HyperOffice helps customers become resellers
Small Business Tech By James E. Gaskin, Network World, 10/04/07
One of the complaints about Software-as-a-Service
(SaaS), at least from large companies, is the inability for a customer
to modify the software. Enterprises often buy applications based on a
database, such as Oracle, and have in-house programmers to make any
Small businesses rarely have that option, because they almost always
buy packaged applications. If the products do allow modifications,
outside programmers must be hired.
generally offer more features than most
small businesses actually use. However, vertical markets always need
things tweaked to better fit users, and resellers often want to help
control client applications. Until now, both groups were out of luck
unless they had the money to undertake huge programming projects. But
in an interesting twist on the "mash-up" idea, HyperOffice
now supports developers modifying their software for vertical markets
and resellers adding their own look and feel, and a few tweaks, for
Randy Looper, president of Carolina Regional, a Web
development company that's part of the larger Carolina Media Group,
said, 'We focus on advertising for real estate agencies and
high-performing agents, and we used HyperOffice internally. By building
on some special Real Estate features
HyperOffice developed, we offer
our customers a version of HyperOffice we call Real Smart Office.
Modified for the demands of Real Estate professionals, the software
supports our customers with as few as two users to our largest account
with 183 users."
Carolina Media Group consists of 12 employees scattered around
South Carolina working from home offices. Each group manages its own
HyperOffice area, and Looper administers all of them.
"Each group has their own group calendar
, and I combine calendars
and know where everybody is and what they're working on," Looper says.
Using HyperOffice internally makes it easy for Looper to convince Real
Estate agent clients the value of the collaboration service. "When I
give demonstrations, I just show them my account and how we use it, and
they all say they've got to have it."
Supporting resellers and developers wasn't part of a grand
plan for HyperOffice, according to Farzin Arsanjani, president of
HyperOffice. "We don't have a rigid definition of developers that
separates them from customers," he said. "Resellers have the tools, the
training, and the option to rebrand HyperOffice. Some do and some
don't." Resellers also have the closest relationship with customers, so
they know what features need to be added or modified.
Arsanjani continued, "We feel that customers (end users,
developers and resellers) should have the tools to develop HyperOffice
into what their business requires. All of our resellers found us, not
the other way around." HyperOffice provides a variety of tools for
customers to modify their own portal
page, configure user home pages, and build shared pages for outside partners.
For Looper, the critical part of his success with HyperOffice was based
on how well the software worked with Microsoft's Outlook
application. For John McTigue, Web developer at Kuno Creative
, the ability to add project management features made the big difference.
"Our HyperOffice desktop provides a link to our general project management
application designed to help our advertising and Web development
clients manage their advertising and marketing projects," McTigue says.
He became a partner in Kuno Creative when he folded his Web development
company into the Kuno operation. Kuno headquarters is in Cleveland,
while McTigue watches cows graze outside his home office window at his
farm in Sealy Texas, a fair distance outside of Houston. He's so far
out the only Internet access option he has is satellite, which he says
works quite well with HyperOffice.
Both resellers use HyperOffice internally, giving them insight
into the program from the user's point of view. Both resellers provide
the first level of support for their customers, including some advanced
configurations like synchronizing PDAs
to HyperOffice calendars
Carolina Media Group and Kuno Creative both say their relationship with
HyperOffice is a win-win-win. Their customers win, because they get a
HyperOffice version tweaked for their specific business needs,
developed and installed by a reseller they already work with and trust.
The resellers win by providing customers a valuable service with some
recurring revenue that ties the customer more tightly to the reseller.
And HyperOffice has partners convincing clients to buy into
HyperOffice, or at least a system based on HyperOffice.
What you see in a SaaS application
isn't necessarily what you
get. Sometimes you can get a version tweaked to better fit your