by Paula J. Hane
Calling it “the most significant update to our system in over 10 years,” HyperOffice (www.hyperoffice.com) released a beta version of its cloud-computing software for small and medium-sized businesses. After 2 years of research and development, working with HyperOffice users worldwide, the company rebuilt its entire collaboration suite using Ajax and an array of Web 2.0 technologies to power improvements in performance, scalability, and security. HyperOffice integrates a range of software-as-a-service (SaaS) business applications over the internet-shared calendars and contacts, business-class email, document and project management, web conferencing, databases and web forms; forums, polls, and wikis; project portals, intranets and extranets; permissions, versioning, commenting, backup, and more.
While the company is capitalizing on the growing interest in hosted business collaboration services and faces competition from companies such as Google and Zoho, HyperOffice is clearly targeting companies with 5 to 250 employees, perhaps with no in-house IT staff, and no funds for contract consultants. The company says the new suite is more intuitive and is so easy that companies can dispense with IT department involvement. “We can get you up and running in as little as an hour,” says Farzin Arsanjani, president of HyperOffice. “There’s no hardware to buy, no software to install. No geeks required.”
“Our customers demanded simplicity, speed, security, and power from a cloud-based platform, geared for smart business, that weaves web-based applications into an integrated suite,” says Arsanjani. “They wanted to focus on work and not bet their future on some mix-and-match combination of desktop software that is never up to date, and needs perpetual fixing.”
Several experts in the collaboration space indicate that this is clearly a growth market. David Coleman, senior analyst at Collaborative Strategies (collaborate.com), says, “Over the last decade collaborative solutions have focused on the enterprise; today new SaaS technologies like HyperOffice have similar functionality for the SMB, an underserved market for collaborative solutions that is about to explode.”
Consultant and cloud computing expert Amy D. Wohl (www.wohl.com), says, “Two things are happening in the collaboration market: it is heating up and it is steadily moving to the web. This gives an advantage to well-crafted web-based collaboration software, like HyperOffice’s new collaboration suite. Web-based collaboration allows more people to share information and activities with fewer barriers and more tools. We expect to see much more of HyperOffice and other web-based collaboration tools in the New Year.”
HyperOffice faces competition from products like Google Apps Premier Edition, IBM LotusLive, and Zoho. HyperOffice hopes to differentiate itself by offering free training and support. Shahab Kaviani, vice president of marketing for HyperOffice, says that Zoho is a great company that offers a larger library of modules, but it needs more assistance in setting up than HyperOffice. He also says that HyperOffice is more integrated with Microsoft Office than Zoho. All work is automatically saved, updated, and synched between HyperOffice and Outlook. “A key differentiator for HyperOffice is how it works with all versions of Outlook. It also has the ability to support multiple environments, such as Microsoft Exchange.”
Alex Williams, writing at ReadWriteWeb, says that HyperOffice lacks some advanced capabilities but for some users this might be enough. “HyperOffice users may not want the capability to build data mashups and tie into services like Twitter.” Furthermore, the one-stop shop approach can be a draw. “This may be smart as the company is targeting MS Sharepoint and Lotus Notes users. A SaaS like HyperOffice may be enticing, perhaps even more so because it has similar functionality to the offerings from the big players in the market.”
Ramon Ray, a “Technology Evangelist” (www.smallbiztechnology.com), says “As businesses, in particular, smaller businesses seek to use technology as a tool to grow their business it is absolutely critical that they leverage tools that can help do more with less, save time, be more productive and be more responsive to customers. With this in mind companies that can harness collaborative tools, such as HyperOffice, are going to be far ahead of their competitors who are not using these tools.”
Hosted online, the HyperOffice suite is available for a monthly subscription fee of about $7 per month, per user. There is a 30-day free trial.
To see a video demo, visit: http://tinyurl.com/y9u9thj. The private beta is available immediately to qualified customers and prospects upon request. The product launch is expected in early 2010.
Founded in 1998, HyperOffice is a privately-held company based in Rockville, MD with about 30 employees. It claims to have more than 300,000 users of its products.