Archive for the ‘Collaboration Software’ Category

HyperOffice Makes Deeper Inroads into Global Collaboration Software Markets

vncNext week we will announce a new partnership with VNC – a European distributor with resellers in Europe, Middle-East and Africa. This partnership represents another important step in gradually building a carefully selected and qualified distribution channel. There has never been any doubt about the importance of a channel to the long term success of HyperOffice. The challenge has been timing and finding the right partners.

Timing

For a partnership to be successful there has to be a viable and sustainable business relationship. In other words our partners have to be successful in generating revenues and profits in order for our partnership to grow and thrive. One way partnerships don’t last long and don’t make economic sense. A few years back when we were exploring different channel models and partnerships we quickly realized that the market was not yet ready for a broad scale push to cloud based collaboration and messaging.

As a result we felt our partners would likely run into undue friction in their sales and marketing efforts. Today, the market has changed dramatically. Cloud based collaboration has moved from a niche technology to mainstream. Businesses of any size and representing any industry are comfortable with this new technology and in most cases interested to learn more. Businesses are looking to their trusted advisors (resellers, consultants, vars…etc) to guide them through their options and to help them benefit from the cloud. Resellers and partners are now in a position where they can choose to embrace this new shift in how technology is sold, delivered and consumed and profit from it.

Right partner

In the traditional software/hardware sales cycle, a reseller’s economic incentive is aligned with the vendor and not the customer’s ROI. In other words the majority of the effort on the reseller’s part is focused on making the initial sale. Once the sale is made the end customer will have to spend time, more money or both to get the technology they just purchased, deployed. Even more troubling is the fact that they are fully invested in that technology and stuck with it.

This model does not work well for most organizations and in particular for smb’s who lack the resources and the time for needs analysis, contract negotiation, large capital expenditure, long term IT planning and deployment. In the cloud model on the other hand the economic incentives for resellers, customers and vendors are all aligned with maximizing customer’s roi and with maintaining it through the life of the relationship. In this new model the customer’s investment in technology is spread over the life of their contract and is not concentrated all upfront. As a result the customer is in control and can cancel a service with minimum downside if they are not happy.  Therefore, the successful reseller will have to adjust their business processes from sales and marketing to support to accommodate customers in this new world. The right partner for us therefore is an organization with:-

1.      An understanding and appreciation for cloud based collaboration

2.      The infrastructure, processes and mindset that can help customers drive value from HyperOffice long after the initial sale has been made

3.   The required credibility to serve as a trusted adviser to their customers and partners

An established distributor in the SaaS and cloud marketplace, VNC offers a deep understanding of the cloud based collaboration market, along with a mature sales and support infrastructure. The executives at VNC have managed to build and operate a thriving distribution business while keeping ahead of the market and identifying the next important trend.

VNC is an ideal partner to take the next step with as we work to continue to build global marketing channels for the new generation of HyperOffice services and technologies.

Collaboration Software Upped a Notch – All New HyperOffice Now Available

Think we have been adding new features to HyperOffice at a blinding pace (wikis, full document search, publisher, HyperBase) in recent times? Brace yourself.

This Monday, we made available to all customers a re-invigorated, super-charged, eye-candy, ease-enhanced, all-new AJAX version of HyperOffice. This rollout is the culmination of a two year long project incorporating R&D with worldwide HyperOffice users, your invaluable feedback, 10 years of experience working with growing businesses, as well as the latest technological developments and market changes.

The New Look Calendar

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The new version brings a gorgeous re-done interface, new features, more robust existing features, and scores of subtle changes and enhancements across the suite.

It is pertinent to mention that there is more to the new HyperOffice than meets the eye. Beyond apparent feature and cosmetic changes, the back-end sees profound changes as well. The front end is now build in AJAX, the back-end has been shifted to cutting edge Java technology and we have effected far reaching architectural changes.

Apart from giving our users much greater speed and application responsiveness and more tightly integrated features, the new architecture allows us great flexibility and nimbleness to build out the HyperOffice collaboration software platform. This will allow us to quickly add features and functions in response to your feedback and market changes.

Late last year, we had announced a private beta of the new HyperOffice, where a select group of customers and HyperOffice employees tested it rigorously over a period of 10 weeks, fleshed out the bugs and helped streamline the upgraded suite.

We were pleasantly surprised, and the news made a big splash with the media, attracting coverage from mainstream publications like NYTimes, eWeek, ComputerWorld, Cmswire, InfoToday, SmallBusinessComputing and more.

