Archive for October, 2012

Why Social is an improvement over Email – Our take

Albeit a little belatedly, I got wind of a very interesting debate spurred by Alan Lepofsky of Constellation Research, where he compares email to social messaging as a notifications and communication system. We’ve spoken to Alan before, and were privileged to be featured in his recent report – Getting Work Done With Social Task Management (a must read for forward thinking managers). Alan is one of the thought leaders in collaboration and social business and we have high regard for his depth of knowledge.

Alan brings up 3 important points, which we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ourselves. He feels that some of the touted benefits of social tools over email are, well, BS. They replace one kind of chaos with another. Our responses:

Alan 1. Email feels mandatory where social networks are voluntary. BS! As companies adopt internal social networks the pressure to “check your stream” is going to be just the same as “check your inbox”.
Agreed. Moving from email to social tools at work is simply a question of moving your digital “home”. Email is our default home because today, it happens to be the hub where all important work related activity is taking place. In the past decade, there have been efforts to make other tools the workers’ digital home – the intranet for example. That didn’t go over so well. However, we believe that making your social wall your digital home brings some marked benefits, and warrants this move:

1. You keep track of only internal activity on your work related social walls. Email on the other hand attracts every imaginable communication and notification from the outside world. Important internal communications get lost in this sea all the time. Although modern business social networks do let users monitor some external information, this information still comes through filters. Email, in contrast is the playground of every scammer and marketer in the world.

2. Email is siloed. Every email exchange exists in a block, available to only the sender and receiver, which gets buried soon after it was created. The business knowledge captured in an email is forever locked away and can almost never be used to benefit the business in the long term. On the other hand, social tools are open and encourage even people not in the original conversation to participate, and transform that information into new unexpected forms that will benefit the organization.

3. Email is inefficient, in that every exchange creates a new block of information. Information is therefore duplicated exponentially, as it is sent back and forth time and again. Social tools on the other hand pull people to central copies of information.

4. Social tools have a superior structure. The overall information design of social tools with activity streams, comment threads, profiles, seems to be vastly more user friendly than email, as amply proved by the success of services like tools like Facebook. Social tools bring further benefits like linking you right back to the object notifications relate to – for example in HyperOffice, you can access a task right from the task notification.

Alan 2. You can check social networks when it’s convenient as opposed to feeling like your inbox is waiting for you 24*7. BS! As companies adopt social networking people’s expectations will be that you’re always monitoring the stream.
Agreed. But monitoring a social stream is easier since it mostly relates to internal activity or highly filtered information.

Alan 3. Any reduction in the number of emails is a good thing. OMG I hate this one. Now instead of checking my inbox I have to check Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Yammer, LinkedIn, etc. Uggghhhh.
Adoption definitely suffers when people are expected to manage work through multiple software. However, when we refer to social business tools, we are talking about a single internal social network. Keeping on top of multiple networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin is indeed becoming important for modern businesses, but that is more in the domain of social media marketing and social CRM. Social business software relates to working together with colleagues and partners. So even if you mainly use email, you still have to use Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc. for the above purposes.

My arguments relate to the superiority of using a private social network over email for internal communications and monitoring system. However, to interact with the outer world, email still seems to be the best tool, simply because different email systems can interact with each other through standard protocols. Social software is not yet at that level of maturity. We fully recognize this reality, for which reason email remains an important cornerstone of our HyperOffice suite.



Guest Post – The Cloud in the Public Sector: Is it real or is it myth?

Blogger Bio

Jim Sweeney has more than 35 years of experience in the development and integration of a broad range of enterprise IT applications and technologies. He has held several roles including technical, sales and marketing positions over his career. For the last four years, Jim has served as the Manager of the Virtualization and Cloud Computing Consulting Practice at GTSI, working with different federal, state and local agencies on a variety of technical solutions primarily focused in the areas of server, desktop, application virtualization as well as storage virtualization and consolidation. He just finished a book titled “Get your head in the clouds” discussing the relevance of the cloud for the public sector in detail, with scores of real life implementaions.


