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All posts tagged Yammer

Microsoft Ventures Invests In Zula…

Zula, the mobile productivity app. Zula is the combined brainchild of Jeff Pulver and Jacob Ner-David; a solution to the challenge of mobile team communication.

Zula - snapshot of landing page

Zula recently announced the launch of their Android App adding to their existing iOS App.

Can’t We Just Use Email Like Everyone Else?

Email as a team communication solution for productive work is as effective as using one of the existing IM Apps out there.

Even with filters, flags or rules (depending on which email system you are using) emails get lost in the herd. Following threads can be a challenge at the best of times and the ability to find a specific piece of information after the fact can reduce a grown man to tears.

Not using Zula - cartoon

Add to that the tendency of workers to often send attachments and not take full advantage of linking to shared documents / media in the cloud and email is just so pre-Y2K.

Throw Mobile into the Mix

Microsoft Ventures makes a strong point in their press release that Zula are meeting the challenges of mobile productivity with their App. In the past, in fact back in February 2012 I’d made some pointed suggestions about Skype here on Warptest in the hope that Microsoft was on my wavelength.

Things are still happening on that front (albeit slowly), meanwhile Microsoft announced in June 2012 the acquisition of Yammer tagged as the Enterprise Social Network.

Microsoft Yammer Infographic - not Zula

Image cropped from infographic courtesy of Microsoft News

One of the speculations for the $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer by Microsoft was as a foil to Google+. The expectation was that Google+ with Google Apps / Drive and hangouts would become the primary collaborative environment for companies using Google Apps.

Meanwhile Yammer is moving towards full integration with Office365, Sharepoint and Microsoft Dynamics but more importantly has mobile applications for Android, iOS and of course Windows Phone.

The Big Question

So why would Microsoft Ventures invest in Zula, which seems to be a clear competitor for Yammer?

Yammer - Not Zula

The Warptest POV

Putting aside the fact that Google seems asleep at the wheel with selling Google+ as the central hub for collaborative, real-time productivity, it’s important to keep in mind that: –

  1. Whilst Yammer has mobile apps for the platform is it really a mobile-centric or scalable solution? Developing a mobile App for a desktop solution is not the same as creating a mobile-centric solution and if you are going to invest in that then it pays to find the right people to invest in too.
  2. Yammer touts itself as Enterprise that’s all well and good but a solution for smaller companies, offshore and ad hoc projects make sense too. Zula is filling a niche that Yammer didn’t focus on.
  3. The backend: I’ve mentioned before that it’s my belief that Microsoft sees the value in making backend sales as an entry point into company purchasing. As Zula scales with greater numbers of users what will the backend be for its Android and iOS Apps?

IMHO well played Microsoft Ventures for not missing a product or team with huge potential and congratulations to Zula for getting that investment.

So the only question I have right now is,

When do we see the Windows Phone version of Zula? I know I would love to take it for a spin.

If you haven’t tried Zula yet and want to, the links to the two app stores are here.

Windows Phone for Business

Windows Phone Announcements Got Lost…

…amongst the hullabaloo of Steve Ballmer’s One Microsoft corporate realignment memo and the launch (and ramifications) of the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Repeat after me, “Opportunity!”

What Makes a Windows Phone A Business Phone?

After reading the live feed from the Nokia Lumia 1020 launch I ended up asking myself:

If I was the Product Manager for Windows Phone Business what would my feature list be?

This is what I came up with:

Windows Phone - Mindmap

Firstly, excuse the handwriting. Some of the list fell by the wayside for a variety of reasons. As I wrote this my “requirements” were refined by focusing on the use cases: –

  1. Security: out of the box this phone needs to ensure that it isn’t the weakest link in accessing company data.
  2. Active Directory: a’ la Windows 8 “login” should have the option of using the user’s Windows Account login and password. Once you’re in the phone is connected to the company Active Directory.
  3. Remote Desktop: for the serious road warrior the phone has to have built in VPN and Remote Desktop / Remote Control.
  4. Exchange: this can’t just be OWA. Exchange needs to be a robust app with little in the way of functional compromise. The People and Calendar Live Tiles should reflect connection to the user’s Exchange account.
  5. Real Time / Social: Skype should be the Skype Business version with video conference calling and Yammer. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter should be freely available for the user.
  6. Apps: Should the user be able to download any Apps to their business phone? This should be an option for Company CIO’s to choose as policy but more important the company should be able to manage their own in-house App Store with preferred Apps available to enhance employee productivity on the phone.
  7. SharePoint: If you have a Windows Phone (even 7) you have Office and this already allows connectivity to SharePoint.
  8. CRM: Think business, think Dynamics. So yes, Dynamics integration with the People Live Tile, Exchange and Calendar or an App that ties it all together on the phone.
  9. Print to any Company / WiFi printer: self-explanatory.

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The Warptest POV

The biggest challenge is going to be providing businesses with ROI for choosing Windows Phone but more specifically ensuring that just because the Phone is connected to the Company domain that the user can still maintain and access their personal profile without compromise. What’s best practice here? I wrangled with the idea, “It’s Windows (Phone) so just like on a PC make it easy to switch users and thus personal / corporate profile, data and Apps”. I’m still conflicted about the best way to do this; case in point:

The Windows Phone update that will provide these features will contain features that are not business exclusive too. Some users are not going to want the bloat of the business features so Microsoft pay attention here, make the update granular enough to allow existing users to select whether to add the business features or not.

I’ll say it one more time for the boffins at Redmond. This is a huge opportunity to seize a market share not fought over since the advent of Blackberry as the business phone.

Keep listening to your business users about what they need from their Smartphones and make it happen.

What features would make you choose Windows Phone over the competition for your business?