Showing posts with label software as service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label software as service. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2015 Internet Trends Report (Summary)



From Mary Meeker of KCPB


Internet usage growth is slowing

  The growth is slowing with about 40% of the world with full internet access at home.  Nearly 3/4 of us have access from mobile phones, but only about 3 billion of that 5.2 billion number have smartphones. That's just a bit more than the 2.8 billion users who have full internet access.


and the US Dollar leads the web

11 of the 15 biggest internet companies are American.  The other 4 are from China.

but Asia is growing the fastest

Internet Growth
China Users = +7%, USA = +2%, India = +33%, Japan = Flat, Brazil = +4%

Smartphones
China Subs = +21%, USA = +9%, India = +55%, Japan = +5%, Brazil = +28

China is close to surpassing the US in percentage of the global GDP.

and Messaging Platforms are the Killer App.



Government, Healthcare, And Education Are Huge Opportunities

"The Internet has already transformed the consumer and business space, where entrepreneurs can build products that meet their needs or solve pain points. Larger, more regulated spaces that are less accessible or comprehensible to the average entrepreneur have seen less Internet-driven innovation, and are essentially sitting ducks for startups." - Tech Crunch Summary

for Enterprise Entrepreneurs


        "‘Enterprise’ Internet Entrepreneurs Often Pursue Prior Company Pain Points" - Slide 30

The most successful businesses have already moved to the cloud

stripe.com Online Payments
domo.com Business Intelligence
docusign.com Digital Signatures
intercom.com Customer Service
gainsight.com Sales Management
directly.com Support Center
zenefits.com Human Resources
anaplan.com Enterprise Planning
greenhouse.com Recruiting
checkr.com Background Checks
guidespark.com Employee Training
envoy.com Enterprise Check-in
apptrain.com Me.  That's my company.  You get me working for you :)

and of course have significant financial resources

"KPCB is a venture capital firm that owns significant equity positions in certain of the companies referenced in this presentation, including those at www.kpcb.com/companies - Slide 180"

Meanwhile, users are creating and curating content

Web users are becoming the trusted news reporters and product reviewers.  Young people today are creating their internet.  People debate and work through serious issues, for example:

Just outside the internet, we're learning that drones are useful for better things than killing people


Agriculture
This quarry hole is mine!
Inspections
Disaster Relief

A word of caution,  you are responsible for securing your data 

Lost devices, insider breaches, spyware all contribute to security breaches.

Still the workplace moves forward online, and becomes global



Service jobs are replacing goods producing jobs, with cognitive jobs growing the fastest.  More people than ever work remotely with flexible hours.  Consumers expect instant response, so businesses are open 24 hours.  Which reminds me, I've got work to do.  It's 9 AM somewhere!







Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cloud Based Content Management Comparision

Cloud based Content Management is the service that holds other cloud applications together, similar to the way a traditional office network held together desktop services.  Email, Project Management and Web Site builders all need to be able to integrate with a Content Management service.  Few enterprises can afford to ignore the benefits of cloud based document management, or web based content management.  Cloud storage offers lower costs, better security, better integration, and improved productivity.

Content Management in the Cloud has begun to share functionality with Cloud Based Website Builders. None of the tools in the Website Builder Comparision  article fared well.  The main reason is that focus is moving to the Content Management systems.

 Google DriveSkyDriveZoho Docs, and HyperOffice are all similarly priced, and offer generous free storage to get started.  Basic file editing is available from browsers and phones, but after that differences are significant.



Microsoft SkyDrive

is essentially SharePoint re-branded.  When you log into SkyDrive it runs from sharepoint.com.  Microsoft has progressed enormously over the past couple years in the world of cloud solutions and SkyDrive reflects that progress.

Benefits
Microsoft's strengths are still rooted in the desktop world, so every effort is made to integrate with those applications.  For a workforce comfortable with these tools,  SkyDrive is the clear choice for migrating to cloud based services.   SkyDrive can edit documents in just about every popular Microsoft format, and SkyDrive's integration with Microsoft Office sets it apart from competitors.

