Archive for April, 2010

SharePoint 2010 and Growing Businesses

ms2010It is usual for all Microsoft launches to be associated with a lot of hoopla and fanfare. A similar scene precedes the soon to come Microsoft launch of its 2010 series – SharePoint 2010, Exchange 2010 and Office 2010. A recent report on SharePoint 2010 by Forrester cut through the talk and came out with a rather strong conclusion – SharePoint 2010 may be overkill for some.

The exact phrasing of that conclusion evoked a kind of sense of deja vu here at HyperOffice. Isn’t it what we have been saying for SharePoint for years?

First, the report.

The new version of SharePoint has greatly bolstered its cloud capabilities and web 2.0 features, areas in which SharePoint was traditionally lagging.

According to Rob Koplowitz, a principal analyst at Forrester and author of the report, SharePoint 2010 is “evolving  SharePoint beyond its server application role to become a full-fledged platform reaching from the intranet to the cloud and out onto developers’ palettes.”

Sounds great?

Well, not if you are not looking for an application development platform, but looking for a set of tools, which will allow distributed teams to collaborate and work better.

Rob advices that new users should evaluate the software’s feature set and make sure it is not overkill. He says that SharePoint 2010 “can be a hammer, but not everything is nail.” He concludes that SharePoint 2010 is likely not a fit for those with basic needs.

This applies especially to growing businesses, which don’t have a complex technological landscape, have a small or no IT department, and need to enable their teams without going to through long and winding learning curves. They need a plug and play toolkit which helps them work together better (file storage and collaboration, wikis, intranet workspaces, task management, online meetings etc), as well as tools to help improve productivity (shared calendars, address books, email, to-do lists, email, mobile access to corporate data etc). At the same time, these companies need a certain degree of customization, which they can easily accomplish without much expertise.

HyperOffice’s web based total collaboration software approach suits this segment perfectly, which is why we have been positioning ourselves for this segment for years as a “Sharepoint Alternative” for growing businesses.

Although SharePoint 2010 is a lot more web savvy than its predecessor, its target audience seems to remain the same – large enterprises with a complex technological context and highly customized needs.  Some other basics of the solution remain the same that make it unsuitable for growing businesses – it’s server based, complex, and more an IT department tool than an end user tool.

HyperOffice Makes Deeper Inroads into Global Collaboration Software Markets

vncNext week we will announce a new partnership with VNC – a European distributor with resellers in Europe, Middle-East and Africa. This partnership represents another important step in gradually building a carefully selected and qualified distribution channel. There has never been any doubt about the importance of a channel to the long term success of HyperOffice. The challenge has been timing and finding the right partners.

Timing

For a partnership to be successful there has to be a viable and sustainable business relationship. In other words our partners have to be successful in generating revenues and profits in order for our partnership to grow and thrive. One way partnerships don’t last long and don’t make economic sense. A few years back when we were exploring different channel models and partnerships we quickly realized that the market was not yet ready for a broad scale push to cloud based collaboration and messaging.

As a result we felt our partners would likely run into undue friction in their sales and marketing efforts. Today, the market has changed dramatically. Cloud based collaboration has moved from a niche technology to mainstream. Businesses of any size and representing any industry are comfortable with this new technology and in most cases interested to learn more. Businesses are looking to their trusted advisors (resellers, consultants, vars…etc) to guide them through their options and to help them benefit from the cloud. Resellers and partners are now in a position where they can choose to embrace this new shift in how technology is sold, delivered and consumed and profit from it.

Right partner

In the traditional software/hardware sales cycle, a reseller’s economic incentive is aligned with the vendor and not the customer’s ROI. In other words the majority of the effort on the reseller’s part is focused on making the initial sale. Once the sale is made the end customer will have to spend time, more money or both to get the technology they just purchased, deployed. Even more troubling is the fact that they are fully invested in that technology and stuck with it.

This model does not work well for most organizations and in particular for smb’s who lack the resources and the time for needs analysis, contract negotiation, large capital expenditure, long term IT planning and deployment. In the cloud model on the other hand the economic incentives for resellers, customers and vendors are all aligned with maximizing customer’s roi and with maintaining it through the life of the relationship. In this new model the customer’s investment in technology is spread over the life of their contract and is not concentrated all upfront. As a result the customer is in control and can cancel a service with minimum downside if they are not happy.  Therefore, the successful reseller will have to adjust their business processes from sales and marketing to support to accommodate customers in this new world. The right partner for us therefore is an organization with:-

1.      An understanding and appreciation for cloud based collaboration

2.      The infrastructure, processes and mindset that can help customers drive value from HyperOffice long after the initial sale has been made

3.   The required credibility to serve as a trusted adviser to their customers and partners

An established distributor in the SaaS and cloud marketplace, VNC offers a deep understanding of the cloud based collaboration market, along with a mature sales and support infrastructure. The executives at VNC have managed to build and operate a thriving distribution business while keeping ahead of the market and identifying the next important trend.

VNC is an ideal partner to take the next step with as we work to continue to build global marketing channels for the new generation of HyperOffice services and technologies.