And now, dear customer, the new HyperOffice is ready for you to give a spin.

For those of you who don’t want to jump right into it, the “Change Style” button on the top right allows you to keep using the old version, which has now been rechristened “classic” flavor HyperOffice.

We hope to make the new HyperOffice available to the general public very soon, so keep tuned!

Enough rambling. How about you take a first hand peek at the new HyperOffice yourself below.

New HyperOffice Video

iPad, SaaS and Collaboration

It’s incredibly thin.

So we were repeatedly reminded by Steve Jobs in his famous iPad keynote. Steve Jobs exhausted almost every glowing adjective in the English dictionary in his keynote, and the tech media panned it with almost equal ferociousness. Some say it lacks key features, while others complain about the choice of internet service providers being constrained to AT&T, while yet others rubbish it as an over hyped laptop.

But Apple’s products are known to have staying power in spite of their critics (iPod was lambasted as over hyped, over priced). iPads and iPhones have proved to be massively popular and are a part of many of our lives now.

What does the iPad mean for SaaS and collaboration? Definitely good things. In recent times, forces have conspired to make software-as-a-service the most exciting business technology around – the obvious advantages, greater bandwidths, constrained budgets because of the recession, and to no small extent, the proliferation of internet friendly mobile devices like the iPhone (HyperOffice is iPhone optimized).

The iPad is definitely an additional thrust in that direction.

Sure, the iPad does not have native applications to help with business collaboration. But it is not mainly meant for native apps. The iPad is meant primarily to be a window to the web. A convenient, fun, highly portable window to the web. And that is all SaaS applications need – a device which allows access to the internet.

In its current form, it is more positioned as a device for personal information management. But so was the iPhone. If it catches on, (and Apple devices have a knack of doing that) it will not be long before, like the iPhone, users start looking at the iPad as a device to manage business productivity.

Being lighter and having a considerably longer battery life than a laptop, users have the temptation of carrying it over a laptop, and especially if you can use it to access all your important enterprise and personal applications on the net, why not?

Google Apps Learns Business Collaboration Lessons We Learnt Years Ago

A small company issuing such a statement for tech behemoth Google, may seem delusional on the face of it. But it’s happened before, for Google, a master of search and consumer markets, cannot be everything for everyone. Its not timeline1uncommon for it to learn lessons from companies that serve niche markets, and indeed, create new niches. The hotbed of dreams that the internet is, the best ideas come most often from small companies. A few examples are YouTube, aquired by Google; Orkut, which followed MySpace; Goog.gl, which followed tiny.url etc.

The story we are talking about right now is that of Google Apps, Google’s participant in the red-hot online collaboration market, with Google mega-tonne weight behind it (remember the “Going Google” advertising blitz?).

The Google Apps Story – Head in the Clouds or Clouded Vision?

Google Apps started out in 2006 as a bundle of productivity tools (GMail, Google Talk, Google Docs, Google Calendar etc). It was a proponent of the “purely online” model of where all productivity and collaboration software would lie on google-cloudthe Internet, and be freed from local desktops. This is indeed a visionary approach, because productivity tools available on the “cloud” are universally accessible from any Internet connected computer. This allows everyone on the team to work together on a common platform and common information without being tied to their local computers – an approach immensely suitable for collaboration.

Also an approach divorced from realities of business environment.

What has happened since is a gradual concession on Google’s part to business realities, and a growing awareness of business needs. This is understandable, as Google has traditionally excelled in consumer markets, which account for all of its major successes (Google Search, GMail, Google Talk, Picasa, Orkut).

Why Experience Matters

HyperOffice, on the other hand, has been serving the growing business markets since 1998, when the first incarnation of HyperOffice was born.  We may not have Google’s resources, but organizational learning is not merely a matter of shoveling in the bucks. Over 10 years in business we have done thousands and thousands of implementations across industries, faced and resolved countless operational matters, received feedback from users on a daily basis, built our solutions bit by bit around real operational needs, learnt how to promote adoption within our users’ companies, and learnt how to smoothly transition customers into fully empowered users.

Google Apps has tried to make up for this by roping in channel partners. But most of these partners lack our depth of experience, and indeed there is a divergence of interests, as consultants share Google Apps time with other profitable solutions, and the intermediate level creates a disconnect between what end users want and what Google develops.