Criticisms

"SkyDrive is a work in progress" concludes David Sobatta in his article comparing document management performance.  The lack of important features like uploading multiple files, collaboration among multiple editors,  autosave and versioning of documents is frustrating for anyone who has used the better tools available. SkyDrive needs work.

Google Drive

 is the established leader in Web based content management.   Formerly called Google Docs, it's been around since 2007, and has continuously improved over that time.

Benefits
Most every capability needed to create edit and manage documents is available in the web based editor. The user interface consistently outperforms the competition in document management comparisons.  As Derrick Wlodarz explains,  "Google Apps brings an interesting breath of fresh air to the cloud platform market, while Microsoft feels like it’s forcing the tie-ins back to its desktop roots in order to make a cloud presence."  With not only a superior interface, but more functionality than the competition, Google Drive is a great choice for any business.


Criticisms
Editing in Google Drive is fantastic, but you're forced to used their own formats. Editing a Microsoft document requires first converting into Google Docs format, and with complex documents, some formatting can be lost.  Many business users still need desktop capabilities to edit more complex Word documents and spreadsheets.


HyperOffice 

Benefits
Hyper Office Document Management incldues their Document Collaboration Solution. The file permissions, access control and version control are as good or better than any of the other three solutions. While Google Drive and Zoho both offer revision history,  HyperOffice provides complete version control with comments, audit trails, pruning, and overwrite protection.  There forms solution called HyperBase works as good as any other form provider as well.


Criticisms
HyperOffice does not offer complete online editing tools.  Their approach is to leave editing to desktop applications.   HyperOffice also has a much smaller user base than other tools mentioned here, so Online support is limited.

Zoho Docs

Benefits
Zoho has caught up with Google as fare as usability and features, and has even started to surpass them with support for some VBA scripts, and better sharing capabilities across different email providers.  Zoho's office tools work great in collaboration with their other products.  So if you love Zoho Mail, Projects, and Sites, then you'll love Zoho Docs.

Criticisms
Some users have complained that  compared to Google Docs, Zoho Docs can be slow.  I didn't experience  this, but it's worth mentioning.  It's also worth noting the comment below the linked TechJotter article which says "In 2013, Zoho is so much better than Google Docs, it isn’t even funny."  Zoho is building a passionate fanbase, and if you check out their products you'll see why.



Conclusions
Google DriveZoho Docs, HyperOffice and  SkyDrive have all made great strides in Document Management , or more broadly Content Management.  Cloud based content management is the key to success for tomorrow's business.  Google's lead in this field has been just about erased by the products at Zoho.  And the mighty Microsoft is starting to move in the right direction.  HyperOffice is promising, but has some work to do to compete with the 3 leaders in Cloud based Content Management.




Monday, March 18, 2013

Cloud Based Website Builder Comparison


Website builders have been primarily cloud based for some time now.  These tools are great for getting a basic site up and running quickly, but aren't designed for creating robust dynamic sites with lots of interactive accouterments . Google SitesMicrosoft SharepointZoho Sites, and HyperOffice Site Builder are all given away free with other products.  They each have their individual shortcomings. But none of them are ideal for supporting a feature rich website.   Small businesses that are successful will likely grow out of these tools quickly , and move to more professional Website solutions.


Microsoft Sharepoint

started of as a site builder called FrontPage. It has evolved into a web based content management system that specializes in building Wiki like intranets, and has Project Management capabilities. It is also the external website builder for Office365. This comparison  focuses on just the Website Builder.

Benefits
Because it also handles Project Management, Content Management and Wiki creation, the Site builder naturally integrates well with these tools. It's easy enough to get up a few web pages up quickly. It also has fine grained access control. If you create usernames for your members, it's good at building a Member Login section of your site.

