2013 state of collaboration – Report

Collaborative Strategies, a leading consultancy which closely follows the collaboration software market, just released its annual report on the “state of collaboration” in 2013. Companies looking to implement collaboration software, or already using it, will take a lot away from this study in terms of experiences of other companies.  The main findings of the study are as follows (with my comments):

1) Users said they mainly used a collaboration solution to coordinate work with others, keep on top of project status, and keep track of colleagues.

2) 82% felt “cutting cycle time” and “improving teamwork” were the greatest benefits of using collaboration software.

3) Surprisingly, in terms of satisfaction almost 50% were somewhat happy with the collaboration/social tools they were currently using, but 35% were not very happy. This is a strong message to vendors that there is room to improve user experience.

4) The industries where collaboration tools were used the most were Sales and Marketing, IT, Operations, Customer Support, and R&D.

5) There is a concerted movement from using collaboration software for internal use to using it for collaboration with partners, clients, sub-contractors, etc. outside the corporate firewall. This makes sense because people are frustrated with using email for external collaboration, and finally it is easier to do via collaboration software.

6) 60% of the members of management said they understand the functions/benefits of collaboration software compared to just 10% in 2009.

7) 65% of users felt ease-of-use was more important compared to 24% who wanted more features. At HyperOffice we try hard to arrive at a balance. We call it “keeping it simple without losing value.

8 ) Many of collaboration tools in the market are now best categorized as collaborative or social “suite” tools, i.e. many functions integrated, rather than a tool that focuses on one function and tries to be “best-of-breed.” HyperOffice has always taken this approach. We were one of the first “integrated” solutions in the market and believe that teams work most efficiently when business information and tools are unified in a single interface (read our whitepaper about the benefits of integrated collaboration software)

9) Most solutions in the market average $15-25, but a number of companies do “disruptive” pricing including Podio ($9/u/m), Teambox ($5/u/m), MangoSpring ($6/u/mo), Apptivo ($10/user/mo) and HyperOffice whose pricing starts at $7/u/m. Interestingly, 57% of users surveyed felt that collaboration/social tools should cost less than$10/user/month.



5 Reasons Why ‘Cloud’ Should Be Part Of An Effective Business Continuity Plan

Self-preservation is the primary law of nature… and may I add – business. Business continuity plans are therefore an essential part of business.

To create a business continuity plan, we have to identify internal and external threats to both hard and soft assets of the company – but who can really prepare for an earthquake, violent storms, tsunamis or tornadoes? Who can be ready when such calamities strike? These may not have been immediate concerns before, but we’ve seen Mother Nature strike one too many times to ignore a contingency plan.

Nowadays, business continuity has become an unpredictable variable. Timely enough, we now have the technology to protect our precious data – cloud computing. Because of cloud computing services, we can safely tuck away our data in remote data centres. If you have not yet adapted ‘cloud’ services as part of your business continuity plan, here are 5 reasons why you should reconsider it:

Safety of “Soft” Business Assets = Business Continuity

Cloud computing has 3 service models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS). Businesses can use these 3 services to host all of their “soft” assets such as: data, CRM, servers, tools, software etc. This ensures that, come what weather, virus or other contingency, the company’s data is secure.

Though you may ask, what if it was the data centres who experience the “unexpected contingencies”? Great question. They’ve thought of that as well, that’s why data centres have backups of your data, and backups of backups. Unlike the usual in-house IT servers, data centres are all about hardware muscle.

Stability = Business Continuity

Because your entire system is hosted on a remote server with much more muscle (hardware), you can count on its stability compared to an in-house IT. The reason why most systems crash or fail is because their in-house IT doesn’t have the hardware to churn the processes of several users. As your business gets larger, it’ll be hard to keep things on track unless you buy/increase your hardware. So, by leveraging on the hardware muscle of cloud services, your system becomes ‘more’ stable.

Faster = Customer Satisfaction = Business Continuity

When we need speed, we need better hardware. Cloud computing services have stacks and columns of servers with ‘super’ capacities. When we avail of, say SaaS, we are letting the servers of the cloud computing company do all the heavy lifting re: processes, software, storage. Compared to their hardware our computers, even if it has an i7 processor, are still mice. When we leverage the capacities and capabilities of these “heavy duty” computers, we can do our work faster because there is no processing happening on our end.

Reduced Operating Costs = Business Continuity

Cloud computing services help you reduce operating costs significantly! For example, you have a graphic design company that functions on 30 computers. For your employees to work, you need a graphic design software – let’s say Photoshop. Imagine the cost of having to purchase 30 licenses for Photoshop in order to install it on every employee’s computer. That’s quite an expense.

When you adapt the ‘cloud’, you can install just a single licensed software on the server and then it can be accessed by all of your employees. But you only need one license because technically the software is installed on just one computer (the server).

Global Workforce = Business Continuity

Wherever you are in the world, you can access the cloud. So whether your office is in the U.S., having global branches/reaches is possible – and it’s cheaper. And you won’t have to worry about latency problems – your data travelling from the US to Asia – because they are in the internet, so you just need the right bandwidth. The beauty of cloud computing services, such as that of Netsuite’s CRM or HyperOffice’s collaboration solutions, is that you see data real-time!

I’m sure that it is every entrepreneur’s dream to expand and launch their business internationally, as well as to keep their business alive long-term – with cloud computing software that dream ain’t too far to reach.

About the author

Vanessa Parks is a Freelance Systems Analyst and Cloud Storage Consultant. She has been an advocate of Desktop virtualisation and unified computing for improved work efficiency and performance. She also has a passion in dancing, cooking and playing golf.

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

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

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

(click to enlarge)

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

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

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

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

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



Guest Post – Benefits of Cloud Computing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author

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

Infographic – Cloud Collaboration in Healthcare

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

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

Click to enlarge



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

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

Not so quick.

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

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

Social intranets and knowledge management

Shortcomings of knowledge management in traditional intranets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I swear it wasn’t me, it was email

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

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

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

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

And I realized I had done it again…

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

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

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

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

And I ask of thee…WHY NOT?

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

McKinsey Study – The Value of Social Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you reaping these benefits yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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