We Beat Em’ to It

Office 2007 Support

In June 2009, Google added support for Office 2007, where docx, xlxs or other 2007 files could be imported and converted into Google Docs’ online formats. This reflected a concession on Google’s part that MS Office was vastly popular with businesses, a fact it couldn’t ignore. But it felt that business users would be happy, as long as they could convert MS Office into Google Docs, and work on Google Docs. However, fidelity between MS Office and Google Docs remains an issue as importing MS Word into Google Docs invariably results in messed up formatting.

A lesson HyperOffice learnt 5 years ago. HyperOffice has long learnt that business users, as well as others in their business network, are so used to working with MS Office that they’re just not comfortable shifting to drastically new formats. Since 2005, HyperOffice offers document collaboration features that allow business users to collaborate online on any common file type including different versions of MS Office.

Outlook Synchronization

In June 2009, Google introduced Google Apps Sync, a utility that allows users to sync mail, calendars and contacts (not tasks) between GMail and Microsoft Outlook. Google realized that MS Outlook was so popular with business users that they virtually “lived” in it, and synchronization with it was a must.

We learnt that around 4 years ago. HyperShare was launched by HyperOffice in 2006, which allows users to sync mail, contacts, calendars AND tasks between HyperOffice and Microsoft Outlook.

To-do Lists

In July 2009, Tasks were added to GMail, a rudimentary feature which allows users to manage personal to-do lists.

HyperOffice has had task management features since 2002, where users can manage not just personal to-dos but also team projects and tasks where task timelines can be set, responsibilities be assigned and progress be tracked.

Shared Folders and Batch Uploads

In Oct 2009, Google introduced shared folders and batch uploads for Google Docs users. Shared folders allowed users to share entire folders with specified users, instead of each file individually. Batch uploads saved users the cumbersome process of uploading documents one at a time, and allowed multiple files to be uploaded and converted to Google Docs.

HyperOffice has had shared folders since it launched its document management features in 2005. HyperDrive rests on the users’ desktop like any other desktop folder, and allows users to simply drag and drop multiple files to their online account, and synch documents across computers and with their online folders.

Forums

In Dec 2009, Google added forums to Google Apps, which allows users to have threaded discussions.

HyperOffice has had forums since 2002, when we realized that discussion forums were an efficient way of having and retrieving discussions rather than overwhelming everyone’s inbox with email discussions.

File Storage

In January 2010, file storage capabilities were added to Google Apps can upload and store any file format on their Google Apps account (not just Google formats). A further concession from Google’s “purely online” approach. However, although Google touts that people can now collaboratively work on these files, there are no collaborative features to speak of.

Since 2005, HyperOffice has not only allowed users to store files of any format, but also includes collaboration features like versioning, notifications, permissions, audit trails which allows users to see who made changes, when they were made, revert to earlier versions, keep participants informed when changes take place, manage access etc.

HyperOffice Keeps Upgrading

Even while Google learns important lessons about the needs of businesses, HyperOffice has continued to upgrade its suite, and offers many features that Google hasn’t gotten to yet. Some recent updates – we added simple do-it-yourself database applications and web forms in October, full document search and an incredibly easy to use site publisher in late October, and group wikis in December.

THE Lesson

But our most important lesson, which Google is yet to learn is – business users, especially small businesses are looking for more than just software tools. They want assistance at every step – from being trained to use the software, to having real people who treat their problems at priority, to having business advice about how to best use software tools. They want to be less and less involved in the technical side of software, and simply concentrate on doing their work better. And it is this lesson we have incorporated in our business model.

Wikis Part of Free Upgrade to HyperOffice Collaboration Sofware

The Wiki Phenomena

wiki-blog-11We are all familiar with Wikipedia, and have come across it often as we search the internet. It is the largest encyclopedia ever compiled by man – more than 7 times Britannica, the largest traditional encyclopedia.

The incredible thing about Wikipedia is that its content is entirely contributed collaboratively by volunteers – lay users like you and me. The reason why volunteers participate is the incredible simplicity of the underlying “wiki software” ( “wiki” is Hawaiian for “quick”). The site is comprised of web pages anyone can make changes to, as simply as typing into Text Pad. As soon changes are saved, they are available to everyone across the globe. Talk about simple collaboration!

And it is exactly this fact that has lead to its gargantuan growth to the greatest repository in just 6 years.

Wikis and Your Business

The Wikipedia success story certainly has great lessons and applications for businesses – especially small businesses. Collaboration is the heart and soul of successful business in today’s age – to be able to work together effectively in a network of employees, teams, partners, vendors and customers. Wiki software allows companies to do this with incredible ease – as simply as getting on a collaborative group wiki web page, adding content, and saving it to be instantly available to everyone else in the group.

