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Collaboration as a competitive advantage

Tools like Dropbox allow people to streamline workflows, and make collaboration a natural and intuitive part of their workflow.

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Dropbox believes that modern collaboration tools should help us to focus and do our best work, not distract and overwhelm us.

TO transform a workplace into an encompassing, collaborative environment, business owners need to use the right tools.

Reducing the amount of duplication between teams or people who need to work on the same document or project can be reduced by employing collaboration tools.

An example of collaboration tools is the ability for multiple teams to work on a single document online, edit in real time, and leave comments for others to see and follow up on - reducing time wastage.

Over an e-mail interview, Dropbox's head of solution architecture (Apac) Daniel Iversen showed how the company is making progress in providing business users options in collaborative workspaces, and how it has saved time for its users.

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Mr Iversen leads the Solution Architects at Dropbox across Apac, helping the company expand its Dropbox Business and Enterprise footprint across the region.

How can executives use collaboration tools to truly transform workplace performance?

Modern collaboration tools can transform workplace performance in multiple ways.

One way is through raw productivity improvements. Over the last few decades, the way we work has dramatically changed from "office work" to "knowledge work", and this shift is breaking down the traditional structures of time, location and teams.

Knowledge work enables people to work anywhere, anytime and across multiple teams. People are breaking down silos and pre-determined processes. Because the focus is on outcome rather than hours, the flow on effect is greater collaboration and creativity. Tools like Dropbox allow people to streamline workflows, and make collaborating with one another a natural and intuitive part of their workflow.

Secondly, modern collaboration tools can have a real impact on organisational culture and aid the transition to the new digital world, driven by fast-paced innovation and new ideas. Collaboration is key because it democratises knowledge, and lets ideas come from anyone and anywhere.

How will collaborative technologies boost productivity? What are examples of Dropbox's technology which enables this?

Dropbox is about helping individuals and teams unleash their creative energy by designing better ways of working together.

The transition to knowledge work comes with many opportunities - but not without its challenges.

Today's modern workplace is marred by 'busywork' and burnout. One study found that many office workers waste 60 per cent of their time on tasks like hunting for information in an inbox, answering e-mail, or coordinating with colleagues. We're all juggling between different apps, tools and devices that were meant to save us but have created endless distraction.

Dropbox believes that modern collaboration tools should help us to focus and do our best work, not distract and overwhelm us.

One of our latest products, Dropbox Paper, is a good example of this. It is a lightweight collaborative workspace that helps teams create and share early ideas.

Paper eliminates distractions that get in the way of creativity, with features like smart formatting, docs that easily convert to presentations, and automatic reminders. It has real-time editing features and task management tools, making it easier to run brainstorming sessions, hold meetings, and review work.

Paper is built for the digital age with a clean UI, no artificial margins or page breaks, and easily works with all types of content - from YouTube videos to code snippets and Pinterest boards - in one centralised place.

What are examples of companies that use Dropbox's collaboration tools, and how have they benefited?

One of our customers, a global sports apparel company that is using Dropbox to streamline its product development life cycle, is now bringing new products to market much quicker than before.

Another example is Australia's largest private construction company Built. By using Dropbox, the company has been able to mobilise cross-functional teams to respond to five times as many tenders than previously.

In Singapore, fast-growing molecular diagnostics company Asia Genomics uses Dropbox to manage highly technical teams from the lab to the finance department. The company runs clinical tests across South-East Asia and this data needs to be kept safe.

Dropbox has helped the teams in Asia Genomic work more seamlessly across different offices, and enhanced collaboration with external parties including doctors, patients, experts and other stakeholders.

What advantages are there in Dropbox's implementation of collaborative software?

Dropbox was originally built as a consumer product, which means our founders had a maniacal focus on two things: ease of use and user experience. Unlike the products built only for the corporate world, where use of the product is dictated top-down, adoption of consumer-led tools is driven by choice. Consumers' love for Dropbox led to its widespread use, and propelled the product into companies of all sizes as people started using Dropbox in their personal lives and as well as for work.

This led us to launching our business product in 2013, Dropbox Business, which maintains all the user-friendly features our users knew and loved, with additional features for business use such as chat support, admin controls, advanced sharing controls (viewer information and history, and the ability to share password-protected or expiring links), and security features (120-day version history, remote-wipe capabilities, two-factor authentication, and state-of-the-art storage and encryption technology).

Today, Dropbox Business is used in hundreds of thousands of businesses of all sizes around the world. Our unique marriage between ease of use for end-users, and security and control for the IT department, makes Dropbox the default collaboration tool of choice for individuals, teams and organisations.

Early and ongoing adoption lead to another key advantage - over the past 10 years, we've built one of the world's largest collaboration networks. Our more than 500 million users have created billions of collaboration connections between one another - so when an organisation adopts Dropbox, they enjoy the benefits of connecting to this large network.

Also, our product is platform-agnostic and open. Dropbox works across all devices, operating systems, applications and ecosystems. For many, Dropbox has become the connective tissue that binds together work across from different teams, devices and ecosystems.

We have integrations with many of the major ecosystems and apps that people use: Apple, Microsoft, Salesforce, Atlassian, Slack, Autodesk and many others. Through these integrations, we bring the concept of "team" and "collaboration" to these tools, bridging different ecosystems and putting the customer at the heart of collaboration by giving them choice and freedom.

To date, no other industry platform has a specific focus on innovating for content collaboration, and no other company has been committed to investing this heavily in building a world-class content collaboration platform.

How do you envision the increased use of collaboration tools for businesses that want to invest in productivity, and whether adoption will become more widespread?

For decades, the centrepiece of the productivity suite has pretty much been the word processor and e-mail, but these tools were created more than 30 years ago, when people were still writing letters and printing their work.

As the world continues to become more and more digital, mobile and connected, the future of work is moving accordingly, and we probably need a new kind of productivity suite.

While most companies have recognised this and have made some sort of investment in collaboration technologies, these investments can often times be non-strategic, dictated from the top and fragmented. As a result, adoption is low and the investment becomes redundant.

Collaboration tools that truly transform businesses are the ones that are embraced and adopted across the whole organisation through a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach. When a collaborative culture permeates an organisation, the way people work is truly transformed - people enjoy working together, there is co-creation and creativity flows freely. The world is changing rapidly and collaboration is the key to helping us solve the greatest challenges and ideate breakthrough thinking - together.

Could you give us an overview of Dropbox's business and how it has brought innovation to its enterprise customers to ensure they are well-served?

Ten years ago, our founders originally created Dropbox based on the idea of of it being a "safe home for all your most important stuff" which you could access anywhere, anytime with an Internet connection (this was before cloud was even a term).

But it soon became apparent that people were using Dropbox not only for storing files, but for sharing and collaborating with other people. As Dropbox was solving a bigger problem, our mission became about helping to simplify the way people work together.

Today, Dropbox isn't only a place to store your files. It's a living workspace where people and ideas come together. We are building tools that help teams find focus, stay in their flow, and unleash their creative energy.

At Dropbox, we believe creative energy is a precious resource - and the world needs it now more than ever.

It's not about working more, it's about focusing on the work that truly matters. That's why we build tools that automate the annoying parts of work, like Dropbox Smart Sync and version history, distraction-free places for teams to collaborate like Dropbox Paper, and features like Dropbox Showcase to present work a beautiful way.

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