2.1 Explaining the features, benefits and limitations of different Collaborative Technologies

Collaborative technologies enable two or more people to work together to accomplish a task without face-to-face interaction. There are many different examples of collaborative IT tools and devices utilised for work equipped with different features, benefits and limitations.

Email client software, such as Microsoft Outlook, is an essential part to the running of many organisations. Email clients allow the user to send, receive and organise emails. Nowadays this type of software is multipurpose and can include features such as calendars and task managers. Email clients offer the benefit of being able to communicate with anyone across the world as long as you have their email address and an internet connection. Additionally, emailing is a form of instant communication so any issues or concerns can be raised and dealt with immediately. However it can be easy to send confidential data to the wrong person with a simple grammatical error in the email address, this can cause endless repercussions and risks breaching Data Protection regulations. Emails are infamous for being targeted by scammers who send phishing emails in the attempt to obtain personal information typically by impersonating a trustworthy identity.

Social media encompasses any platform which facilitates the creation and sharing of information. Facebook and Twitter are some popular examples of social media platforms. Social media platforms typically allow you to publish different forms of media from text to photos to videos, which other users are able to provide feedback on. Usually the sign up to social media is free, so the service is accessible by many people. Depending on the platform, the posts may be viewed by someone other than the anticipated recipient(s) due to confusing or misleading privacy settings. Some people could take advantage of this and steal another person’s work, whether it’s an image or a news story and repost it claiming that it’s their own original creation. Another issue with social media is that it’s very easy to pretend to be someone else, so you can’t always be certain that who you’re talking to is who they say they are.

Most large organisations will have created an internal shared network to save documents and images. This set up allows a department to access documents created by another person, this is essential in case someone is on holiday or ill so that important documents can still be accessed. Depending on access rights, multiple users will be able to edit on the same document. However the drawback to this is that internal shared networks are limited in that only one user can have a document open and be working on it at any time, otherwise errors occur. Moreover if one computer connected in a network got a virus, all of the other computers on the network would be vulnerable to attack. In the worst case scenario an entire organisation’s private information could be stolen or corrupted.

Video calling software can be pivotal to companies who have dealings with other companies based far away or even abroad. Software like Skype or FaceTime can save lots of time, which would otherwise be spent travelling, and therefore increases the productivity of a company as important business conferences can be done from the comfort of their own office. Skype in particular is very useful as it allows for documents to be exchanged as well as offering the ability to screen share. Video calling relies on a strong internet connection as well as a high quality webcam and microphone to make the conversation clear, which can be very expensive. Even if a business if kitted out with high-end equipment, external unpredictable factors such as the weather can ruin a video call’s quality and cause delays during the meeting.

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