Of course, company wikis need to have more structure and policy controls than a public wiki like Wikipedia. Only group members have access to a group wiki, and there should be tools to track the collaboration process.

HyperOffice Wikis are here – Completely Free Upgrade!

In our constant attempt to bring you cutting edge collaboration software technology, and bring you the best solutions in the market – we have added wikis to our range of collaboration features. HyperOffice wikis bring wiki software molded perfectly for your small business context. And in HyperOffice tradition, this upgrade is available to all users without any additional cost. Here are some of the things you can do: –

–    In the spirit of our theme for 2010, “no geeks required”, HyperOffice wikis are an incredibly simple way to work together. Just access your group wiki, add text, images, links to other company wiki pages, files or formatting, as simply as working with a word processor like MS Word.

–    Create highly customized group wikis with branding, html code, and collaboration modules.

–    Create unlimited group wikis sites for internal or external groups with as many interlinked wiki pages as you like.

–    Create policy controls around group wikis. Manage access permissions, and define role based access level.

–    Track collaboration by automatically recording the history of changes to your wiki pages, and who made changes.

–    Choose to get notified whenever changes are made to any wiki page.

HyperOffice wiki screenshot

wiki-blog

Collaboration with HyperOffice Got Even Better : Full Document Search, Improved Publisher, More!

In the spirit of keeping our customers in step with the cutting edge of collaboration technology, and making our customer experience ever simpler and more powerful, we added multiple new features to HyperOffice. That’s what software-as-a-service is all about, isn’t it?

The latest up-gradations are the latest in a flurry of activity in recent months (we added HyperBase online database management features to HyperOffice, won the Skype for Business award, and partnered with Tata Communications and Etelos). Whew! Eventful year its been!

So, the new features.

1) Full Document Text Search – HyperOffice online document management features got a boost and finding corporate information just got easier. Now users can search through the entire contents of the documents they have within shared folders. Rather than having to remember the title or author, remembering any word or phrase in a document is good enough for you to find it. In addition, users can avail advanced search feature like searching by author, title, creation date etc. Although this new feature requires considerable computing power, we added it because this is something our customers have been asking for.

This new feature also gives HyperOffice the distinction of being the only online collaboration software in the market to include free full text search for documents without any additional charge.

2) HyperOffice Site Publisher got Turbo Charged! – If you thought creating intranet and extranet workspaces with the HyperOffice Site Publisher was easier before, you just gotta check out the latest version!

We have completely redesigned the Publisher to be easier and more fun to work with. You create completely freeform pages by just dragging and dropping elements wherever you want them to be on the page. All you need to do is drag and drop text boxes, collaboration modules, navigation, images, links, buttons or any other element to any area on the page you choose. No intranet software allows you to create completely customized pages for departments, teams, clients, partners with such ease. This is easier than any full fledged website publisher I have personally ever visited.

publisher-new

Just start dragging and dropping and transform your blank canvas into a group workspace like the following literally within minutes:-

new-publisher

More – In addition, HyperOffice has made changes to site administration tools, which lets the administrator perform their tasks from a central console with ease – add or delete users, specify permissions and roles, create new groups or delegate responsibility. In addition, administrators can easily view site statistics and reports they might need to measure the effectiveness of their portal.

Changes to each user’s admin tools simplifies how each site user manages their personal account and settings.

Skype and HyperOffice – a winning combination in collaboration

Skype business collaboration software HyperOffice has been a big fan of Skype for many years, along with over 450 million other users who are using Skype. As of this summer Skype is delivering more international calls than any other telecom company in the world. With so many users on Skype – and its’ popularity amongst our customers, we recently changed the default IM and VOIP tool inside HyperOffice to Skype. Now clients can improve their collaboration experience inside  HyperOffice. i.e. if you are sharing documents in HyperOffice, and want to chat in real time you can click on IM (at the top right of the HyperOffice interface) and open a Skype session.  Unlike collaboration tools with private chat environments they’ve built themselves – with HyperOffice & Skype chances are the person you’re working with is on Skype too. Or lets say you’re working with shared contacts in HyperOffice, you can click on the small Skype icon next to the name to initiate a call (even free international calls if they’re Skype users) or chat with the stored contact. You can check out these two features in the video.

HyperOffice has had a lot of success using Skype internally – so when we heard Skype for Business was holding a contest, we entered, and we won first place! You can check Skype’s blog to see how HyperOffice improve sales with the help of Skype here.

