Archive for June, 2013

2013 state of collaboration – Report

Collaborative Strategies, a leading consultancy which closely follows the collaboration software market, just released its annual report on the “state of collaboration” in 2013. Companies looking to implement collaboration software, or already using it, will take a lot away from this study in terms of experiences of other companies.  The main findings of the study are as follows (with my comments):

1) Users said they mainly used a collaboration solution to coordinate work with others, keep on top of project status, and keep track of colleagues.

2) 82% felt “cutting cycle time” and “improving teamwork” were the greatest benefits of using collaboration software.

3) Surprisingly, in terms of satisfaction almost 50% were somewhat happy with the collaboration/social tools they were currently using, but 35% were not very happy. This is a strong message to vendors that there is room to improve user experience.

4) The industries where collaboration tools were used the most were Sales and Marketing, IT, Operations, Customer Support, and R&D.

5) There is a concerted movement from using collaboration software for internal use to using it for collaboration with partners, clients, sub-contractors, etc. outside the corporate firewall. This makes sense because people are frustrated with using email for external collaboration, and finally it is easier to do via collaboration software.

6) 60% of the members of management said they understand the functions/benefits of collaboration software compared to just 10% in 2009.

7) 65% of users felt ease-of-use was more important compared to 24% who wanted more features. At HyperOffice we try hard to arrive at a balance. We call it “keeping it simple without losing value.

8 ) Many of collaboration tools in the market are now best categorized as collaborative or social “suite” tools, i.e. many functions integrated, rather than a tool that focuses on one function and tries to be “best-of-breed.” HyperOffice has always taken this approach. We were one of the first “integrated” solutions in the market and believe that teams work most efficiently when business information and tools are unified in a single interface (read our whitepaper about the benefits of integrated collaboration software)

9) Most solutions in the market average $15-25, but a number of companies do “disruptive” pricing including Podio ($9/u/m), Teambox ($5/u/m), MangoSpring ($6/u/mo), Apptivo ($10/user/mo) and HyperOffice whose pricing starts at $7/u/m. Interestingly, 57% of users surveyed felt that collaboration/social tools should cost less than$10/user/month.

5 Reasons Why ‘Cloud’ Should Be Part Of An Effective Business Continuity Plan

Self-preservation is the primary law of nature… and may I add – business. Business continuity plans are therefore an essential part of business.

To create a business continuity plan, we have to identify internal and external threats to both hard and soft assets of the company – but who can really prepare for an earthquake, violent storms, tsunamis or tornadoes? Who can be ready when such calamities strike? These may not have been immediate concerns before, but we’ve seen Mother Nature strike one too many times to ignore a contingency plan.

Nowadays, business continuity has become an unpredictable variable. Timely enough, we now have the technology to protect our precious data – cloud computing. Because of cloud computing services, we can safely tuck away our data in remote data centres. If you have not yet adapted ‘cloud’ services as part of your business continuity plan, here are 5 reasons why you should reconsider it:

Safety of “Soft” Business Assets = Business Continuity

Cloud computing has 3 service models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS). Businesses can use these 3 services to host all of their “soft” assets such as: data, CRM, servers, tools, software etc. This ensures that, come what weather, virus or other contingency, the company’s data is secure.

Though you may ask, what if it was the data centres who experience the “unexpected contingencies”? Great question. They’ve thought of that as well, that’s why data centres have backups of your data, and backups of backups. Unlike the usual in-house IT servers, data centres are all about hardware muscle.

Stability = Business Continuity

Because your entire system is hosted on a remote server with much more muscle (hardware), you can count on its stability compared to an in-house IT. The reason why most systems crash or fail is because their in-house IT doesn’t have the hardware to churn the processes of several users. As your business gets larger, it’ll be hard to keep things on track unless you buy/increase your hardware. So, by leveraging on the hardware muscle of cloud services, your system becomes ‘more’ stable.

Faster = Customer Satisfaction = Business Continuity

When we need speed, we need better hardware. Cloud computing services have stacks and columns of servers with ‘super’ capacities. When we avail of, say SaaS, we are letting the servers of the cloud computing company do all the heavy lifting re: processes, software, storage. Compared to their hardware our computers, even if it has an i7 processor, are still mice. When we leverage the capacities and capabilities of these “heavy duty” computers, we can do our work faster because there is no processing happening on our end.

Reduced Operating Costs = Business Continuity

Cloud computing services help you reduce operating costs significantly! For example, you have a graphic design company that functions on 30 computers. For your employees to work, you need a graphic design software – let’s say Photoshop. Imagine the cost of having to purchase 30 licenses for Photoshop in order to install it on every employee’s computer. That’s quite an expense.

When you adapt the ‘cloud’, you can install just a single licensed software on the server and then it can be accessed by all of your employees. But you only need one license because technically the software is installed on just one computer (the server).

Global Workforce = Business Continuity

Wherever you are in the world, you can access the cloud. So whether your office is in the U.S., having global branches/reaches is possible – and it’s cheaper. And you won’t have to worry about latency problems – your data travelling from the US to Asia – because they are in the internet, so you just need the right bandwidth. The beauty of cloud computing services, such as that of Netsuite’s CRM or HyperOffice’s collaboration solutions, is that you see data real-time!

I’m sure that it is every entrepreneur’s dream to expand and launch their business internationally, as well as to keep their business alive long-term – with cloud computing software that dream ain’t too far to reach.

About the author

Vanessa Parks is a Freelance Systems Analyst and Cloud Storage Consultant. She has been an advocate of Desktop virtualisation and unified computing for improved work efficiency and performance. She also has a passion in dancing, cooking and playing golf.