The term "groupware" refers to specialized software applications that enable group members to share and sync information and also communicate with each other more easily.
Groupware can allow both geographically dispersed team members and a company's on-site workers to collaborate with each other through the use of computer networking technologies (i.e., via the Internet or over an internal network/intranet). As such, groupware is especially important for remote workers and professionals on the go, since they can collaborate with other team members virtually.
Somce common features provided in groupware solutions include:
- A centralized repository for documents and files that users can access and save to
- Document version management and change management
- Shared calendars and task management
- Web conferencing, instant messaging, message boards, and/or whiteboards
IBM's Lotus Notes (or Lotus Software per IBM's Lotus website) was one of the earliest collaboration software suites. Microsoft SharePoint is another major groupware solution that's well-established in large enterprises.
Both Lotus and Sharepoint are feature-rich, yet complex groupware solutions that are designed to be run and managed on internal servers, though the collaboration features may be accessed externally. With the advent of Web 2.0 (defined by About's Guide to Web Trends as "the move toward a more social, collaborative, interactive and responsive web"), however, the increasing emphasis for groupware has been for simpler online collaboration apps, and even SharePoint and Lotus are emphasizing cloud-based collaboration. Online collaboration apps aimed at small businesses and entrepreneurs include Basecamp, HyperOffice, and Huddle.