Archive for the ‘Cloud Computing’ Category

HyperOffice featured in SMB Group Study: Moving Beyond Email – The Era of SMB Online Collaboration Suites

SMB Group, a premier consultancy group which specializes in analyzing and researching the SMB market, recently released its study “Moving Beyond Email—The Era of SMB Online Collaboration Suites”.

The SMB Group brings deep expertise in how latest technology trends impact how SMBs operate and compete. The study follows the increasing importance of distributed collaboration in SMBs, and the consequent increase in use of collaboration technology. According to Laurie McCabe, co author of the report: –

“Until recently, most small and medium businesses (SMBs) could get along just fine with a few tools such as email, calendars, document sharing, and the good old telephone. But today, many SMBs are finding that they need more effective collaboration tools to share knowledge, streamline processes, and keep everyone in the organization “on the same page”. They need to make information easier to find, share, and use as well as to connect with the right people at the right time—on any device”

As Laurie points out, email is no longer the collaboration tool of choice, and workers have moved their many of their collaboration activities to other tools. But it is not an either or situation, as email continues to be important, as most of us can testify. Keeping in mind this close relationship in mind, we had started offering integrated email and collaboration tools. In the past couple of years Google and Microsoft have also entered the arena with Google Apps and Microsoft BPOS, making the “communication and collaboration” space well defined.

An SMB Group survey found that a quarter of SMBs intend to invest in collaboration software in the coming 12 months. And the online, or “software as a service” model for collaboration solutions is ideal for SMBs because it has been designed for their specific needs and budgets.

Recently, have been numerous reports on the SaaS market by Forrester, Gartner, McKinsey, IDG and AMI on the SaaS market in general, but none deals with the online collaboration market in such detail.

The study brings more than abstract, high level information of the kind that SMBs find particularly hard to digest. The report brings a detailed assessment of the top 8 players in the online collaboration suite category. We are more than pleased that HyperOffice has been featured in a lineup that includes names like Google, Microsoft and IBM.

The intuitive “SMB Readiness Grid” compares the eight vendors in terms of their marketing strategies, solution capabilities, service offerings, and differentiation for the SMB market.

In addition, the report also brings interviews of SMB customers who have used these suites.

The purpose of the grid is not just a feature assessment of the suites, but their fit for the SMB market. We believe HyperOffice will stand out in this respect because Microsoft BPOS and Google Apps are more focused towards the more profitable enterprise segment, while our bread and butter comes from SMBs, around whom we have developed our solutions.

Journalists interested the SMB market will find bountiful insights in this research, and of course, SMBs will find it immensely useful is devising their collaboration strategy. You can download the research abstract here, and find further details on how to purchase the report.

RIP Google Wave – The Lessons we Learnt

Recap

Google Wave was born over a year ago, with Google’s weight right behind it. I remember watching a video of the Google I/O ’09 conference where Wave was announced to resounding applause by the charming Lars Rasmussen, co founder of the Google Wave project.

Right from the outset, everyone recognized Wave as a revolutionary product, built with the latest internet technologies, taking the “real time” web to a new level. Lars introduced Wave as “communication and collaboration software” but “commboration” would have been a more apt description, as it blurred the lines between email, IM, documents, wikis, text streaming, social networking, image sharing and more. It set itself an ambition no less than “redefining email”, the primary communication technology for over 40 years.

It is ironical that the gap between “Google Wave launched” and “Google Wave is dead” stories was a little over than a year.

As the readers must already know, Google Wave was formally put to rest as a stand-alone product on August 4th, low adoption by users cited as a reason.

An Analysis

In the consumer market, a drastically new technology has fair chances of taking off, because consumers like to experiment, and are forever looking for something new to cater to short attention spans. The business market however, is less venturesome, and the capabilities of a technology need to be clearly mapped to organizational needs. The important question is – what can it do for us? For example social networking and tweeting may be big hits with consumers, but are only gradually finding their way into businesses, after much debate.

