Archive for February, 2011

The Heyday of Mobile Collaboration : 4 Important Mobile Productivity Tools

How’s this for an explosive concoction.

As of June 2010, 93% of Americans owned a mobile phone. Penetration in other developed nations like Germany and UK has crossed 100%. Not far behind are developing countries (Brazil – 100%, India – 56%, China – 59%). Now consider the fact that a growing percentage of these mobile users (31% in USA in Nov 2010) use smart phones – powerful, internet friendly and addictive phones like Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, and Nokia. Add to this mix the emergence of wireless technologies like 3G and 4G which make wireless data transfer a breeze.

No wonder data usage over mobile devices is surging! Or that the mobile internet is expected to exceed desktop internet by 2015. Or that the mobile platform is the new focus of diverse areas such as advertisement and application development. Indeed, this is the decade of mobile technology.

Business Impact of Mobile Market Growth

As expected, businesses are not insulated from these gargantuan changes. Especially since the new market is pushing the worker to be more “mobile” – on the road, working from a client site or home, or working with a globally distributed network of colleagues and partners. IDC expects a third of the world’s working population to consist of “mobile workers” by 2013.

Habituated to using their mobile devices for everything beyond talking and texting – checking email, browsing the web, posting on FaceBook and Twitter, playing with apps or finding their way with maps – workers increasingly see the mobile devices as ways to connect with work. According to a recent Forrester study, a whopping 49% of small business owners are reported to own smartphones.

Since workers need, want and expect to keep connected with work outside the office site, it is imperative upon businesses to provide them with the right tools to do so. Changing trends in corporate IT spend reflect this. The SMB Group found that mobile spending now accounts for almost 10% of all technology spending for U.S. small and medium businesses and amounted to $26.1B on mobile solutions and services in 2010.

The mobile tools that organizations need to provide employees range from access to essential business information like email, contacts and calendars, to mobile collaboration tools which allow them to share and work together on business information. Going forward, businesses fill feel an increasing need to provide employees mobile access to specialized business apps and work-flows.

4 Important Mobile Productivity Tools

Push Email. Push email allows employees to access and manage their corporate email accounts right from the native email app of their mobile device, and keep it synchronized.

Mobile email remains one of the top business uses of mobile phones. Nielsen found that users spent close to 42% of their mobile internet time on email. Much of this is business related email use. A recent study on Mobile Messaging from Osterman research found that more than 95% of respondents check e-mail after work hours. Email is one of the top business technologies, and companies will find that enabling workers with the ability to access email on their mobile phones will allow workers to keep connected with work, and in turn increase productivity and speed reaction times in business situations. In Ostermans study, 84% of respondents revealed that their senior manager’s ability to make critical, time-sensitive decisions will be affected if they do not have access to mobile e-mail.

Push Calendars. Push calendars allow workers to access corporate schedules from their mobile phone, and set up meetings and events and keep them in sync with their Outlook or other business calendars. In the face a hundred demands on their time, push calendars allow workers to be organized and keep on top of schedules, even when they are outside office and don’t have access to their corporate calendar.

Push Contacts. Push contacts allow workers to manage their business contacts lists from the address book of their mobile device. It is a great convenience to be able to quickly look up a contact on the mobile phone, when one does not have access to the company’s contact management system.

Collaboration Tools. Apart from essential mobile productivity tools, the demand is shifting to tools that not only let workers access important corporate information, but work together on this information with colleagues. Indeed, the ante is being raised to “mobile collaboration”. These tools, which may be accessed through native mobile apps, or the mobile browser, allow workers to share contacts, calendars, documents and other corporate information with colleagues.

According to Tonya Fowler, Global Director with Frost & Sullivan’s Customer Research Team “tools that enhance the mobile experience (i.e., such as Web-based collaboration tools) are likely to see increased levels of adoption sooner rather than later.”

Afterword

The above market movements have been experienced by us at HyperOffice as well. Mobile support has been a much requested feature by our users. We have made an effort to keep up with our customer requests as well as emerging trends in the market. Our HyperOffice Collaboration Suite has dedicated web interfaces for mobile devices, and all features may be accessed through a user’s mobile browser. About a year ago, we decided to take things to the next level and address some gaping lacunae in the market.We found that users increasingly want solutions that allow them to leverage the native apps of their mobile device. Moreover, there was a shortage of inexpensive mobile messaging solutions which worked ubiquitously across devices, rather than limiting users to a single, or a few choices.