Criticisms
The user interface is dated. It can be pretty confusing trying to find out where to go to do simple things like changing font sizes. The available functionality seems haphazardly organized, and it doesn't easily lead to elegant looking websites. Sharepoint doesn't have many site templates. It also lacks the basic ability to preview a page you're working on without saving it to the live site first. Sharepoint has so much going on that it can be overwhelming when you're trying to handle simple tasks. But if your  in a corporation using Sharepoint, and you learn your way around it, you'll likely be able to help people out.  As they say in the IT industry when something is unnecessarily difficult to use, "It's job security".

Google Sites

was created from a product called JotSpot that Google purchased in 2008 .  It comes free with any Google Apps product, including Gmail.

Benefits
Google's user interface is plain simple.  You can get a site up in no time.  Sites also offers a wide selection of both templates and themes.  You can always go to html edit mode for fine tuned customization.  Plus, Google offers widgets to integrate with it's other services like Blogger, Checkout and Maps.  Sites is the only of four mentioned here that allows rolling back to previous versions of built pages, and store a version history.

Criticisms
While there's an html edit mode, you can't edit the html you've inherited from either a theme or a template. Also javascript support is limited.  You can't reference javascript libraries from other sites.   Sites hasn't changed much from its inception.  However Google now allows creating hosted websites from Google Drive, so apparently more advanced site developing is happening over there.  Much like Microsoft's Sharepoint, the lines between Site creation and Content Management are becoming blurred.


HyperOffice Site Publisher

Benefits
Has a great selection of tools to choose from in design mode, and has the best pure  HTML editor of the four.  

Criticisms
Some of the tools are quirky.  I grabbed a 'horizontal toolbar' and a 'vertical toolbar' from 'Menus' and put them on a page, and they both positioned themselves horizontally. Then I couldn't add items to them.  A search for online documentation or a tutorial for page creation came up empty.  There's not a huge user community publishing tips or solutions. Site Publisher is an unfinished product.  This means that features could be added quickly so it's worth keeping an eye on the tool.

Zoho Sites

Benefits
The Zoho Sites user interface is nice, and loads quickly. Like the others, you can get a site up in no time.   It has plenty of  useful templates.  And the templates give your site pages tremendous consistency.  Your site will have a great look and feel.  You can also upload custom pages form another source.

Criticisms
There's no HTML edit mode.  And you can't add javascript to you site.  So the tool is limited.  Previous versions of pages aren't saved, and there's no autosave capability of sites you're working on and no javascript support.  Zoho is actively developing their products, and emailed to say that version support will be added in a future release. If they integrate more with their Content Management system, look for more features as well.

Conclusions
 Google Sites and Zoho Sites  were a bit easier to use and fared better than Microsoft Sharepoint and HyperOffice Site Builder.  But none of the tools are very impressive.  Expect them to be deprecated as additional features are added to Content Management sites, such as html and javascript editing, and DNS support. Google Drive has already added a feature called "Site Publishing",  and Amazon's S3 also can be configured to host a website. Watch for the other Content Management and storage solutions to evolve in the direction of site hosting as "Site Builders"  like the ones covered here become obsolete.




Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cloud Based Email Comparison


Email was the first core business service that migrated to the cloud. Mainly because the benefits of web based email are immediately obvious to users.  No more clunky desktop email clients that end up corrupting archive files.  No more running out of storage space. And perhaps the kicker that necessitated the switch to the cloud, the ability to immediately access email from anywhere with any device.  GmailOffice365Zoho, and HyperOffice all have email solutions for businesses. After the quick comparison chart below,are some of the benefits and common criticisms unique to each solution. Ultimately your choice of email provider will be based on the ability to integrate with other cloud services including Contacts, Calendar,  Document Management, and Collaboration.


Gmail 

is the undisputed leader in cloud based email service.  It was created in 2004 as an internal email client for Google employees.  It now has over 425 Million users, and is the email provider for over 5 million corporations.

