Author Archive

What is your collaboration style? French Garden or English Garden? (Infographic)

Two top managers disagree profoundly. Abel, CEO of a happening young startup, believes that if he gives his team room to be creative, everything will fall in place for the company. Abraham, President at a large real estate agency, won’t hear a word of it. According to him, you need to give people context – in terms of clearly defined responsibilities, processes and roles -  so that they can channel their creativity to improve the organization.

Neither of them is completely right. They are right in their own situations. Through a gardening metaphor, the following infographic studies these two broad approaches to collaborating in organizations. Which one are you?

(click to enlarge)

42 rules for successful collaboration – Free eBook for HyperOffice site visitors

As we go about our duties at our workplace every day, we all feel a little exasperated some time or the other – because of responsibilities or hierarchies that were ill-defined, information that was lost or not passed in a timely manner, mis-communication, or tasks that seem to keep piling up. And we all have that inner thought – things could be done so much better!

And once we’ve worked in enough companies, we realize that these problems are not specific to one company or boss but are universal. We are experiencing the problem of collaboration. In a sense, collaboration is the entire discipline of management – making sure people work together smoothly to achieve company goals. And the problem is not solely one of technology. It is a sum total of everything that makes a company – people, processes, culture, organizational structure AND technology.

David Coleman, famous collaboration speaker, author and consultant, who has spent more than 20 years working with anything from the largest companies in the world to small start ups, has used his experience to write a book listing 42 things that companies can do to ensure better collaboration. It is an immensely good read, with very practicable tips and real cases, and borrows from the latest in organizational design and internet technology.

We have partnered with David to provide HyperOffice site visitors with a free copy of the eBook. Be sure to grab your copy.



Guest Post – Benefits of Cloud Computing

Technology has been taken over by the Cloud. Putting it in simple terms, ‘Cloud’ is the new meme used to describe nirvana from clogged up computers and saving files directly to the internet. So how does it work?

Essentially, instead of saving files to a hard disk or using software on a computer that is directly installed, the Cloud offers the ability to quickly and easily access these files using an Internet connection.  It all sounds very swish, but what actually are the benefits?

Services that offer Cloud storage can provide businesses with the storage space that they simply wouldn’t otherwise have access to. As storage is provided using a vast remote server, businesses can pay a relatively small amount of money (compared to the relevant cost of physical hardware) to receive a phenomenal amount of storage space.

As more and more companies rely on the Cloud, this means that the need for a contingency plan in the case of file loss can be completely eradicated. Recovery times are quick and relatively simple should anything go wrong, as all information and data is backed up onto the servers. This is great in the event of files being accidentally removed, or worse, stolen.

A huge benefit to businesses is the ability for multiple staff to access, edit and share folders and files that they are currently working on. This means that collaboration between teams of people can be greatly improved, and no time is wasted on uploading and emailing files individually. This end result for businesses – efficiency.

Cloud resources are easily scalable – they can be altered to suit growing needs, which is perfect for companies who are unsure of their growth curve.

On the topic of efficiency, it’s also worth noting that using Cloud as your storage solution will use at least 30% less energy than by using regular servers based on-site. Perfect for any companies with a strong interest in green ethics.

The Cloud has also rapidly become more and more accessible via smartphones and tablets – meaning that your documents are truly available anytime and anywhere. For people who work on the move, or do a lot of travelling, this can be a lifeline for effectively managing time away from the office.

Businesses should all be aware that mobile computing and social use of technology is still growing rapidly. Enterprises will need to keep up or get left behind.

About the author

Shelly Flaherty is a mom of two and an avid freelance blogger. She also works alongside Ideal cleaning services group. In her spare time she loves to spend time with her kids.

Infographic – Cloud Collaboration in Healthcare

Collaboration, or the act of working together, is universal across business types and industries – education, healthcare, real estate, government or any other. However, each industry has its own specific language for referring to things, and puts different emphasis on different collaborative processes.  The purpose of this series is to use a simple visual format to describe how cloud collaboration technology could be useful in your industry.

