Archive for April, 2012

Should your business take the Google Drive?

After years of rampant speculation, Google has finally released its cloud storage service, naming it quite what everyone had expected – Google Drive.

For those forever on the lookout for the next exciting internet thing, Google Drive is not an unprecedented new product out of Google’s hat. Google Drive is Google Docs rebranded, plus added functionality. That is why your Google Docs (Documents) tab now redirects to “Google Drive”. Google Docs, I am guessing, will only refer to Google’s web based office authoring tools henceforth.

Though not totally new, Google likely saw Google Drive as a repositioning exercise to make its presence felt in the fast growing consumer storage segment with players like DropBox, Box etc.

It is interesting to see how Google positions Google Drive’s – “now all your stuff, work or play, is in one place”.   So, Google Drive is seen as a kind of crossover service which can be used to store personal as well as work documents. The question then, is, do you want to be using Google Drive for work?

A couple of facts immediately scream NO!

1) Scary privacy terms. As has been widely reported, Google Drive’s privacy terms contain some chilling clauses, which would deter anyone who is uploading anything other than a recipe (assuming it’s not a secret family recipe handed down the ages).

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

2) Do you really want to mix work and personal documents? Though as a personal user, there is a temptation to manage all documents from a single place, it would be an utter nightmare for an administrator. Imagine multiple people having multiple copies of sensitive office documents in their personal accounts, with Google’s privacy terms added on top – a security scenario akin to trying to stop air with a sieve.

Besides, do you want to have that kind of data scatter in the company? Efficient information management and collaboration is all about having central copies of data that everyone can access, and that can be easily tracked through changes. Definitely not happening when everyone has their own copy.

So although individuals are always going to be tempted to upload an office document to Google Drive to take a peek later at home, companies will certainly not want to endorse it as a solution.

3) Is data divorced from processes? A larger point – although companies want to store and secure their data, and access it remotely, is this data really divorced from company processes and other information management applications?

Google Drive and many other solutions are predicated on the assumption that collaboration in an organization begins and ends with cloud storage. In business practice however, every document or bit of data relates to some process or transaction.  For example company projects are associated with project specs and resources, meetings are associated with meeting agendas, intranet pages associated with HR forms and policies, a CRM transaction associated with customer documents and so on. With data stored in a separate application, users have to manually move documents between applications all the time.

For this reason, document storage in HyperOffice is not stand alone, but offered in the context of other collaboration applications in HyperOffice – project management, scheduling, intranets, or database apps. Even other serious enterprise solutions like SharePoint recognize this, and see documents in the larger context of company processes and information flows.


5 business uses of iPad (and Android tablets) powered by HyperOffice

So you can’t have enough of your iPad. You use it to browse the net, watch your favorite video, read the news (or a book), check the weather, tweet your opinions, find your way and slingshot Angry Birds. You’re basically inseparable.

Just when you thought you had seen all of iPad’s wonders, iPad’s power can now be extended to work as well. In Steve Job’s words, “there is an app for that” – and it is HyperOffice. Without further ado, here are some business things you can do with HyperOffice:

1. Share and work together on business documents

With HyperOffice you can store and organize your business documents online, together with permissions, version control, comments and more. Now you can use your iPad to access these documents. You can also use free third party WebDav tools to edit and work together on these documents with colleagues.

2. Manage corporate mail

HyperOffice is a corporate email service where you can set up dedicated email for your business – You have two ways in which you can access this email on your iPad.

–  Use the HyperOffice web app to access email through an interface specially designed for your iPad.

–  Push corporate email to your native iPad email app. So as soon as an email arrives in your corporate inbox, it is instantly pushed down to your iPad email app.

3. Manage projects

HyperOffice’s web app allows you to use your iPad as a project management tool. You can manage all aspects of a team project – create projects, add tasks and activities, set dependencies, assign responsibilities, set timelines and priorities, attach resources – from a single interface.

4. Manage and share work schedules

You can also create group calendars that everyone on your team can see on their iPad. This ensures that everyone is on top of group schedules. You can also set up meetings and send out invites directly from the calendar console. You can even sync with your native iPad calendar and share events that you set up on your iPad calendar. So if you create an event on your iPad calendar, it with instantly show up on your teams’ iPad calendar as well – isn’t that cool?

5. Manage and share corporate contact lists

Like calendars, you can access and manage your corporate contacts, all categorized in groups and lists (HR, Marketing, important clients, partners – anything you like) right on your iPad. Your other team members have access to these contacts as well (provided they have the rights). Also, like calendars, you can sync these contacts with your native iPad address book, and share contacts with teammates.

So, what are you waiting for? Go extract productivity from your iPad! Find more information about the HyperOffice iPad app here.

Guess what’s coming soon…? Be Social (and productive) at work!

The moment of social business is here

It is a great moment in the history of social collaboration. The idea itself is not new. Much has been written over the last 2 years about what enterprise software can learn from the principles of “social” design of popular consumer tools like FaceBook and Twitter – the impact on user adoption, on information access, on time saving, on productivity, and indeed, on the fundamental structure of organizations.

There are also scores of solutions in the market which specialize in “social collaboration” – Yammer, Chatter, Podio, SocialText and so on.

However, the last 2 years can be best described as the early beginnings of the social business movement.  Experts were just starting to flirt with the idea and its implications, and only a handful of bold companies were implementing and experimenting with this new approach. Over the last 2 years, the movement has matured, gained strength, and is now at a cusp. Although not yet close to mainstream adoption, the approach has been tried, vetted, and oozes promise.

The shortcomings of social collaboration solutions today

However, “social collaboration” software today suffers from various shortcomings. Although they claim to be more than “Facebook for business”, most current social collaboration tools offer little more than thin networking and social messaging (or wall messaging) capabilities. This approach may be great for fostering cross organizational connections and communication, but is apparently not suited for structured business needs (project management, document management, scheduling). Other social collaboration tools see themselves as “glue”, where third party applications can be plugged on top of their social layer. However, the integration in this case is limited at best (because of the divergent agendas of the social collaboration vendor and third party), and importantly, the plugged-on applications have no inter-integration. In a true collaboration solution, every piece interacts with other pieces.

The problem of current social collaboration solutions, in our view, is a lack of collaboration depth.

On the other hand, traditional collaboration software providers like Google Apps (Google Plus is NOT a social collaboration app!) and Office 365, by virtue of their size, and their user bases and positions to defend, are understandably slow and cautious in making bold changes. For this reason they have not entered the social collaboration market in a bold way (Office 365 has some basic networking features).

Guess what’s coming soon?

At HyperOffice, we have the nimbleness of a startup, and more than 10 years of experience of developing collaboration software for SMBs. We have the goods to create a social collaboration software with substance.

And we are going to.

We are within weeks of launching new social capabilities to our HyperOffice Collaboration Suite.

While we are not revealing much at this point, the best way to describe the new features is that structured collaboration needs of businesses have been combined with the open, democratic design of social media tools. The following graphic is a good conceptual depiction:

If you want to be informed when we launch, please visit the following page, and reserve your spot on our invitation list. Don’t miss out!