Benefits
With it's widespread adoption, nearly everyone knows how to use Gmail.  And it's design revolutionized web based emails.  It has excellent integration with other Google services like Search, Drive, Calendar, Tasks and Voice.  Gmail is fast, flexible and clever.  Features are constantly being tested in Google Labs helping Gmail retain it's technology lead over the other email platforms.

Criticism
Despite being the crowd favorite, Gmail is not for everyone.  By default replies to emails are grouped as conversations. Although this feature can be disabled, it is off putting to some users.  Also Gmail embraces the concept of  tags over categories.  Again, this throws off some users who have gotten comfortable with older email clients.  Using filters can help new users get a handle on how tags work. Perhaps the criticism most often bought up by competitors is that Google parses emails for keywords, then uses these to show targeted ads. however this is only for free email accounts.  This is disabled by default with a paid account.

Outlook365

is enterprise-grade email from Microsoft.  Microsoft is the undisputed leader in client server email.  Exchange server is used by the vast majority of fortune 500 companies as their messaging system.

Benefits
Nearly everyone in the corporate world has used Outlook.  It is the industry standard, and users like it.  The web based version is a familiar interface and easy to adapt to from the traditional client.  Microsoft bundles Outlook365 with their new cloud offering, Office365. It integrates with familiar tools such as Calendar and MS Word. So switching to Office365 from the desktop version is not a huge learning curve.

Criticism
Microsoft's move towards cloud applications , or software as service is exciting, but a bit late in the game. The Outlook web client works well, but mainly in Internet Explorer.  Some key features such as document integration don't work nearly as well in other browsers. And some features common to other web based email clients are missing.  Searching for text within attachments yields unpredictable results. document types such as pdfs can not be added to document management with a single click. And Outlook365 doesn't recognize iCalendar (.ics) files.   Where features lack, users are directed to use the Outlook desktop client, which defeats the purpose of moving to the cloud.  However Microsoft is notorious for catching up on the technology curve as in the days of Explorer vs. Netscape. It's just a matter of time before Microsoft adds features that web users want.

Zoho Mail

is part of Zoho Office which debuted in 2005 and is a great contender in cloud based office tools.  There are already over 7 million users of Zoho Office.

Benefits
Zoho is a company completely dedicated to working online.  Although a newcomer,  Zoho has the most comprehensive collection of cloud applications. The mail user interface matches every feature available from competitors, then adds a few, such as integration with social media. It's interface is packed with more features than Gmail, yet loads faster.  iCalendar files open up automatically. Look out Google.

Criticism
The new car smell is great, but the Zoho applications are still being fine tuned.  A search for text within an attached pdf file didn't turn up any results in Zoho Mail.  Currently only Gmail can handle that task.   However new features are being added quicker than any competitor.  If you want to be near the cutting edge without getting cut, Zoho mail is your product.


HyperOffice

, formerly WebOS, has been building an online collaboration suite since 2002.  HyperOffice has over 300,000 users. Once a company before it's time, perhaps their time has finally come.

Benefits
HyperOffice Email stacks up well with the rest of the crowd.  It's products were built with small businesses in mind.  The company takes pride in customer service, and is quick to offer phone support to its users. It has an impressive suite of products that integrate well with it's email.

Criticism
The HyperOffice user interface takes a bit of time to load. And it's not that intuitive.  The email search function does not allow for searching content of an email , never mind content of attachments. The site fails to detect when it's being viewed from a mobile device, making an already clunky interface unusable from a smartphone.  While Microsoft can afford to get by without a few features, a small company like HyperOffice cannot.  They have some work to do in order to compete with the other cloud email providers.


Conclusions
Gmail, Office365, Zoho, and HyperOffice are all acceptable email solutions.  Choosing one will depend mainly on user preference.  Before making that decision, consider features in accompanying products in the providers overall office suite, and how well those products integrate with email and with each other.  The good thing is that all four companies offer free trials, so definitely try before you buy.

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