The first infograph is about cloud collaboration software in the healthcare and wellness industry – hospitals, doctors offices, laboratories, health related back-office firms, pharma companies and hundreds of other organizations.  You may check the following page for HyperOffice cloud collaboration offerings for healthcare.

Click to enlarge



From intranets to social intranets – Part 1 (Social intranets and knowledge management)

We tend to get carried away in the mood of the moment. As enterprise social networks started to pick up, weren’t we a little too quick to grab our shovels, prepare tearful eulogies post the “death of intranets” in the manner of “intranets were great BUT…..”, and start to drag the intranet away?

Not so quick.

Admittedly, intranets have had a rocky past, suffering from adoption problems, never quite delivering their promise. However, the objectives where sound, and lots of companies which thought through their intranet implementation, did have great success. Social software on the other hand, is beyond its bright eyed boy stage, and has to bring more than a business version of “let’s exchange likes”. The right way then, is the best of both worlds. This coming together is already underway with the assimilation of modern social concepts in traditional intranets – the “social intranet”.

Although I was going to discuss all the ways in which a social intranet improves upon a traditional intranet in a single blog entry, I realized that each area deserves its own attention. This is therefore a series.

Social intranets and knowledge management

Shortcomings of knowledge management in traditional intranets

A classical objective of the intranet was knowledge management – capturing all possible knowledge created in the organization and making it readily available to everyone else. The idea was to capture learning as problems were faced, solved, best practices developed, and share such learning across offices, teams and hierarchies – a growth and maturation for the entire organization in the process.

Although the intranet was able to capture knowledge to an extent, it was never able to solve the problem of sharing. Knowledge created and captured in the intranet in the forms of documents, presentations, or best practice sheets, never left the team, office or division “workspace”. The inherent flaw lay in the structure of traditional intranets – everything was blocked off into “intranet workspaces”, each an island of information in itself.

Another major flaw with the design of the intranet was that although it captured the information created through formal processes – documents, presentations, spreadsheets, code-bases – it was in-adept at capturing the key resource of any organization – the knowledge in the minds of workers. The workers had no incentive to, or means of, voluntarily and proactively contributing what they had in their minds in terms of ideas, suggestions, and solutions to others’ problems. One could even think of it as outdated human resource philosophy as reflected in traditional intranets – why would an employee go beyond their job role to help their colleagues and company?

That is what changes in a profound way in social intranets.

Employee generated content. Social intranets bring to intranets one of the main sources of the web 2.0 revolution – user generated content. Content is not created at the higher echelons of the company and handed down to everyone else. Social intranets equip employees with the tools to contribute their own content. Employees engage in open conversations by finding colleagues, posting messages on their walls, contributing articles, following and participating in existing conversations, or setting up ad hoc groups around common areas of interest. In the process they are contributing their knowledge, and gaining from the knowledge of others. And this knowledge is accessible to everyone else in the company for all times.

Sharing across silos. Another thing social tools encourage employees to do is to freely share information across formal organizational groups. For example, if you are on a cross functional group, you can simply post a message on the wall of a teammate in another division at another office, and attach a document from your groups document repository that might help them. In doing this, you actually created an information bridge across groups. As this is one more and more, group boundaries become porous and information travels freely across them. Company knowledge is now not siloed, but available across the grid.

Access people. As mentioned before, key company knowledge resides not in company documents, but inside the minds of employees. Employees have a face in social intranets in the form of profiles which detail their skills, projects and experience. You can easily locate the right people across the organization by searching for skills or experience, and approach them directly for help. More often than not, you will find they are willing to help, which saves you the time and effort of reinventing the wheel.

At an abstract level, what social intranets really represent is a shift in philosophy. They recognize people as the most important repository of organizational knowledge, and believe that employees will go out of their way, beyond their formal roles, to help their colleagues and the organization – and derive satisfaction from that (HR practitioners call this theory Y).

I swear it wasn’t me, it was email

Have you ever emerged from an email conversation feeling socially shamed and made to look like an expert commentator on last year’s news? Well, then we understand each other.

