How Cloud Collaboration Boosts Efficiency - InformationWeek

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7/15/2011
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How Cloud Collaboration Boosts Efficiency

HyperOffice focuses on simple task management and email integration. Here’s how one SMB uses the hosted collaboration suite to meet Fortune 500 expectations.

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Erich de la Fuente runs a SMB with a big footprint.

Because Miami-based EDF Communications is a public relations and strategic communications with a multilingual and multicultural focus, it has offices and freelance representatives everywhere from Washington, D.C., to Mexico City and Columbia. One of Fuente's tools for holding it all together is online collaboration with HyperOffice, which offers a suite of software as a service products.

"We share documents on a regular basis, and this is really about efficiency--it saves a lot of time," Fuente said in an interview. "That turns into money because we have more time to service our clients and also to go after new business. Time is money, especially for a small business, and people expect us to react as if we were a Fortune 500."

HyperOffice President Farzin Arsanjani, a co-founder of the company, said small businesses have just as great a need for collaboration software as large ones, but they typically lack the resources to implement it on their own. HyperOffice aims to provide an all-in-one collaboration system, provided with or without hosted email, that covers document management, tasks and calendars, and other routine business activities. Customers often start with the collaboration suite alone because they already have an email system, but including email allows them to do things like easily convert an incoming email to a task assignment, he said.

Unlike Google Apps, this cloud product doesn't provide its own online document editing, instead it assumes users will download documents or check them into its repository, but work with them in desktop software. Pricing starts at $44.99 per month for 5 users for the collaboration product, or $54.94 with email service included.

HyperOffice also offers a HyperBase online database product, which is sold with some consulting hours included to help clients create custom applications.

Arsanjani said HyperOffice also wins some customers within departments of larger companies--in the typical SaaS scenario where a manager believes he can get a better response from an outside vendor than from corporate IT. Although HyperOffice sometimes replaces existing software, such as SharePoint, in most cases the cloud service is brought in to provide capabilities the organization didn't have at all before, he said.

Fuente said that was true in his case, although he had his staff try several other Web-based software products before settling on this one. "I wanted to have team buy-in before we moved forward," he said, but as soon as his employees tried HyperOffice he got an "overwhelming response" that it was the right pick. Document collaboration is critical for his firm, which is always working to develop press releases and other communications "and we always want to make sure we have the right version," he said.

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