There has been a lot of hype over the last year about Cloud Computing (not to mention Big Data, and a whole host of other topics, but that’s another blog post). But has there been more than talk? Vendors are jumping on the bandwagon left and right and now even Oracle has announced that they are in the public and private IaaS Cloud business.(see my latest blog post for GTSI). But what about customers? Are they just listening at the moment or is there real movement to implement real Cloud solutions in the public sector?

Well I am happy to report that the answer is a resounding “Yes”. There are real customers at real agencies that have already adopted the Cloud for one or more services. AWS announced this morning at their annual Federal Conference that there are over 300 agencies already using them. They spent a lot of the day trying to clear up the misconceptions surrounding Cloud. In fact, this is the purpose of my new book on Cloud, entitled: “Get Your Head in the Cloud: Unraveling the Mystery for Public Sector”. Actually the purpose is two fold:

1. Clear up all the FUD that is out there as to the types of Cloud and the various deployment models of Cloud. I make it simple for even the non-technical folks out there to understand.

2. Give real examples of customers at all levels of the public sector, federal, state and local, that have already made use of this exciting new technology. Here are just a couple of examples:

a. Many people are afraid of the Cloud. But the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab jumped right in. You see, they figured they were going to get blamed anyway if their customers went around them to the Cloud and had it blow up in their faces, so they took a proactive approach. You’ll have to read the book to get the whole story but suffice it to say that there are 180,000 images of Mars now sitting in the Amazon public Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Cloud.

b. Lot of people throw “Security” as a reason for not going to the public Cloud. But that is exactly one of the challenges that the Department of Labor overcame when they outsourced their entire Financial Management system to a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider, GCE. Not only did they immediately see returns but all of the auditing problems they had before the transition were gone!

c. Finally, let me say a word about the agencies that have announced their intention to move to a SaaS email provider, some to Microsoft and their Office 365 Cloud and some to Google and their Gmail offering. This is a great move by the various agencies. While we have to wait for some of the final numbers the case study in the book, State of Minnesota, has already seen tremendous savings in both dollars and headaches by moving to the new system.

Finally, let me say a word about HyperOffice. Over 200,000 customers now use their SaaS product as a replacement for Microsoft Office. Can you imagine not having to handle the installation, configuration and patching of all of your various versions of Office Suites out there today? Their technology really does make it easy for you. And by moving to a SaaS provider like HyperOffice you are one step closer to that other technology that is getting a lot of press recently, BYOD (Bring Your own Device).

The Cloud is here. The Cloud is now. It is not right for every service that IT provides to its customers, but with budget cuts looming and staffs that are already overworked, Cloud can provide monetary savings as well as relief for your current IT staff.

As always, thanks for reading.

Back to the basics – How to share files online

This is another post in our “Back to the basics” series. Those amongst us who are tech geeks tend to fall in the trap of subconsciously assuming that others are as comfortable with cloud technology as we are. However, studies like the one from Spiceworks which found that upto 50% of SMBs still don’t use cloud services, bring you back to reality.

So you have a file, and want to share it online with someone in another city. Here are your options:

Send it as an email attachment: OK, you knew this already. The easiest way is to simply mail the file across as an attachment. But, this method doesn’t work well with big files since you have to sit around all day for it to upload, and many mail services have upper limits for attachment size. Moreover, sharing documents through mail has the disadvantage of the documents being hard to retrieve at a later date. If you want to go beyond simple sharing, but actually work together on a file, it is vastly inefficient to send the same file back and forth over and over.

Use a free file sharing service. This is indeed the era of cloud file sharing services like Dropbox and Google Drive. These are basically cloud based folders where you can upload files, and access them wherever you have access to the internet. For sharing purposes, you can provide other people access to this folder. Nowadays, these services have strong mobility capabilities, which means you can easily share files even from a mobile device or tablet.

File sharing and collaboration for business purposes. In a business situation, you need to not only share files with others, but also work together on them remotely, and make sure that access is secured. File collaboration services like HyperOffice are ideal here, as they let you create shared cloud folders and also have added collaboration features like version control, access permissions, comments and notifications.