There’s a big debate around why Google Wave died. We have our own opinions on why Wave didn’t take off in the business market, some of which we proposed at the time Wave started to catch on. Here are our arguments:-

Ill-defined uses

Ever since Google Wave was launched, the emphasis was always on its capabilities – you could co author “Waves” in real time character by character, you could embed images and video, you could use it as a platform to build cool applications, you could replay a wave as it evolved and so on. But there was never very clear articulation around – what can you use it for?

It was clear from the outset that Google expected the market to define the use cases for Wave. It felt that if it just put this powerful and compelling technology out there – uses would emerge from the user and developer community.

This strategy may work in the consumer market, but not in businesses. The technology follows well defined uses, defined over years of experience – collaboration on documents, text communication, audio communication, tools that help manage the customer cycle and so on. Sure, technology pushes the limits of how you can work better, but the changes are always incremental, never drastic. Software-as-a-service had to prove itself for years before being widely accepted as it is now.

No Structure

Business have also developed over years ways of thinking about its information – there is email, documents, IM, forums, wikis – each serving a somewhat separate purpose.

There is information we categorize as communication (email, IM), which is not highly structured, and does not need to be revisited often; and recurring use information, which is highly structured and needs to be visited often (documents).

Then there are different ways of how we work together on information – asynchronously (one person contributes at a time)(email) or synchronously (all participants contribute at the same time)(IM).

Google Wave threw all these different types of information – email, IM, documents, wikis, communication, collaboration, asynchronous, and synchronous – into a real time soup called a “wave”.

If that wasn’t already confusing, all waves were bundled together in a single inbox style interface. This was always calling for a new kind of “information overload” without even the benefit of familiar segregations in information types.

The whole structure was counter-intuitive from the start and expected a huge leap from its users.

The Workspace

Over years of working with businesses we have discovered that a collaboration solution needs to reflect the structure of an organization. Real time collaboration on information may be good for some situations but teams don’t need to work together just once, but on an ongoing basis, often on complex tasks involving sub tasks, deadlines, and sequencing of activities. They also need repeated access to the same information (forms, contract documents) and for information to be stored and archived for future access (if not for regulatory compliance).

Imagine different team members trying to find documents in their Wave inboxes.

These needs are best met by the “workspace” structure, which is the design principle of HyperOffice. A group workspace is a collection of all the information and tools a group needs to work together and coordinate activities – online document management, project management, shared calendars, wikis, shared address books and so on.

A permissions system allows only members to access group information and tools. Advanced permissions help distinguish the rights of members within the same group. This helps implement organization policy controls based on organizational roles. Policy control within Wave would have been a nightmare.

A single person can be a member of multiple team or project workspaces, just as is the case in organizations.

The workspace also helps achieve the HR objective of engaging and motivating employees. A workspace desktop is where a motto of the month may be displayed, or an “employee of the month” be recognized.

An Important Lesson

The Wave story also has strong lessons about how Google operates. It is well known that Google’s profits are overwhelmingly generated by its advertising business. Its Google Apps and enterprise software wing forms only a fraction of its profitability, and accordingly reflects its importance in the larger Google scheme. If Google finds something is not working out for it, it will simply drop that module/function/product or divert resources, manpower and development effort away. It is not primarily concerned about how much energy and resources business users may have expended transitioning to it. The skewed negotiating power of large vendors and small sized customers was nicely elaborated by Phil Wainewright in his article “Web giants and the helpless individual.”

A smaller company like HyperOffice, on the other hand, has a single minded focus on its collaboration business. Having no other product line or services, we devote all our energies and resources to our collaboration offerings  to ensure continued patronage from current users and win new users in a competitive market. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that our very livelihood depends on this.

Conclusion

Even if Google Wave had been successful it is hard to imagine to be used for more than as “email on steroids” or an ad-hoc collaboration tool. It didn’t having the makings, or maybe never even intended to be a full blown organizational collaboration software.

