Communication VS Collaboration

The argument

There has been an argument we’ve been trying to answer at Groupmates for a while now. The argument in question is what does a communication online tool offer and what does a collaboration online tool offer?

Communication VS Collaboration

When someone simply asks what is communication or what is collaboration, the answer is very simple. The two definitions:

Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.

Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce something.

But after defining a concept, we need to actually create the tools necessary for people to use based on the concept.

Groupmates VS others

In order to understand our differences with our competition, we had to first understand what is the aim (or the aims) of our competitors’ technologies. It turns out that most of them [competitors] are developing tools, amazing technologies which allow their users to communicate in different forms. It could be through instant messages, video or voice communication, through exchanging documents or more. No matter where we looked, the main element was communication.

At Groupmates it has been clear since we started in July 2014 that our main objective is collaboration and that should remain in our technology’s core. But knowing what you want to achieve is the first element. Then you need to figure out how to achieve it, and finally making sure that people or specific segments of people need it.

What do we know?

Today we are certain that students in higher education need proper collaboration environments. How do we know? Simple, we asked them.

We also started asking several business owners and employees from different business types and sizes, about their challenges when it comes to collaboration. They all say that there are many ways for their teams to communicate, but there are messages that are forgotten, or tasks that remain unfinished, and lots of mistakes that cost to their businesses money; money they could save if they could avoid basic misunderstandings.

We are not the first to figure that out though, some lovely people at Cognisco, a company that specializes in different areas of human resources, undertook a research about 7 years ago, with the aim to figure out the real costs behind employees misunderstanding. A screenshot of the research findings is going to give you the message.

$37B wasted every year!

 

The saddest thing is that most businesses don’t even realize that the problem exists before we actually ask them a couple of questions which lead them to the realization of the problem.

How do we make sure that you collaborate on Groupmates?

In order to make sure that Groupmates is developed and designed with collaboration in its core we had to go back to the basics and give a more complete definition to collaboration; a definition that we could then take and make it into a feasible product.

With communication being an essential element of collaboration, we make clear that for collaboration to take place, a team/group of people needs to have a clear common goal in mind. Each group member, also needs to have access to the right information at any time they may need it. The right information will help the groupmates to start conversations with the right people, take decisions with confidence and more.

To make sure that we make this happen, we need to ask the right questions and also make it super easy for the users. Easy to use is essential, as for collaboration to happen online, every member of the group should be using the same tool, otherwise is useless.

Asking the right questions could be tricky. For this reason we are currently working with a scientist who helps us understand how groups of people work together more effectively in theory. Then we take this theory and we try to understand it in a more practical manner. After we really understand the theory, we design a function. When the function is designed, is necessary that we ask current and potential users of what they think about it. Then we try to develop it.

There is no part of our development process that is easy to do. In order to do it right, we need a lot of work. From now on, I will try to post some of my understandings on how groups work according to cognitive science, biology, philosophy of mind, psychology and more sciences. I will also try to include findings from my conversations with different institutions and explain to the few readers of this blog how we may make use of these understandings and findings. I won’t share any information about new tools that our team at Groupmates or what it may be disclosed information for safety reasons.

 

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Can’t choose? Just ask!

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How many times a day you find yourself in a dilemma? Our days are full of choices. Some times simple choices, such as, choosing what to wear or what song to listen to can be difficult. The reason? Unknown to me, but I’d say because we are humans, simple really.

In the professional world choices are more important than what to eat. Many people spend lots of time and energy, trying to make the best purchase decision, or the best suitable time to drink coffee so they don’t fall asleep during their meeting (just saying). Continue reading

Less Problems, More Challenges

A while back I promised to a friend that I’ll write something about the challenge she took to design a Dracula Untold cover. I didn’t want to write just about the challenge though. I wanted to give an extra reason for the readers to read. So around 2 months later I came up with this post.

So many problems at work, please help!

There are many companies in the world, all creating or selling all kinds of products and services. The competition in more industries is cruel and tough and bla bla bla bla bla bla bla..

The introduction is something that a marketing, a business, and a management professional will read in many many books during their time at uni. You will also listen to this statement from your “colleagues” on a daily basis (most likely). You could choose a different point of view to the “problems” that your company faces because of cruel competition. The reason I put “problems” into a pair of quotation marks is because, while most people choose to see them as “problems” others, including myself choose to see them as “CHALLENGES”.

I’ve noticed that ever since I started thinking of my “problems” as just “challenges” I became more productive. When I am facing a difficult situation instead of getting stressed up, I say to myself “challenge accepted”, then I start being creative. Continue reading

Financial forecasting for your start-up

My rooms state while I forecast

My rooms state while I forecast

Have you ever had to do financial forecasting for a company that hasn’t started trading yet?

I am doing a four year financial forecasting for my start-up for like the 10th time in the last 4 months. I never seem to be happy about it, I always think I am missing things, and well, I choose to do it again and again until I get it right!

Problem is that Groupmates is on a prototype stage now and its 0.2 version is due to launch on Christmas day (I consider this as our CTO’s present for the whole team), but as you may know if you’ve ever tried to create a software product, you can’t make any revenues during the first 6-8 months (realistically speaking).

So I just finished forecasting for the first 2 years (after 9 hours of work), and I decided to write about it during my small break. I feel more confident about this forecasting as I came to understand and know how to do it “right” (or at-least I hope I came to understand it), between meetings with angel investors, business advisers and books.

Many start-ups will have to make a financial forecasting at one stage of the business (most likely at many stages of the business), especially when they need to raise cash, so I hope this post gives you a starting point on the basic way of thinking at-least when you can’t be sure as you haven’t had a pilot yet or you haven’t had any customers yet. Continue reading