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The Intranetizen team are often asked advice about intranet vendors that supply software and hardware solutions to run your intranet. Whilst we have 35 years of blue-chip intranet experience between us, in common with many intranet practitioners, we have relatively limited experience of the 200+ software systems that companies use.

To help you, to help us and to help the vendors themselves, we’re running a series of posts of over this coming week showcasing 5 intranet companies. We’ve supplied them with the same standard set of questions and will publish their answers in their own words to ensure equity! All the images have been supplied by the company themselves and are reproduced with permission.

Today, we showcase HyperOffice

In a brief paragraph, who are you?

HyperOffice is an online “home” for today’s distributed teams where they can access all their communication, collaboration, social and mobile tools through highly customizable intranet dashboards. HyperOffice is a seamless productivity environment for teams with capabilities including intranet/extranet publisher, project and document management, business email, enterprise social networking, calendars and contacts, mobile sync, do-it-yourself database apps and web forms and more.

Briefly describe your product’s history? Why did you start it, where does it come from?

HyperOffice is one of the first companies to offer web based team tools since 2003. It is one of the pioneers in business solutions delivered via the software-as-a-service model. HyperOffice was launched based on the insight that not only is web delivery of software the best suited for collaboration needs of teams scattered across locations, it also empowers growing organizations with technology traditionally available only to large enterprises, and helps them compete better.

Describe your typical customer – what kind of company, what size, what are the kinds of problems they need to solve?

The typical customer for HyperOffice is an SMB between 50-500 employees. A few typical problems are as follows:

Companies that have hitherto simply managed information and teamwork through email and network drives and are finding it increasingly inefficient. They now want to streamline collaboration and move from email to modern cloud based collaboration solutions.

Companies that want to move off expensive and clunky on premise collaboration software like Sharepoint to modern collaboration tools.

Companies that have implemented team tools in a disorganized ad-hoc manner, and have ended up with a disjoint and siloed information management profile. They are looking for a centralized solution to ensure that silos are broken and there is maximum software adoption amongst employees.

Companies that consist of a large number of internal groups with different needs. Want to set up a corporate intranet where the user experience and collaboration toolkit of each team is customized to their needs.

Companies that want to create a digital “home” for their employees where employees can be engaged, communication be enabled across hierarchies, and employees be allowed access to tools they need to perform their jobs.

Companies that need to work closely with a number of external stakeholders. They want to set up dedicated extranets for each client where they can share information and coordinate effort. They also want to customize and brand the experience of these extranets to impress their clients and reflect each specific relationship.

What do you see as your product and company’s USP?

The key cornerstones of our solution are integratedness, mobility and social capabilities. HyperOffice is one of the broadest intranet suites in the market, and each feature has been developed as a part of the larger whole – a seamless environment rather than being a Swiss knife of tools. Our suite is constantly evolving with the needs of modern teams which increasingly see mobile phones as their access device of choice, and want modern tools like social networking at work.
Which feature(s) of your product do your customers rave about most?

Our drag and drop intranet publisher is one of our most popular features because it allows people without HTML expertise to design highly customized intranet pages, and add collaboration tools according to audience needs.

Our social networking tools are also very popular. They allow everyone to collaborate and share information on the fly, follow groups and persons of interest, and keep track of all relevant activity across the company.

Finally, our “interlinking” feature is unique in the market. It allows users to link anything to anything else in the system – documents, projects, calendars, links, emails etc. This allows users to create data mash-ups to give context and reflect a particular transaction, client or project.

Which feature(s) of your product do you feel are most under-used?

Discussion forums are being used less and less, because it seems like people simply see their social walls as a better place to have conversations.

How much customisation does your product typically need / how much to you recommend your customers make?
We have designed HyperOffice as an out-of-the-box solution and a basic user can be up and running in less than 5 minutes.

Users with advanced needs typically want to create workspaces for multiple groups, each requiring a different toolkit, a customized intranet landing page, and document folders with elaborate permissions. Setting up this structure takes anything from a few hours to a couple of days. Super advanced users require database apps and web forms for elaborate workflows which take anything from a few hours to a few days to set up.

Our experience has taught us that even though some collaboration needs are universal across organizations, every company has its own set of unique needs. Therefore, we do not discourage customization, and customers can tailor their solution as much as the software allows. However, customers who require elaborate database apps and workflows are encouraged to use our professional services and expert teams.

What advice would you give a company planning to invest in a new intranet platform? / what are the most important factors to consider?

The most important factors:

Identify your needs and map them to features offered. Don’t think just in terms of immediate needs, but your requirements 2-5 years down the line.

Many software companies have a short life span. Research the vendor for their viability – how long have they been around, who are their customers, what are they saying, how frequently is the software updated and so on to ensure you are not left high and dry.

Look not for a Swiss knife of disjoint tools, but also pay attention to how the tools work together. Your end users will appreciate this, because a disjoint experience causes adoption problems.

Customizability is key. Your organization, and different groups within it have different needs, and the whole point of having an intranet is to have dedicated intranet spaces for each group which reflects these needs.

What’s your cost model? Free; one-off; per seat per month charging; something else?

HyperOffice is based on a web based subscription model. We charge a fixed fee per user per month, and offer volume discounts. Customers have a one month fully enabled free trial to test the system before making a purchase decision. Our key offering is the HyperOffice Collaboration Suite, but we also offer other plans with subsets of features depending for companies looking to start small.

Who are your main competitors?

Office 365, Google Apps, Lotus Notes

What do you need from *your* customers to deliver intranet success?

Customers need to look at their intranet software as a strategic investment. Everyone will use it every day, and it will have a long term impact on how productive and engaged teams are. Therefore, an intranet implementation needs to be carefully planned. Some things that deserve attention:

– Rollout plan
– Training and engagement plan
– Change management
– Roles and responsibilities – administration, content ownership, delegation structure, escalation routes
– Group and permission structure

What does the future have in store for your product?

We have constantly kept in touch with the latest movements in the market including BYOD (bring your own device), social intranets and social project management. Currently, we are working on a ground breaking service which extends seamless sharing beyond the organization and close partners to wider networks. Conceptually, this can be looked upon as a “public collaboration layer”. Further down the line, we will be making further investments to take the mobility experience of our solution to the next level. Our database capabilities are also constantly expanding to meet more and more sophisticated needs of our users.

What does intranet 2015 look like?

Intranet 2015 will be highly social and mobile. Although customized intranet landing pages will always have their place, users will move from email to social walls as their default landing tool.

Many users will also increasingly prefer their tablet and mobile device as the device of choice for intranet access. Vendors need to make sure that their tools deliver the best possible experience on smaller screens with dedicated apps, optimized web interfaces, and data which sync with native apps.

Who should Intranetizen readers speak with to find out more about your product?

Pankaj Taneja, Marketing Specialist :

What question should we have asked? And if we had, what would the answer have been?

The questionnaire was very exhaustive and reflects important variables in the intranet market. One question you could have asked is what we see as major trends in the intranet market.

One important market debate we increasingly encounter is – is the intranet dying, and will enterprise social networking replace it? The answer would be a resounding no. Social networking and intranets are not either-or. Social networking in businesses will not be viable as stand-alone solutions for much longer, and social concepts like walls, microblogging, social gaming, and “following” will increasingly be assimilated and permeate intranets, to make them “social” and more robust.

Another movement we see is the increasing blurring of boundaries between team tools – email, collaboration, document management, project management, social business and intranets. The market seems to be moving towards unified “team suites” where teams have all the tools they need to be productive, delivered contextually through highly customized intranet experiences.