Content collaboration platforms enable organizations and their employees to manage their files, streamline processes and maintain a smooth workflow from conception to delivery.
Over the last couple of years, content collaboration software has gone from nice-to-have to absolutely must-have in technology stacks. Driven by an abrupt shift to remote work in 2020, wider acceptance of hybrid and remote work environments, and the addition of social software as a feature, the market is expected to experience rapid growth.
What is content collaboration software?
Content collaboration software helps teams to upload and organize content, facilitate file sharing and perform simultaneous workflows. It's typically cloud-based and supports project management, workflows, information management, analytics and version control.
Features to look for in content collaboration software
Most content collaboration platforms share similar features, such as the ability to upload and share documents, annotate documents, chat and leave comments. Modern tools also have expanded to include mobile apps for iOS and Android devices and APIs to integrate with third-party extensions and software. The critical features organizations should consider when choosing content collaboration software include the following:
- Real-time editing and commenting. Regardless of physical location, multiple individuals can work on a document simultaneously, streamlining workflows and improving efficiency for deliverables.
- Version control. If someone accidentally deletes important information in a document, version control allows users to restore previous versions. Some content collaboration platforms also include the ability to track who made changes so users can easily discuss any changes.
- Security. While some industries, such as healthcare and finance, are tightly bound by regulators to protect data, every organization must consider security when choosing a content collaboration platform. The security features can include encryption, multifactor authentication and role-based access to minimize damage if a user's credentials are compromised.
- Integration with other tools. Usually accomplished with APIs, integration can enable organizations to connect their systems to help improve processes.
Top enterprise content collaboration platforms
While there are many content collaboration platforms to choose from, the choice depends on the organization's needs. For example, a company may be more interested in a platform that has strong project management or security features to protect highly regulated and sensitive data.
Ten enterprise content collaboration platforms have risen to the forefront of the industry as the most popular based on several professional and user reviews.
1. Google Drive
Google Drive is a cloud-based component of Google Workspace that allows users to collaborate on projects using tools from Google's app suite -- Docs, Sheets and Slides -- and other file types like Word documents, PDF files, CAD files or images. Users can leave comments, tag other users and search using Google's technology to find files.
Individual users have My Drive, which lets the owner choose who to share files with. Alternatively, a project manager or designated employee manages the shared drive and determines the content recipients and their access levels.
Users from Capterra say that Google Drive integrates well with other applications, is easy to use for real-time collaboration and provides good customization options. Still, some have reported that Google Drive needs better encryption, and that version control can be tricky.
Google Workspace starts at $6 per user, per month for the Business Starter plan.
While best known for its file storage capabilities, Dropbox is also a content collaboration platform. It supports integration with tools such as Zoom and Slack, includes project management functions such as assigning tasks and creating workflows, and allows for annotations on documents -- whether they are PDF, Microsoft Office or image files.
Regular Dropbox users cite its strong security and search features, while some caution that it also has long sync and update times and that customizing the workspace is difficult.
Pricing starts at $15 per user, per month for the Standard team option.
Box is a cloud platform that enables file sharing and collaboration through user-created workflows and project management tools, including tagging other users and annotating documents. Like Dropbox, Box also has integrations with more than 1,500 apps and offers a developer platform for custom integration.
Through a partnership with Adobe, Box provides users with PDF tools that include creating and adding electronic signatures to PDFs, enabling users to complete more tasks within Box rather than switching between browsers. However, Box doesn't include end-to-end encryption, and the time to upload files can be slow.
Pricing for the introductory Business plan currently starts at $15 per user, per month with a minimum of three users.
4. Microsoft 365 and OneDrive
Microsoft 365 is a suite of productivity applications that includes OneDrive, a Microsoft cloud storage service with file-sharing capabilities. Through Microsoft 365, users can share and collaborate on files inside and outside their organizations, while OneDrive offers access control, real-time data synchronization and version control.
Unsurprisingly, OneDrive integrates well with other Microsoft 365 products, allowing users to edit documents in real time and receive automatic notifications about changes even if they have logged out of the portal. Google Android and Apple iOS users can also access content via mobile apps, helping users continue working on documents, regardless of where they are.
Users can generate links to content they send through email or the OneDrive menu. These links are convenient but can also be a security liability. To combat these concerns, Microsoft allows owners to expire links after a specified amount of time and retract links to avoid long-term access.
Microsoft 365 with OneDrive starts at $6 per user, per month.
5. Zoho WorkDrive
Zoho WorkDrive is another content collaboration platform that includes a suite of productivity apps -- Writer, Sheet and Show. The platform supports offline work, with any changes syncing to the team folders as soon as there is internet access. Users can set permissions by role and control who can view or download files.
User reviews often cite Zoho WorkDrive as a good alternative to Google Drive and praise its integration with other Zoho products. However, some user reviews mention that file uploads can take a long time and that customer support isn't as responsive as they'd like.
Pricing for the Starter option is $2.50 per user per, month for three users.
6. Citrix ShareFile
Citrix ShareFile allows users to create workflows, co-edit documents, collect real-time feedback and gather e-signatures. The platform can restrict documents to view-only and provides click trails so that users can see who was in the document when.
According to users, it's relatively easy to integrate with Microsoft products and collaborate outside the organization. But Citrix ShareFile doesn't integrate well with non-Microsoft products, and some users indicate that support can be slow to respond.
Pricing for the Standard tier is $50 per month for five users, with an additional $9.90 per extra user.
Bitrix24 combines tools like customer relationship management, file storage, kanban boards, workflow automation and document sharing into its content collaboration platform. Bitrix24 Drive supports third-party integrations with other tools such as Box, Dropbox and Google Drive, allowing real-time editing and collaboration.
The most given strength of Bitrix24 is its project management tools, and using it has made it easier for some to communicate internally. However, others caution that the user experience is difficult, particularly because some tools are hard to find.
The Basic plan for Bitrix24 is $49 per month for five users, but a free option exists with a limited tool set and a reduced online storage capacity.
Promoted as a knowledge sharing platform, BoostHQ has the hallmark tools and features of a content collaboration platform. Its tool set includes file and content sharing, the ability to organize content based on customized groups, categories and tags and an online learning community that lets users start discussions and upvote comments on a piece of uploaded content. Users call out its integration with Google Docs and its Chrome browser extension that lets users share web content with teammates.
Users on Capterra acknowledge the platform's shortcomings in accessing content offline and that the Q&A feature isn't mobile-friendly.
Pricing for the Lite, Professional and Enterprise plans is available upon request.
9. Amazon WorkDocs
Amazon WorkDocs is a content collaboration platform that provides version control, comments, notifications and the ability to request feedback from other collaborators. It integrates with Microsoft Office for editing and uses Hancom Office Online to enable real-time file creation and editing.
While the platform offers several key features, many reviews on Gartner and G2 caution that when using the desktop app, the cloud version may crash, creating conflicting versions of files.
Amazon WorkDocs pricing depends on the number of active users and the region. According to AWS, though, WorkDocs costs $5 per user, per month in most areas.
10. Egress Secure File Sharing and Collaboration
Egress Secure File Sharing and Collaboration allows users to set up secure workspaces and create secure zones to organize content. It provides real-time file editing and annotation and enables system administrators to set retention policies. Egress also tracks all admin activity and creates audit logs.
Customer testimonials from Gartner and Capterra say Egress provides a seamless installation, is easy to use, and users are impressed with the level of security. Other users caution that the interface can feel outdated, and the platform is a little slow on startup.
Pricing is available upon request.