Author Archive

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

Manage Simple Processes with Do It Yourself Database Apps – Guest Post by Megan Webb-Morgan of Resource Nation

Database applications are essentially programs that enter and retrieve information from a computer-managed database; your business may have databases full of customer information, fleet data or inventory lists. And while much of this is already stored in various platforms, such as your fleet tracking software, being able to pull it from one database app is more convenient and efficient.

While there are many out-of-the-box options, a do-it-yourself database app can help you organize your business’ data and simplify your management processes in a way that is designed just for you and your business.

Do-It-Yourself versus Out-of-the-Box

If you have standard database needs, it’s easy to purchase a basic program out of the box and be satisfied with its functionality. However, if you have unique needs specific to your organization, a standard program just won’t cut it.

– Instead of trying to modify an existing database program to fulfill your business’s needs, you can avoid those limitations by creating your own database application.

– Creating a database app for your business can help you manage processes more efficiently. Rather than emailing spreadsheets back and forth between employees, you can keep all your information in one place that can be accessed by multiple users whenever they need it.

Experts at Nonprofit Technology Network suggest, “As a general rule of thumb, we usually say that if an off-the-shelf product meets 80% of your needs, you can probably use that product and figure out a way to deal with the other 20%. But if the off-the-shelf product meets a lot less than 80%, then you probably should look at a platform to get exactly what you need.

Cloud-Based Apps

No matter what kind of business you run, you can build a database application to manage many of your simple processes. DIY databases allow you to enter exact data that you need and to generate reports, charts, and other output from that data. There are a number of database building platforms available to your business on the web.

If you choose to use a cloud-based database provider, be aware that there is a chance the provider itself may or may not be around in the long term. For this reason, being aware of the viability of your database provider, and the years of experience it has is very important. This holds true for other cloud based products as well (see whitepaper on how to select a SaaS vendor). You also want to be sure that you can easily export data from the database.

– Once you build your database application, you need to monitor its functionality to make sure it is running correctly and make configuration adjustments as needed.

– Protect your business and your information from server failure and provider insolvency by regularly creating a back-up of your cloud-based application and data to be stored offline.

Many small businesses inefficiently manage their processes by emailing spreadsheets around the office, which can cause confusion and disorder through lack of organization. There are many online providers that can walk you through the process of creating your database and managing it proficiently. Utilize the flexibility of a do-it-yourself database app to keep your information organized, easy to access, and easy for multiple persons to edit.

Megan Webb-Morgan is a web content writer for ResourceNation.com. She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as business software.

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.

Hierarchical (Group) vs. Social Collaboration

Collaboration software, starting with Lotus Notes, have mostly been structured into “groups”. A “group” is a gated pocket of information and tools, accessible only to members of that group. This structure is a reflection of how organizations are structured – into “divisions”, or “departments”, or “teams” or “offices”.

Designing collaboration software this way is a massive improvement over the previous (and still persistent) generation of collaboration software – email.

The email approach to information sharing is by its nature unstructured – every time you need to share something with someone, you simply create a new email and sent it out. It in no way distinguishes between people within a group, outside that group, or even outside the organization.

However, in a company, a “group” is a coherent unit, with a defined purpose, with people who need to work together closely, often on repeat activities, sharing the same information much of the time (a Sales team accessing a standard contract form for example). It is massively inefficient to create a new email everytime you need to share information with a colleague.

A “group” in the collaboration software provides a dedicated online environment to this closely knit unit of people to accomplish joint tasks – a team calendar to coordinate team schedules, project management functionality to schedule team activities, document folders to allow access to documents and so on. In addition, it also includes tools which are not purely task related, like motivational tools (displaying an exceptional performer for example) or tools relating to employee development (gathering employee feedback).

Social collaboration – an alternative?

But this approach is not without demerits. In a real business environment, although people within a group need to work together closely, they are not self-sustained or disconnected from the rest of the organization. These groups often need to work together with and access information from other groups – cross departmental teams for example, or have ad-doc collaboration needs (Sales needing a collateral document from Marketing, for example). The “group” structure can sometimes be restrictive and siloed when it comes to these inter-group information flows.

Social collaboration is a new approach, which combines elements of both email and group collaboration. On the one hand it spurs ad-hoc connections across the organization, but is also geared for groups of people – you can browse other people’s profiles, post messages, invite others to the conversation, attach documents etc. It seems to be suitable for modern organizations, where information freely flows across the organization, and temporary cross department teams often come together to complete projects.

The best approach then, is not social collaboration OR group collaboration, but a combination of the two. Group collaboration tools allow closely knit teams to work together. Social tools layered over these collaboration tools allow team members to access information within their group, and share it with other groups, insofar as they have rights to that information.

HyperOffice gets iCalendar Integration


Scheduling is no longer a pain

One of the greatest pains of professional life is schedule coordination. A time which is suitable for some is not suitable for others, and a perpetual game of scheduling and rescheduling ensues.