Here’s my story. I was just part of an email thread involving important people who did not know me, and evidently, I was eager to impress. After carefully drafting my reply, which (I thought), evoked mental images of me as a seasoned professional with enlightened views on all things important (all suited up, reflective expression, albeit with a hint of disdain?) I leaned back with a sigh of contentment.

Until I realized the conversation had moved much beyond the email I had responded to….

After chewing on my tie a couple of times, I frantically typed out another message to save the situation the best I could.

And I realized I had done it again…

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

After reprimanding the universe for conspiring against me in the choicest terms, an epiphany struck me – it was not the universe, or me, IT WAS EMAIL!

In email conversations, scattered across a multitude of folders and emails, everyone eager to be heard, what hope do I, mere mortal, have of keeping up?

If only, my next thought was, IF ONLY, we could have conversations like we do on social walls, where everyone posts their opinion in a single place, and the conversation refreshes in real time; I would say the right thing at the right time, and be well on my way to respect and professional ascendancy.

And I ask of thee…WHY NOT?

P.S – Share your email pain with me in the comments section.

McKinsey Study – The Value of Social Business

2012 brought in scores of real case studies of companies of all sizes implementing social business technologies and reporting benefits. Conceptual models abounded and debates around the use of social tools at work built to a crescendo.

To follow up on all that, McKinsey released a report quantifying the industry-wide benefits of social technologies in business. This should be an eye opener for those who haven’t considered social technologies yet, and a validation for those already down this path.

1) Based on an in-depth analysis of 4 key sectors representing 20% of global sales, McKinsey found that social technologies could potentially contribute $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in annual value across the four sectors. The potential benefit across is even greater when extrapolated to other industries.

2) 2/3 of this potential value lies in improving collaboration and communication within and across enterprises. This is the exact area we address with HyperOffice Social.

3) The average knowledge worker spends an estimated 28% of the workweek managing e-mail and nearly 20% searching information or finding colleagues to help with specific tasks. Using social media can cut down this time spent searching for information and people by 35%.

4) Companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity high-skill knowledge workers by 20 to 25%.

Are you reaping these benefits yet?

Guest Post – Why Social Media is Essential to the Success of any Small Business in 2013

Of all the technologies that have changed our lives in recent years, none has done so more than social media. Social media has taken root as one of the most influential and most used forms of communication around the world. From politics, to entertainment, to personal and business, there is not one platform as accessible and widely used as social media. With Twitter and Facebook, to mention the most popular, you have a way of connecting with people from all over the world, and in the same neighbourhood with the strike of a few keys.

And the best part is that it is free. While individuals in their personal capacities have been quick to latch onto the idea of social media, businesses and particularly small businesses have been less interested, and to their detriment. Big companies have a dedicated marketing budget with a full time marketing department, a small business simply cannot afford this, so it is time to realise that social media is the best and most useful alternative.

The whole world is using social media, and without it your small business is out of date and simply won’t grow. Yes, business and the market are constantly changing but in order to keep and expand your client base you need to be consistent. As odd a paradox as it might seem.

So, how can you use social media to benefit your small business?

1. Realise that the persona you portray on your business social media page, is not the same person that you portray on your personal page. You can be yourself on your personal page, but on your business page you need to portray confidence and success. Don’t spread yourself too thin either, concentrate your social media presence on the three main social media platforms, this is usually Facebook, Twitter and Google+ but do your own research.

2. Make your profile interesting. Images can be extremely useful in reinforcing the image of your company so be careful in choosing them. Make sure you look confident and welcoming. Don’t upload personal photos, keep it professional.

3. The pages that you like and share and follow will give your clients an idea of your business profile and so it is important to find out who the leaders in your field are and follow them. You want your clients to see your business as part of this greater, successful network. So sign up for good industry blogs and comment and get involved. Then share this on your social media pages.

4. Plan ahead. Have a plan for the year ahead and then increase the number of stakeholders interested in what you are doing. Give people small pieces of information to get excited about and to start talking about. Ask for people’s opinions and collaborate with people you respect; this will double or triple the people you are able to reach.

