From secure file sharing to real-time document editing, cloud platforms offer a variety of features to make collaboration easier among teams across the office and around the globe.
In this blog, we bring you the ultimate list of the 21 best capabilities and features of cloud collaboration tools. Use this guide to understand what you need to look for in a cloud-based collaboration software — or to make the most of the product you already have.
1. Scalable storage in the cloud
Scalable data storage refers to the capacity of your cloud collaboration platform to easily and dynamically expand its infrastructure as the needs of users and data grow over time. This way, you accommodate increasing volumes of content in a secure vault — without disruption or the need for frequent manual adjustments. Cost efficiency is another benefit. With resources allocated on demand, you reduce wasted storage and infrastructure expenses.
2. Easy and secure file sharing
Enterprise file sharing is the process of transferring documents or data from one business user or location to another. Making it easier and safer for teams to access resources and exchange information is a cornerstone of effective collaborative work.
3. Real-time editing
This cloud collaboration feature enables multiple users to concurrently make live edits, additions, or revisions to a document, spreadsheet, or other digital content.
By making changes visible to all collaborators in real time, document cloud services facilitate instantaneous and synchronized teamwork, eliminating the need to wait for one team member to finish their part before another begins. No wonder 39% of respondents to the State of Collaboration Survey say the ability to work on the same project simultaneously is the most important feature of a successful collaboration tool.
4. Version control
Version control of documents allows users to track, manage, and organize the different iterations or revisions of a file as it undergoes changes over time. By preserving a comprehensive history of document modifications, it’s easier to review, compare, and revert to previous versions if necessary — maintaining document integrity and preventing data loss.
5. Integrated communication
Features that allow users to have real-time discussions, provide feedback, and share information directly within a content asset improve collaboration. If you’re able, for example, to leave a comment inside a document, you eliminate the need for external communication tools and email exchanges. You centralize the review process in one place and save time.
Pre-designed, customizable templates for common types of documents, projects, or workflows boost productivity. You know exactly where to start and even reduce the chances of errors or omissions. And more: templates ensure that all materials adhere to the same guidelines and look consistent.
Having the ability to sign documents and records electronically streamlines the document approval and signing process. E-signatures eliminate the need for physical paperwork, enabling remote and efficient collaboration on documents, contracts, and agreements. This feature not only saves time and reduces administrative burdens but also enhances the security and legal validity of signed documents.
8. Task management, automated workflows, and notifications
Project management features within cloud-based collaboration tools help teams plan, organize, track, and execute tasks and workflows efficiently. With automated workflows, events can trigger actions, such as automatically routing a document for signature.
You also leverage automatic notifications — alerts or messages generated to inform users about activities within the platform, such as new messages, document edits, and task assignments. So everyone stays on top of changes, enhancing productivity and accountability.
9. AI and search functionalities
Search capabilities make it easier and quicker to locate files, messages, and historical data within the collaboration tool. When you simplify information retrieval, you reduce the frustration of locating documents, increase productivity, and accelerate decision making.
With the use of artificial intelligence (AI), you skyrocket your efficiency even more. Let’s say you have to draft a sales email or summarize a lengthy document to uncover key data quickly. AI-powered cloud platforms are able to analyze data patterns, suggest personalized email content, and provide rapid document summarization. You free up your time and unlock the value of all your content.
10. Integration with your software stack
Integrations with other business apps, such as Slack, Zoom, Salesforce, and Office 365, enable you to consolidate your workflows and access all relevant tools and data from a single platform. On average, a typical employee uses 14 software applications, 21 online tools, and 13 back-office systems to accomplish daily tasks. All this time spent switching between apps is a top barrier to productivity, per 43% of employees in a Box-sponsored IDC study.
Looking to future-proof your tech stack? Download our ebook and learn how to leverage the best-of-breed integrations.
11. Analytics and reporting
With analytics and reporting features, you have access to usage statistics and insights into collaboration patterns — key to data-driven decision making. For example, you’re able to:
- Monitor file previews, users, and downloads to understand when and how teams use their content
- Run a report on shared links, active legal holds, security logs, and more
12. Multichannel accessibility
Multichannel accessibility refers to the capability of cloud collaboration solutions to be accessible and functional across a variety of device channels, including web browsers, mobile apps, and desktop applications. This way, you’re able to collaborate on the go, which is especially important with the rise of remote work.
13. Offline access
With the ability to work on documents even when an internet connection is unavailable, teams view and edit documents while traveling, during network outages, or in areas with limited connectivity. This feature ensures continuous productivity and collaboration. With automatic synchronization, all changes made while offline are incorporated into the collaborative environment once a connection is reestablished.
14. Admin controls
Comprehensive IT controls let you monitor and optimize how your teams collaborate. With enterprise mobile management, for example, organizations manage and protect mobile devices, applications, and data used by their employees. Centrally managing global security and access ensures your content stays secure and you’re compliant.
15. Role-based access control
Granular access control allows administrators to specify precisely who has access to what resources and what actions they can perform. In a cloud collaboration technology tool, this feature is crucial to tailor access privileges to individual users or groups, reducing the risk of unauthorized exposure, breaches, and data loss.
16. Single sign-on (SSO)
This centralized authentication process allows you to access multiple applications or services with a single set of login credentials. Only having to remember one username and password reduces the risk of password fatigue and simplifies the login process. It’s important to have SSO to streamline user experience, enhance security, and improve productivity.
17. Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
About half of breaches involve stolen credentials, per the 2023 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. With MFA, you add an extra security layer, helping reduce the risk of unauthorized access and potential breaches.
This security method requires users to provide two or more authentication factors, such as things they:
- Know (like a password)
- Have (like a smartphone or security token)
- Are (like a fingerprint or facial recognition)
By encrypting data at rest and in transit, a cloud-based collaboration tool makes your content virtually unreadable to anyone without the proper authorization. File encryption safeguards against breaches and maintains user trust in the security of the platform.
19. Threat protection
Your cloud collaboration software should scan content for malware, viruses, and other threats, mitigating the risk of breaches and cyberattacks. It should also help you identify regulated and proprietary information when content is uploaded, shared, and edited. Classifying your data makes it easier to control access and shield data from threats, streamlining compliance with industry regulations and privacy laws.
20. Data residency
Data residency refers to the physical or geographical location where the data is stored, processed, and managed within a cloud service or infrastructure. It’s critical to ensure compliance, particularly in situations where you’re required to store data within specific regions. With a cloud-based tool that helps you address regional and country-specific privacy concerns, you’re able to store your data in the geographic region of your choice.
21. Retention policies
Retention policies determine how long specific types of data or documents should be retained and when they should be disposed of or archived. By automatically enforcing data retention policies, your online collaboration software helps you avoid legal risks and financial penalties associated with improper data management.
Explore all the benefits of cloud collaboration with our in-depth post.
Get the best cloud features with Box
The Content Cloud makes teamwork easier. With a centralized platform to create, store, share, and work on files, you get the best capabilities and features of cloud-based collaboration tools.
From cloud storage to workflow automation, Box simplifies the way you work while keeping cyber threats at bay. Plus, we offer enterprise-grade security and compliance features to protect the flow of information: suspicious user activity alerts, encryption, granular access control, device trust, SSO, MFA, audit logs, ransomware detection, and much more.
Ready to leverage the best features of cloud collaboration tools? Contact us — and learn all you can do with Box.
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**While we maintain our steadfast commitment to offering products and services with best-in-class privacy, security, and compliance, the information provided in this blog post is not intended to constitute legal advice. We strongly encourage prospective and current customers to perform their own due diligence when assessing compliance with applicable laws.