Archive for the ‘Online Collaboration’ Category

Demystifying the Software Release Process

There is an old joke in the software business that likens developers with artists that produce their work in excess purely for the love of creating. This often results in a highly developed application that falls a bit behind scheduled release.

As many of you may know, we are in the process of releasing the most significant update to our system in over ten years. Since the software release process is unique to our industry you may only know this through technical jargon like “Beta” and “Alpha”, you may ask what this really means or why is this process in place?

Currently we are using the new HyperOffice system with our staff internally, and we love it! In fact, we are eagerly awaiting the green light from development to open it up for public beta- meaning that you will soon be able to use the beta version as well.

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A view of the new calendar system in AJAX

The unique characteristic in software development is that it exists in a market that is rapidly evolving.  Being “in the cloud” we are able to quickly release updates and feature without any system downtime or installs on our client’s computers. This allows us to release the new version in phases. Many of you may already notice a few minor advancements rolling through from this release.

underconstruction1Why is the process important?

By conducting our testing in real-world environments, we are able to identify potential vulnerability, and quickly resolve it to ensure that our users never experience a compromise of data. We review all feedback and make adjustments accordingly; this creates an application that is designed by the users of the system.

Better Security and Stability
More Features and functionality
Simpler and More Intuitive User Interface

This not only makes our product feature rich and extremely stable, but it also is keeps it fast- which is very important when you are in the cloud.

What do the phases such as “Beta/Alpha” actually mean?

Simply put, these are steps in the release lifecycle. Without getting too technical, it all starts with the pre-alpha version, which contains all of the intended functionality of the final version, but precedes any extensive testing. The subsequent phases are Alpha (developed for an extensive private testing group), Private Beta (in which a limited release may be made available), Public Beta (a wider beta community) and finally full release.

Now, it is true that there are a number of other phases that are often thrown into the mix- this is a high level view.

You can help! And benefit too!

There are two ways we want you to get involved in this process. You may be involved in one of the other, or even both!

HyperOffice Product Development Committee: This is a group of HyperOffice clients that play an important part in the ongoing development and enhancement of our product. On average the commitment is about 1 hour a month, but in return, our development team hears your requests directly.

HyperOffice Beta Program: We encourage all interested clients to take part in the beta program of the new HyperOffice. This will give you full access to the new version as well as the ability to switch back to the classic version (your current version) at any time.

Click here to sign-up


Online Collaboration Moves East with HyperOffice

online-collaboration-indiaThese are exciting times at HyperOffice. The latest in a flurry of activity – in a pioneering move, HyperOffice has partnered with Tata Communications, the communications wing of Tata, one of India’s largest and oldest industrial groups. Under this partnership Tata Communications will offer the HyperOffice Collaboration Suite along with the high-speed data and voice tools that it delivers to business subscribers in India and 200 other countries around the world.

In the new millennia, emerging markets like India present a lucrative destination for companies, as these markets gain in affluence. India, that ancient culture, is now one of the most resurgent countries in the world, continuing to achieve astounding rates of economic growth. India has always very much been part of, and has contributed to the internet revolution. It is one of the most well connected countries in the world – the third-largest telecom market in the world and the second-largest wireless market. Broadband subscribers increased to 5.69 million in February 2009, up from 180,000 in March 2005. Research firm Informa forecasts mobile broadband revenues will reach $3.9 billion in Indian in 2013.

It is a ripe time to enter the business SaaS market in India, which is just starting to pick up. Indian companies and entrepreneurs are respected globally for their industry and professionalism. One of the largest exporters of IT services in the world, a huge number of Indian companies are part of a global network of suppliers, vendors, customers and partners.  For companies for whom working with global teams is daily fare, HyperOffice’s online collaboration software offers a low cost, quick, and user friendly way to collaborate, share documents, manage projects, coordinate schedules, have dicussions and much more .

Moreover, ISP’s like Tata Communications, which have a massive business-consumer base, are perfectly poised to promote SaaS solutions in the business market. They have well established relationships with small and medium sized companies, and a deep understanding of their business needs. SaaS solutions are synergistic with their core connectivity solutions, and can be offered as a value added service for the universal need of collaboration that exists in every organization. We expect this to become a lucrative business for Tata, and a model that ISPs in the US might want to follow.

Read our press release @ http://www.hyperoffice.com/online-collaboration-india/

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

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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

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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/

Email Overload solved by Online Collaboration

Email overload is starting to become recognized as the biggest culprit of lost productivity. I began researching this topic a couple weeks ago and found that just in the last 3 months alone there have been articles written by the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, segments on TV news stations, and dozens of blog entries trying to wrestle with this problem. A very recent Basex Research study has found that information overload, including email interruptions, cost businesses $900 billion annually in terms of productivity. I found that there are a few distinct approaches to this problem.

The first group of solutions involves best practices. For example, filing emails into folders, signing a truce with your co-workers to not always reply to all and use subject lines more effectively, don’t read email in the morning, and the list goes on. The second, is managing spam. Buying the latest spam filter, or going with a business email service that will do this for you…well, and how to avoid getting on these lists. The third approach assumes that if you are getting too many emails you have some broken internal business process that needs to be streamlined and email should not be used in ways it was not intended. For example, using email to collaborate on documents, scheduling meetings, getting updates on projects, etc.  Moving to online workspaces is where I think the biggest improvements can be made. I speak with so many businesses each day who have to collaborate but are using email to share information with their team.

To better understand the causes of email overload and how to improve productivity while cutting back on email is what we discuss in a white paper published today at http://www.hyperoffice.com/business-email-overload Please review this study and join us for a live webinar where our special guest speaker, James Gaskin, a well respected columnist who writes on technology topics for SMBs at NetworkWorld and IT World will discuss this topic in detail. This online seminar is open to the public and we expect a lively discussion about how to solve email overload at your organization. Read more and register for the May 28th webinar here