Online document sharing has been one of the key advances in business technology in recent years.
Colleagues can work on documents at the same time, in real time, even if they are not in the same office, which greatly speeds up workflow and has changed the geography of business teams.
You can upload presentations and photos, track changes on documents online, back up your work and share files through virtual folders. There are various options available online to help you share your documents.
Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) is a free file-hosting service that allows users to create a special folder on their computers which is then synchronised by Dropbox so that same folder can be viewed from any computer, or mobile device. There are several ways you can use this:
If a file is too big to email, then upload it onto your Dropbox folder and share it with the receipent. They can access the folder through Dropbox and download it directly.
If you want to work on files at home that are currently on your work computer, put them in your Dropbox folder and access them from your home computer.
Back up all your files and photos online — you are given 3GB of storage free, if you need extra you can upgrade your account for a fee.
If you’re ever stuck in the middle of a presentation and not sure what to say next or how to present the slide then look no further than Slideshare for ideas! SlideShare (www.slideshare.com) is the world’s largest community for sharing business presentations, PDFs and documents.
People can register and then upload their business content, either publicly or privately. These presentations and documents can then sometimes be downloaded depending on their restrictions, or just viewed online.
SlideShare content spreads virally through blogs and social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Many companies use Slideshare to generate leads – they post content, then follow up with users who have accessed their content or emailed for further information.
Slideshare has four options — free (unlimited uploads at maximum of 100MB and Zipcast web meetings which are public), Silver (US$19 per month), Gold (US$49 per month), and Platinum (US$249 per month) and a GoPro option.
Google Drive (http://drive.google.com) is a web-based office suite and data storage service. It allows users to create and edit documents ( Word, Powerpoint, Excel) whilst collaborating in real-time with other users.
You have 5GB of data storage for free so we recommend you make use of it. No matter what happens to your devices, your files are safely stored in Google Drive: There is nothing worse than that sinking feeling as you realise you’ve lost your data and there is no way you can get it back! So take the time and back up online as much as you can! One super nifty feature that is worth mentioning is that you can open up to 30 different types of files right in your browser — including HD video, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop — even if you don’t have the programme installed on your computer.
Like Google Drive, Zoho (www.zoho.com) offers a suite of applications to create online documents, spreadsheets and presentation plus databases, only that their sharing features are slightly better. Not only can you invite others to view and edit documents, but you can also create groups to make them easier to manage.
Zoho has gone one step further by aspiring to be a “one-stop source for small business applications” and includes access to many business applications — from CRM to Mail, Office Suite, Project Management, Invoicing and Web conferencing.
With Zoho, you can publish any document to your blog or website. In addition to that, a unique URL and RSS Feed are provided for every public document which is updated automatically whenever a change is made. You can also chat live with collaborators, making it easy to communicate while editing a document together in real-time.
Etherpad (http://etherpad.org) offers real-time editing and collaboration of plain text documents. It includes a mini chat room and shows each user’s edits with their own colour in real time.
The interface however is a little barebones and many common features we’ve grown accustomed to in office suites are missing, but we’ve included it as it is a good solution for basic brainstorming sessions for groups of people in real time.