Based on that, we introduced HyperSynch, a fully hosted add on push messaging service to our suite, which allows users to push and sync business email, contacts, calendars and tasks with the native apps of almost every major mobile device in the market including iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Nokia, Windows Mobile and more.

Feb 2011 Upgrade – The HyperOffice secret!

Many of our clients have taken notice that our updates and upgrades have been coming more frequently with vigor and purpose, and now it’s time to share the secret to what’s behind HyperOffice’s steady and rapid growth. Our clients! We’ve come to the conclusion that HyperOffice is chock-full of unique clients that are not afraid to chime in with ideas and requests and it’s been helping us deliver the most versatile, complete, and customizable solution in the cloud today.

With the launch of our new feedback system ( http://feedback.hyperoffice.com ) we’ve seen clients submit over 400 votes on enhancement requests that THEY want to see in THEIR product. These clients drive HyperOffice to be the best collaboration suite available today. Our most recent release addresses 90% of submitted product bugs and implements some of our most client requested usability enhancements. Take a look at some of our most popular requests below.

1. Immediate training and webinar assistance during the trial through our new webinar button

2. Meeting rescheduling behaviors have been revamped

3. Icon consistency across all sections for a more intuitive experience

4. Enhanced user interface notifications

5. Improved user profile loading system to enhance overall speed

6. Overall speed of site publisher has been increased

7. Personal Desktop administration has been enhanced specifically the Group News and Company Announcements sections

8. Task notification emails now include specific change content

9. Global company signatures have been added for companywide announcements and confidentiality tags

These are only a handful of the implemented requests we’ve received and we are always eager to hear what our clients have to say and give them what they want.

Email Archiving and SMBs

“Email archiving” wouldn’t normally ring a bell for a small business owner. The general impression is that the regulatory requirement of keeping all company email records for a certain number of years, falls only on enterprises, and hence the inapplicability of email archiving software to smaller businesses.

This is not totally accurate, since there are certain categories of small businesses, which are affected. There are thousands of small companies in the financial sector, for example, that are affected by regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, SEC and National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD).

But the general indifference of SB owners towards email archiving does not come as a surprise, given the price points, which more than outweighed any benefits. It typically involved purchasing and implementing specialized software like MS Exchange, and setting up dedicated servers – running up costs from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

However, thanks to the cloud revolution, email archiving is another area that has moved to the cloud. Companies can now access email archiving tools over the internet for a reasonable monthly fee, without the need to host solutions in-house. Given this substantially reduced price point, small business owners would do well to consider the benefits. Specifically, the benefits are as follows:-

1) Safeguard Mission Critical Data. It is not an overstatement to say that information that is critical to any businesses – client communications, documents, records, contracts, invoices – flow through its email system. Often, this information is lost or locked away in individual inboxes, frustratingly inaccessible when needed the most, and hostage to a fickle email system or a disgruntled employee on his way out. Email archiving ensures that all this information is stored, backed-up and safeguarded centrally on an ongoing basis.

2) eDiscovery. Email archiving solutions have search and discovery tools built into them to ensure that companies have access to the specific information they need, when they need it.

3) Legal Concerns. Although a large majority of small businesses are not required by law to store and conserve their business email communications, they may find themselves in a messy litigation, and required to produce historical email records under a subpoena. At other times, the presence of historical email records may help the small businesses owner in building a case in litigation against, say, a defaulting partner.

4) HR Benefits. The HR department may find email archiving to be an invaluable tool at their disposal, and a protection against staff email misuse. Numerous situations can be thought of to exemplify this – an in house investigation, monitoring for workplace harassment, or arbitration of employee tribunal cases before going to court.

Given the above benefits, small businesses may want to give email archiving a long and hard thought.

At HyperOffice, we constantly look to bring more and more features and functionality into our messaging and collaboration suite, to ensure that our customers don’t have to shop around as their needs expand. After expanding our email/messaging capabilities with push email support for almost every major mobile platform a few months ago, email archiving was the logical next step. Email archiving is currently in beta, and we hope to make it widely available very soon.