With the economy starting to rebound, it is a good time for small business. But the only way to succeed and thrive in the current climate is to take advantage of the resources that are available to you. So don’t sit back and think that social media is for young people. It simply is not, it is for everyone and if you don’t jump on board you are going to get left behind.

How2become is the UK’s leading career specialist with the simple goal of helping people prepare and pass tough recruitment processes in order to secure their dream job whether that is a police officer, train driver, firefighter or paramedic. How 2 become currently offers over 150 different titles across a wide range of careers providing insider information to help you prepare effectively.

What is social task management? How is it an improvement over traditional project management?

HyperOffice had the privilege of being featured in a recent report on “getting work done with social task management” by expert analyst Alan Lepofsky.

As the “team work” market evolves at a dizzying pace, and throws up new memes left, right and center – social collaboration, social business, social intranet, enterprise 2.0, enterprise social networking – end users are understandably lost. The natural question to ask is – what “social” solution meets my needs?

Social task management is suitable for companies which are mainly looking to coordinate the activities and effort of a team spread across locations and company boundaries. The emphasis is on “projects”, where everyone contributes a specific part, at a specific time in a chain of activities.

The “project approach” is important in modern businesses, so project management software has been popular and around for a while. These software let you create the structure of a project, lay out the exact sequence of activities, set milestones, specify complex relationships between activities, assign tasks to the right people, set priorities, attach resources and so on – a massive improvement on managing projects doing this through Excel spreadsheets and email.

However, traditional project management software suffers from the some major drawbacks, which social task management improves upon:

What about the conversations? Projects don’t operate in a vacuum. Often, intense conversations between managers and the team happen before the project, and even during the project, as the project often evolves to a form quite different from how it started out.  While project management software is good for getting organized once the project is underway, it completely ignores the conversations.  Conversations end up taking place disjointedly on email, IM, or through verbal conversations and are forever lost once finished.

Social task management begins with conversations. It’s open, conversational environment, allows everyone to get together, discusses issues, and then, at the appropriate times, tasks and projects are set up and assigned  on the fly. And the conversations don’t end there, they continue right up to the end as new issues arise, specifications change and deadlines are altered. These conversations are forever captured for anyone else who might want to look at the project.

Emails are inefficient for updates. Even traditional project management software needs to keep the team informed about changes in the project. Say, if someone completed their task, people further up the chain and the manager need to be notified. Traditional systems use email for these notifications. This however, has disadvantages, where these notifications might get lost in a sea of other email, and the recipient still has to log into the PM system to get more details. With frequent updates coming in, and so much else to work on, these extra few clicks make all the different where people never log in and end up missing deadlines.

Social task management systems have a feedback loop built in, where everyone can have conversations, get change notifications, and access and update their tasks all from a single place – their project walls. Not only that, this is a single place they can access everything across projects, not just a single project.

Project management systems are not share-friendly. Traditional project management systems mostly confine every participant to their specific part of the project. There is no easy way to show your task to other people, get their advice, or even get clear visibility to what others are working on. In a real business situation however, activities are never demarcated in neat packages, and everyone helps everyone else in a joint effort to drive the effort to completion.

Social task management solutions bring with them the openness and free sharing of social tools. Inviting others to look, advice and contribute to your task often means just a click.

As Alan Lepofsky lays out in his report, social task management systems come as pure social task management systems, or broader social business suites with task management as a component part. HyperOffice represents the latter approach, because we feel that task management, even with a social layer, is not independent of other collaborative effort – meeting coordination, document collaboration, workflows. Companies, as they grow in size, and take a strategic view of their collaboration software might prefer this approach. You make want to take a look at our social collaboration tools.

Small Business Apps Guide

XNL Telecom, a small telecom provider based in the UK, have created a neat infographic on web apps for small businesses, which we had the privilege of being featured in. It is a very comprehensive list of important apps for a small business considering jumping into the world of online productivity (basically any small business).

20 Small Business Apps

With many businesses feeling the pinch, XLN Business Services has listed 20 of best apps to streamline operations. View more details here