Internally, if a company is using calendar software, the pain is somewhat mitigated, as everything can be done through inbuilt calendar features (simply click the “request reschedule” button).

However, if the parties involved are from different organizations using different calendar software, the only recourse is email. Scores of inbox clogging emails fly back and forth before a time is finally agreed upon.

That was until now.

We have added iCalendar integration (also called iCal and CalDav sometimes) to HyperOffice calendars. iCalendar is a protocol which allows different calendaring systems to interact with each other – which means HyperOffice calendars can now interact with diverse iCalendar compliant calendar systems like Outlook, Exchange, Google Calendars, Yahoo, Hotmail, IBM Lotus Notes and so on.

So, if you want to invite an external party to an event, just add their email in the calendar invite field, and they will instantly be sent a meeting invitation by email. Clicking on accept in their email will instantly set up an event on their calendar and send you back a confirmation. Or, they could request a reschedule.

It also works the other way. If someone with an iCalendar compliant calendar sends you a meeting invite, clicking on “accept” instantly sets up the event on your personal calendar. And in true HyperOffice spirit, we have added more to the experience. You can browse through your schedule right there in the email body to see if you can accommodate the new event or not.

Please do try it out!

5 Benefits of an Intranet – Revisited Graphically

As I was writing the blog entry about 5 intranet benefits a couple of weeks ago, I realized people simply prefer to consume this kind of information in an intuitive, graphical format. Without further ado, please see the 5 benefits of an intranet in graphic form. Please feel free to share it. If you want to start creating your own intranet, get started here.


To embed this image on your page, please use the following code

<div><a href=” http://www.hyperoffice.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/intranet-benefits.png ” mce_href=”http://www.hyperoffice.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/intranet-benefits.png ” target=”_blank”><img src=” http://www.hyperoffice.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/intranet-benefits.png ” mce_src=”http://www.hyperoffice.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/intranet-benefits.png ” alt=”5 benefits of an intranet” /></a><br /><a href=”http://www.hyperoffice.com/intranet-software-solution/” mce_href=”http://www.hyperoffice.com/intranet-software-solution/” target=”_blank”>from HyperOffice</a></div>


5 Benefits of an Intranet – Back to the basics

This post would qualify as a part of the “back to the basics” series. While cloud based business software has gained mainstream adoption over the past couple of years, many companies are dipping their toes in it for the first time, and are still asking the “why” questions.

This post answers the “why” for intranet software. Why should my company implement an intranet at all? How will it benefit me? Here’s why.

1) Productivity. An intranet is the “home” for employees (ideally) and the intranet desktop is probably the first thing they see in the morning. An intranet which gives employees’ access to all the tools and information they need to effectively perform that day’s tasks, every day, can go a thousand miles in improving productivity. Some examples of these tools and information are:

1. Latest events and meetings

2. Outstanding tasks

3. New discussions

4. Important documents

5. Relevant news

6. Email

2) Corporate communications. Since an intranet is an employees’ main window into corporate tools and information, and occupies a very important part of their attention space, it offers a great place for the management to communicate with employees. To exemplify, imagine a large corporation with thousands of employees around the world. If everyone logs into the intranet every morning, the management can:

1. Publish important announcements

2. Advertise new initiatives and policies

3. Communicate company history, culture and positioning

4. Recognize outstanding employees

5. Gather feedback in the form of surveys and suggestions

3) Streamline processes. Modern intranets contain not only static information, but the actual tools that employees use for work. This presents a great opportunity to use intranets as a place where companies can document processes, and provide the actual tools to automate processes. Many companies use intranets to automate anything from simple processes like employee appraisals to sophisticated processes like CRM and project management.

4) Spur Collaboration. Modern intranets have collaboration and social tools built into them. Not only can employees access work related information, they can also share and work together on it within the intranet. Networking tools allow employees to discover the skills and competencies of fellow workers and bypass corporate hierarchies to connect with them directly.

5) Knowledge management. In its very broadest sense, knowledge management means capturing, organizing and retrieving corporate information. With all tools and information within the intranet, and employees constantly adding new information in the form of comments, discussions, blogs, documents; the intranet serves as a centralized place to capture important corporate information. Tools like search ensure that employees across the company network can find just the information they need to perform their jobs.

HyperOffice and ZDNet Panelists Discuss Doing Business in India (27 June ’12)

HyperOffice President Farzin Arsanjani and eminent ZDNet journalists Christopher Dawson and Larry Dignan will get together for a live online panel discussion on “doing business in India” today (27th June 2012).

If you are interested, you can register at the following link – http://www.techrepublic.com/webcasts/live-webcast-doing-business-in-india-a-primer-for-us-it/4285349

India’s spectacular economic growth story is widely known, and most companies either already have a presence in India, or are considering entering Indian markets. Such companies will find this panel discussion immensely useful. ZDNet felt that HyperOffice would offer some important insights on the subject, since we have a long standing relationship with Tata Communications, who offer HyperOffice communication and collaboration solutions to their telecom customers.

Be there!