However, Google Wave has certainly left a legacy. It has pushed the limits of “real time collaboration”, and used cutting edge internet technologies in innovative ways. As Michael Arrington says, maybe it was just ahead of its time.

It will certainly be remembered as a daring attempt to topple email from its four-decade reign.

HyperOffice Up in the Air (Waves)

Apart from reflecting the buoyant mood here at HyperOffice, the blog title also literally reflects the coverage HyperOffice has received from tech media in the past couple of weeks. Since we launched the new version of HyperOffice, we have continued to attract the interest of well known bloggers, journalists and analysts following the collaboration software market. Shahab Kaviani, our Vice President, Marketing had the fortune of being interviewed by the very best in the market over the last few weeks.

Our positioning of bringing integrated online messaging and collaboration software with a laser focus on small to medium sized businesses seems to have found resonance in this fast evolving and growing market. Google Apps and Microsoft BPOS have popularized the “integrated” approach, but their focus remains towards the juicier enterprise segment.

Rich Tehrani, CEO of TMC, interviewed Shahab for TMCNet.


Laurie McCabe of SMB Group, consulting firm focusing on the specific tech needs of small to medium sized businesses, interviewed Shahab for their “SMB Spotlight” podcast series.

Phil Wainewright, writer of the influential “software as a services” blog at ZDNet, and Managing editor at eBizQ, interviewed Shahab for eBizQ’s podcast series.

Veteran Saas Collaboration Software Suite releases biggest upgrade ever

Today marks a major milestone in our company history, as we release a modern interface built with on AJAX. This release is a culmination of more than a few years of feedback from hundreds of thousands of our customers. As of today our flagship product, HyperOffice Collaboration Suite has two versions available simultaneously, referred to as the Classic version and the Modern version.  We expect that some of our customers have become accustomed to the Classic version and may not need the additional features which the new version affords, and will continue to support the classic version for the foreseeable future.

So what’s new? Here are some highlights, or you can check out this video.

– Modern Intuitive Design and User Interface

– New Color Calendar System

– Simple Customization and Branding

– Easier Administration and Onboarding

– Robust Project Management System

– New Wiki and Site Publisher

What did we do differently this time?

Since our humble beginnings in 1998, the way teams collaborate has undergone many transformations. As our target customers, small businesses and distributed teams, began to embrace new ways to work, we added new capabilities to our core messaging and collaboration suite. For example wikis became popular, and we added group wikis, people wanted more sophisticated project management tools,  so we beefed that up, road warriors wanted calendars and emails pushed to their mobile devices, so we rolled out HyperSynch, web conferencing became the norm, in comes HyperMeeting.

As you can imagine when you make so many improvements incrementally things may not gel as well as they could. 3 years ago we took a fresh look at our product and began planning for these developments. Along the way we proactively collected feedback from our customers on improvements which needed to be made. With today’s version, you will notice a fully integrated suite of collaboration and messaging tools that fit together elegantly , while being the most comprehensive in the market and simple to use.

Once we re-architected HyperOffice from the ground up, we interviewed customers, went on a many road trips to meet our clients in person.  We also stood up a Product Development Committee which is exclusively made up of customers who we meet with on a regular basis. They help us prioritize our roadmap, get specific feedback on features, designs, etc. Lastly, we spent 6 months in beta on the new version.

So here we are. A new and improved collaboration suite from one of the first SaaS companies in the market, laser focused on collaboration software and meeting the unique needs of the small medium sized businesses.  We thank our loyal customers tremendously for believing in our product, our company, and being so innovative to embrace the cloud before the tipping point as cloud computing moves into the masses.

We are proud to make such significant improvement without having to charge our customers a dollar more for all the new features or move to the new version. I think this is one of the most incredible things about the SaaS model.  It just gets better over time – for free!

Over the summer you will see more improvements aimed at helping customers adopt our product easier with usability improvements and adding customer requested features every couple months.

