Communication across collaborative partner members must be secured, provide a group discussion capability, must be low cost or free, they must be easy to use, and also, and probably most importantly, they must be secured.  These communication tools provide the basis for discussions between individual partners, or group discussions across partners.  Due to the potential needs and pervasive usage of these communication tools it makes the most sense to utilize a cloud based communication tool to quickly and efficiently provide a means to conversationally communicate across time zones and across company networks without compromising the integrity of the partner’s secured environment.

All of the communication tool requirements are important though in these times of identity theft and network hacking issues it is especially important that this communication tool provide a secured environment.  While the secured environment is important,it is also important to take procedural measures to protect the integrity of the communication.  At this point in time the security aspect of protecting identities and financial information should be second nature for people in the business world, however it is important to highlight the requirement to ensure the visibility.

After security I believe that group discussion capabilities and ease of use are the next most important capabilities of the tool.  There is essentially no need for a communication tool if it does not support group discussions in an easy to use manner.  There are many tools providing this capability and Evernote and Google Hangouts are two tools that I have found that support both capabilities.  There is another tool that I have found to be very useful as well; PushBullet.  PushBullet provides the communication, discussion group capabilities along with the ease of use, in addition the tool will ‘push’ the communications across any platform which you may be utilizing.  PushBullet installs on any platform and then when a message or update is sent to one platform it ‘pushes’ out to every client.  These tools all provide a free trial option as well as a subscription option for added features and more robust group communication and collaboration capabilities.   

Another important aspect to think about is the integration capabilities with other collaboration tools such as shared document management and maintenance along with group discussions and conferencing.  The key here is to think ahead a little bit and also to discuss and confirm requirements and objectives with the community to ensure the tool will fit the needs.  As always, never select a tool simply because it has a flashy interface or a big name in the industry.  Most of the tools on the market now have started in one niche and are expanding into other areas of collaboration.  Remember, the great factor is the free trial so you can kick the tires before spending money.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?