Every company wants to be more productive and maximize profit and to do so, many of them use large-scale productivity suites and apps. But what if I told you the key to productivity was not using a tech giant, but rather, receiving personalized support from a smaller company that can provide you with dedicated resources? But Julia, you say, I love how Dropbox/Evernote/Asana/etc. has increased my team’s productivity! Automation! Isn’t involving extra humans an unnecessary step? Respectfully, no.

Let’s run some numbers real quick. The collaboration software industry was valued at $7 billion in 2015, and a quick Google search of “best online platform for collaboration” will give you about 148,000,000 results. Page one alone provides lovely articles of the best 5, 14, 18, or 47 collaboration tools. Can you honestly say your team is using the best software out there?

A quick rundown of the top five platforms reveals no surprises: Slack, Asana, Podio, Ryver, and Trello are all highly useful communication, file sharing, and/or project management tools. They offer integration with Evernote, Dropbox, Gmail, and GitHub, among others. What one software can’t do, another can, which makes your job more difficult when selecting the best fit for your team.

For example, I highly recommend Evernote and Scanbot for everyday organization. Evernote syncs across several devices, and I can organize my notes quickly and effortlessly. When I need to PDF a document without access to a scanner, I turn to Scanbot, which converts images to PDFs AND it can send them to Evernote.

Surprisingly, I have seen Facebook used successfully for business collaboration. It offers file storage, post-monitoring, member management, group analytics, and more. It was named as one of the top ten global players in Orbis Research’s assessment of Global Enterprise Collaboration Software Market Size, Status and Forecast 2022 published this past July. However, even Facebook recognizes that its size hinders its ability to cater to individual customers’ needs.

This past summer Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook would shift to supporting its “most active” users. This is great news for the already active communities, but what will happen when less active groups need support? Facebook may offer useful features, but if your smaller group needs help, I am not confident you would receive the support you need. Sadly, it sounds like Facebook has also reached that same conclusion with its announcement. It will be interesting to see if larger companies like Facebook, Microsoft, or IBM can keep up with their customer needs. It’s likely that businesses may find it beneficial to seek a different collaboration platform and receive a more personalized experience.

Smaller companies, on the other hand, can give you the personalized service required for success. According to Fortune, specialized firms avoid getting siloed, thrive with innovation, possess the localized knowledge, and spend more time listening to customers. They are able to create software that contains only the features you need and avoids those you don’t. Rather than choosing myriad platforms because of specific features in each, boutique firms can provide solutions catered to your needs, all in one platform. Do you like Evernote’s information storage system but wish its chat feature was closer to Slack? Even Evernote says its WorkChat “wasn’t designed to replace other chat apps.”

The beauty of a personalized system is that combining different features is possible and highly encouraged. In fact, it’s the essence of these companies’ business models. At the end of the day, you can confidently say you’re using the best software when it is one you’ve designed which easily fits into your workflow. You will be increasing productivity and ultimately your bottom line because your team is on the same page and has all the tools it needs in one place.

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