Company.com launches to help small businesses collaborate online via social networking to save money and boost productivity.

company_logo_11_144x81

While social networking has been all the hype lately, it’s not clear/proven how small businesses will put it to work for them. New companies sprout up daily claiming to be experts to help you leverage social networking in your small businesses. Typically they focus on building a message, report, widget, video that will get passed around and people will hear about your business. Others advise you on how to protect you reputation in communities and use communities like LinkedIn to find leads and insert yourself in relevant discussions online.

How many communities can one possibly be active in? There’s no shortage of online communities; Salesforce.com has Chatter, Google just put out Buzz, LinkedIn is my favorite so far, and of course Facebook.

We come back to the question, how can businesses put social networking to work for them. I think Company.com has the answer. What they do different is structure the conversations and match up people so business owners and management can find conversations around their toughest problems. They do this by creating communities with experts they have vetted who contribute with solid advice. I’ve sifted through and have been impressed so far.

Company.com wants to be there for you from cradle to crave, by helping you find information around every step of the small business cycle i.e. how to raise finances, technology advice, how to streamline operations, advice on business strategy, and more.

They are backed by a very experienced management team – In my opinion the single biggest factor to the success of new business ventures. They also bring that human touch to helping businesses save money by vetting vendors, side-by-side comparisons, negotiating the best deal for their members- you- the small business owner. Not just another ad-based non-discriminating aggregator like business.com

They want to “help businesses make money and save money.” We’ll, we’re all for that.
At HyperOffice “ Our mission is to empower growing organizations with technology traditionally available only to large enterprises, and help them achieve business growth, competitive advantage and success.”

You can see why we decided to get behind Company.com and help small businesses compete with more effective and lower cost collaboration software. I hope you’ll check them out, and I look forward to watching them become a household name.

Collaboration Software is a hit with Virtual Assistants

advadirectory

Last night the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce sponsored a webinar event for their members titled Leveraging Collabortive Virtual Office Technology for Virtual Assistants and Solopreneurs, where they invited HyperOffice to present our collaboration software suite. This was the second event we have done together, in response to the tremendous amount of interest we have from the Virtual Assistant community. Seems like the downturn in the economy is leading to greater demand for Virtual Assistants – since small businesses are laying off full-time staff, yet still have to keep up with the demands of trying to grow their business.

One of the common themes during the webinar was business productivity online suites  like HyperOffice help Virtual Assistants save time in trying to service their customers, allowing them to take on more clients in the same amount of time. One time saving trick  Danielle Keister, VACOC Founder and Virtual Assistant expert, shared with the group was creating a virtual drive which can be shared with between Virtual Assistants and their clients.

Danielle demonstrated how  HyperDrive can be setup in a couple minutes to create a central document repository where documents can be stored securely while giving access to clients to view and upload files and documents. As compared to other tools on the market, HyperDrive allows you to store multiple versions of a shared document without the clutter of sifting through multiple files with built in document version controls right from your windows explorer (also available on Mac). HyperOffice welcomes the Virtual Assistant community to try HyperOffice and take advantage of our deep domain expertise on setting up your virtual office to streamline your business using HyperOffice.

SaaS for SMBs – choosing the right vendor

calc-100x150

Choose the Right Vendor

Many small and medium sized businesses are quickly learning the benefits of buying SaaS, especially in this tough economy – but how do you go about making sure you pick the right vendor?  HyperOffice has published a white paper to help you ask the right questions, and will be offering a webinar hosted by Rusty Weston. Rusty was previously head of Research for InformationWeek for about 8 years and technologist focusing on distributed global knowledge workers.

According to a recent LinkedIn poll, http://polls.linkedin.com/p/32425/gwwxn the most popular applications which SMBs are going to SaaS for are online collaboration software followed by CRM. If you are considering SaaS the criteria for picking the right vendor is very similar (aside from meeting your feature/functional needs). To read the whitepaper and register for the webinar we are sponsoring on June 5th visit http://www.hyperoffice.com/saas-reviews-for-smbs/