Brief-on online collaboration

Brief-on online collaboration

General

Online collaboration utilizes collaborative software to permit a gathering of individuals to cooperate with the goal of accomplishing a common objective. Collaboration has a big impact in the process that we learn. Particularly collaborative learning has proven highly influential in the areas of medical education and many other educational areas showing that when there is collaboration there is a higher chance for success. The fundamental requirement for online collaboration is a cloud service that will allow the team to use any tools at its disposal to achieve the best result possible. Cloud services, in whatever shape or form they come, provide either free or proprietary means for organizing, communicating, coordinating, sharing, arranging and planning in order to manage and complete project tasks.

Benefits of working on the cloud

Cloud computing adaptation is on the rise every year since business are realising the benefits that it offers. According to  (Bozicevic, 2018) these benefits can be summarised as:

  • Efficiency / cost reduction: Using cloud infrastructures means avoiding investing on buying and maintaining equipment, or space for that equipment or even IT support. Downtime and recovery costs are also eliminated.
  • Data Security: cloud services provide advanced security features guaranteeing secure storing and handling of company data.
  • Scalability: cloud based solutions can cater for every business size, type and needs. Growing or shrinking is easily achieved with no risk of operation disruption or issues about maintenance. Scalability is probably the greatest advantage of cloud services.
  • Mobility: no one is ever left out; with access (to corporate data) being made available to mobile devices (smartphones or otherwise). Resources can easily be stored, retrieved, recovered. Additionally, updates are automatic.
  • Disaster recovery: with cloud, you don’t have to worry if your equipment is malfunctioning or damaged and how will this affect access to data and operation. Uploading data on the cloud ensures availability and quick data recovery just in case something does go wrong.
  • Control: cloud providers, offer means for complete visibility and control of resources and data. Additionally, collaborative work will be easier and more efficient since a single copies of files are available and edited by anyone with proper access rights.
  • Competitive edge: moving to the cloud sooner rather than later gives you the competitive advantage of reaping all the benefits.

Risks of working on the cloud

In an ever-changing and volatile environment like the business world switching on to a cloud service does come with certain risks. With a lack of standardisation on the cloud (Adamov, 2009) and the threat of being a constant target, with reliability issues (Kaur, 2015) and risks (Turner, 2013), there exist potential problems. More recent articles by (Coles, 2020) (Architects, 2020) (Calyptrix, 2016)  identify the following risks:

  • Intellectual property loss or theft: Sensitive data can be compromised or stolen. Data might be related to the business, research and development or, and this is the worst case scenario, customer-related data.
  • Compliance violations and regulatory actions: service providers and companies have to be compliant with various standards. Failure to comply could have catastrophic effects on a business or its customers.
  • Security risks, unauthorised access to customer and business data, infections, attacks: data security should be a prime concern to a cloud provider.
  • Risks related to lack or loss of control over users’ actions, over performance, over quality: This relates to the fact that not everything is controllable (easily) when everything is on the cloud.
  • Disruption to business and customers in any of the above eventualities: which might entail loss of customer trust or even losing the client entirely.

Cloud service providers

As part of the be-com project, major players in the online free cloud-based services have been investigated. Primary focus was given to provision of potential services covering aspects relating to synchronization, file sharing, productivity, security, support and miscellaneous. Also certain requirements have been extracted from the Cyprus research team relating to educational aspects of online collaboration. In this research, four options were considered:

  • Google Drive: a file storage and synchronization service developed by Google. It allows users to store files on their servers, synchronize files across devices, and share files
  • Microsoft One Drive: a file hosting service and synchronization service operated by Microsoft as part of its web version of Office.
  • Jumpshare: a file sharing service which allows users to upload files. It uses a freemium business model: free accounts are offered with limited storage, while a paid subscription is available
  • Dropbox: a file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud, and client software

Download the brief-on online collaboration file which includes the text above as well as more details on the comparison of the service providers. (Note this pdf includes English and Greek text)