. For example, you can decide what you want to learn for howsoever long with Khan Academy, deploy your ideas with a Kickstarter campaign, use 3D printers to deliver customer-specific answers, and receive payment through PayPal, bitcoins and so on. Apps that enhance the experience in this ecosystem are becoming multi-platform and synchronous, with an ultimate aim to democratise knowledge and make your ‘workplace’ portable. Here are three examples.
This app aims to make it easier for customer feedback to influence strategy. It serves as a repository of information, helps you mine it to ‘discover’ new information, syncs it across multiple platforms (according to your colleagues’ use of it – iOS, Android, Windows, etc.), and a projects manager.
If you already have an Evernote account, the app automatically connects the two up. Currently, it costs USD 10 per user per month, and comes with full access to Evernote, Evernote Business and Evernote Premium, 2 GB for your Business Notebooks and 2 GB for the Personal ones. As implied, your Business Notebooks are shared while your Personal Notebooks are viewable only by you.
The real magic kicks in with the Business Library, where you can view all projects (listed as Notebooks) being undertaken by anyone on your business’ Evernote network. If you see something you like, you simply ‘Join’ it. If you are an administrator, you could curate a recommended list of notebooks to keep an eye on, too. To top this all off, there is an integrated search function so you do not lose your way.
Google’s suite of applications aimed at businessmen has taken to the cloud, and comes at half the price of Evernote Business — after a 30-day free trial. There are Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides, and Calendar to help streamline your workflow.
The new Google Hangouts also makes communication simpler, letting you loop in up to 10 employees who work remotely. Moreover, the company also provides some impeccable data back-up and cross-platform (Android, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows, all browsers) integration. The biggest advantage, of course, is that many — probably even you — have been using Google’s apps for a while now, and the interface is already familiar.
Flow is a toned-down version of Evernote Business and Google Apps, and stands out by providing a zen-like environment and a placid interface to work on. It provides all the simpler collaboration tools — nothing too fancy — synchronises your work, and stores all your data on the cloud so you can access it from wherever you want.
There is an activity log that lets users see when someone is assigned a task and when someone completes; initiating a project is easy — simply create a folder and add people to it; create lists within folders to include tasks and delegate them to your colleagues, via email if they don’t have a flow account. For starters, it costs USD 10 per user per month, with 30 per cent and 50 per cent discounts when you add three and ten people, respectively.