Recommended apps and tools for business communication and file sharing

April 13th, 2019 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Aaron O'Keeffe

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There is a wealth of tools that businesses can now leverage to improve communication, enable real-time collaboration, share files, and generally make the office a more efficient place to work. A savvy business takes full advantage of these tools, and is constantly on the lookout for new ways to modernise their internal operations.

With such variety available, businesses need to know what each tool can do for them, and the benefit that it will return back to the organisation. Chances are that you’ll leverage a mix of the below, depending on the nature of your business, and the projects that you’re undertaking.

Document/file sharing programs and apps

Google Drive

Google Drive offers a complete business package all within one easy-to-use hub. Basically, it provides raw storage space (15GB free, but very cheap to increase), and a series of productivity applications that allow your entire team to collaborate and work on them together in real-time.

It comes paired with the entire Google suite; docs, sheets, photos, slides, forms, and a bunch more to suit just about any kind of office space. You can work simultaneously on a document with a co-worker, with the ability to see what sections they’re working on, as well as see it update in real time. This is particularly useful if you’re working with someone remotely, because being able to see what each of you are doing to documents is important in maintaining version control and limiting confusion about the state that the drafts are in.

Dropbox

Dropbox is another large file sharing service. The main advantage of Dropbox is in its synchronisation ability – every time you save a document on your computer it is automatically backed up and saved to the Dropbox. That way, if something should go wrong, you’ve got a backup that can be accessed from anywhere.

It’s also easy to set up group folders and share links for easy collaboration. Due to Dropbox being used in so many workplaces, there are a lot of third party apps that seamlessly integrate with Dropbox. This means that it can become a “hub” and online storage hard drive for your entire operation.

Front

Front is simple; it synchronises inboxes to simplify and organise company emails. It makes internal and external communications a lot easier to deal with, and can sync not only emails, but also certain social media sites like Twitter.

Front differentiates itself from other chat services in that it syncs with your actual email rather than relying upon its own services. Contrasted against other chat programs such as Slack, it’s a bit more formal, but it leaves a corporate papertrail (always handy) and keeps your work accounts formal and professional.

AirDroid

If you’re using Android devices, AirDroid is an easy file sharing alternative that’s designed for mobile and tablet devices. It might not be as multi-purpose as some other options, but it’s straightforward set-up makes it perfect for the dynamic workplace.

AirDroid allows you to effortlessly transfer files, photos, documents, music or APKs from one device to the next without needing to physically connect them with cables. If you’re using mobile phones, tablets and PCs in your office, having access to the AirDroid app is a clever way of minimising disruption from starting a project on one device before needing to move it to another to continue working on it, or sharing it with a co-worker.

Communication apps

Slack

Slack is a handy chat and message archiving service. It started off as a tiny dev tool in a video game, but ended up being so efficient that they decided to scrap the game and progress with the chat tool!

Basically, Slack may limit the potential for confusion that can happen over email. You set up a series of “channels” for each work project, and then everyone who is on that project can leave messages, attach files, and so on within the channel. Because everyone can see every message, and refer back to previous messages, this is a useful collaboration tool for ensuring everyone’s on the same page.

Discord

Discord can be seen as an alternative to Slack in the way that it has been designed. It also splits work groups by subject and allows for the sharing of files and for the “flow” of the discussion to be recorded like a chat log, but Discord has some slightly different areas of priority that help to boost it.

Firstly, there’s a stronger effort put into voice communication, which allows you to easily chat verbally with one another from within the app. It’s also much easier to invite large groups of people to the Discord server, meaning that you can use it for a way of interacting with both your customers and your internal teams.

SuperBeam

We live in a huge country, and it can sometimes be extremely hard for country businesses to operate, communicate and collaborate due to poor internet services. There are several places the nbn™ hasn’t reached yet, and anyone travelling long distances or between cities is bound to hit a few areas where their connection dies on them.

SuperBeam allows you to quickly pair devices, and encode files in a simple QR code format for later access, so you can keep working on a project even when your internet service fails.

Skype

If you work remotely or have employees or customers that require remote interfacing, Skype is the most simple voice and video chat service on the market. It’s owned by Microsoft, who do a pretty good job at keeping it up to date and running smoothly.

Skype has the capacity to facilitate group chats, send files, run video, as well as one-on-one text communication. We wouldn’t advise using it as a primary communication device, but if you need video chat or to make an international call, it’ll do just fine.

GoToMeeting

If Skype is good for quick video communication, GoToMeeting is your upmarket tool for HD video conferencing when video quality matters. Boasting a range of professional tools and conference options, GoToMeeting is an extremely versatile, simple program that’ll help you liaise with potential clients and host internal communications with great service and clear visuals.

Project management and customer management tools

Wrike

Wrike works best in conjunction with some of the other tools in this list. It’s important to have communication tools, but it’s equally important to translate this into project management capabilities – which is exactly what Wrike does.

Wrike acts through your own messaging app, and ties tasks to people as they’re set. It’s handy for translating communication into action, and tying people to specific functions.

Basecamp

Basecamp’s greatest strength is that it allows businesses to interact with their customers online, without one customer seeing the work with another. It works like this: You set your staff up with Basecamp, and then give each client access to a different workgroup. Clients can upload files, leave comments, and so on, and staff can interact with the client and share files in return, without a different client seeing any of it.

So many workplace productivity tools are focused on storage and file-sharing within the organisation. It’s useful to have one that you can use when collaborating with a customer.

Freshdesk

Every organisation needs a support channel, where customers can leave messages and interact with your team. Some will prefer to get on the phone, of course, but for others, having a web portal where they can have their questions and concerns addressed is essential.

With Freshdesk, a customer opens a “ticket” which a support agent can immediately see and address. It’s possible to set up instant replies for common questions, and share attachments and files if necessary. When finished, the ticket can be closed, and the customer can rate the interaction, giving you an idea of how effective your support system is.

Evernote

Evernote started out life as a simple app that allowed people to jot down quick ideas when they occurred to them and access them at a later date. It has since expanded to a full productivity solution, including file sharing and storage, and is now aimed at teams that want to collaborate and share ideas easily.

One of Evernote’s greatest features is that it can save almost everything. From little notes created on phones, through to the ability to take photos of physical documents and instantly store them, or create copies of entire webpages for future reference. Evernote’s focus makes it the ideal resource for organisations that do a lot of brainstorming and research.

Choose the right tools for your business

Every productivity, communication, and storage application has its unique focus and intent. Finding the right mix for your organisation will likely improve productivity, so have a good think about how your business works with data, how your internal teams collaborate, and how you communicate with your customers. From there you’ll be able to work out the right tools for your business.

The key item each of these tools and apps have in common is the requirement for an internet connection to get work completed. That’s why it’s so essential that you choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP) who can give you an internet connection to suit your business. To discuss what services your business needs, contact our expert team here.

About the author

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron works from an office in the tropical Northern Territory, inciting intense jealousy from his Victorian workmates during winter. He’s an expert in IT solutions from the ground up. Aaron is National Sales Manager of Aussie Broadband, which specialises in bespoke telco solutions for corporate and government customers.