I expect Skype will only get better (faster) now that Skype has broken away from eBay, and improve its’ application in the collaboration world further as more project teams and small business jump on board their well packaged Skype for Businesses offerings.

Thank you Skype for the award!

What’s the Buzz? Enter Collaboration Software, Exit Email

brand-logosAs our dear readers must already know, last month Shahab co authored a white paper with tech whiz James Gaskin on the subject of “managing the email overload“. Email overload is a problem almost everyone faces, and many novel strategies have been suggested to deal with it. Our white paper was our humble take on managing the email torrent.

To rewind, we had suggested that much of the problem of email overload comes not from spam, or even pesky online salesmen, or even journals we subscribed for before the beginning of time. The problem arises from internal corporate communications, or using email for the wrong things within the corporate boundaries, namely, coordination of schedules, collaborating on documents, delegating tasks, making group decisions. We had further gone on to say that the solution was to move to online collaboration software for the above stated purposes. This would achieve the dual purpose of drastically reducing the email deluge, as well as improve business productivity.

We seem to have struck a chord. The whitepaper lead to a new torrent, albeit a welcome one. The whitepaper got wide coverage, both by niche blogs, as well as some of the most well known blogs in the tech industry. Some flattering coverage is as follows:-

ZDNet – Take the Email Test – Can collaboration tools save time and money?

CMS Wire – Working Smarter – 4 Potential Ways to Avoid Email Chaos

Smallbiztechnology.com – Get Rid of Email In Favor of Proper Tools: Boost Productivity & Reduce Your InBox

TMCNet – Email Overload or Bankruptcy?

Collabo – Collaboration Software & Email: Designing Tools for the Problem at Hand

Mac tech – HyperOffice kicks off new webinar series for SMBs

Thanks a lot guys! We hope we were able to bring value to your readership!

Google Apps Sync – Old Wine in Google Bottle?

app-syncA few days ago, Google launched Google Apps Sync, a plug-in for MS Outlook, which allows users of Google Apps to sync mail, contacts and calendars with MS Outlook. Additionally, Google has positioned its new tool as an “Exchange alternative”, where it acts as a backend for Outlook, and saves businesses the costs and hassles of setting up Microsoft Exchange for business email, contacts and calendars.

Google has been trying to enter the enterprise market very aggressively with Google Apps, and this was the company’s acknowledgment that it is impossible to gain a foothold in the enterprise messaging and collaboration market, without offering integration with Outlook, which is THE favorite software tool of workers.

Well, what we have to say is, good morning Google.

Been There, Done that

HyperOffice has been firmly entrenched in the Exchange alternative market for SMBs since early 2006, when we had launched HyperShare, our Outlook integration plug-in.

Over many years of our experience offering online productivity solutions to growing companies, we learnt that there is a compelling need for a Microsoft Exchange alternative, especially in small to medium sized businesses. These companies would love to have the feature set of MS Exchange, which can bring great productivity gains (business email; shared calendars, contacts and tasks), but the thousands of dollars in costs and expertise needed to manage it are beyond the reach of most growing businesses.

We thought we could leverage the web based, software-as-a-service approach, where the infrastructure and management of the backend messaging system would be our responsibility, while customers could simply use the features of Outlook, by paying a low monthly subscription fees. Of this was born HyperShare.

Collateral Damage – Google’s “Micrososft Exchange Killer” Kills Outlook Search

Google Apps Sync’s release was received with great enthusiasm and fanfare, and colorful descriptions – “Google treads on Microsoft” (why do I see a big foot squashing a bug), “Google goes for Microsoft’s jugular” (gulp!).

The euphoria was short lived. Microsoft’s team soon gleefully discovered and informed the world of bugs in the Google plug-in, where the tool has a conflict with, and shuts down Outlook’s search capabilities.

Soon, Google itself discovered more issues, like the inability of Google Apps Sync to work with some Outlook plugins like Microsoft Office Outlook Connector, Acrobat PDF Maker Toolbar and Outlook Change Notifier, and more.

What about Task Synchronization Eh?

Those used to using MS Exchange as the backend for their Outlook would notice an important omission in new Google new tool’s feature set. As Google proudly announced synching for mail, contacts and calendars, one may hardly notice that it does not include synching for tasks. Shared tasks are one of the very important collaborative features of Outlook, where teams can manage team projects by creating tasks, assigning responsibilities and tracking progress.

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.