Online Productivity Suites

May 6, 2008

I have been doing some experimenting with an online “productivity” application at www.zoho.com. Along with competitors like Google Docs I think that these will be the the next step in the Software as a Service (SaaS) or “Cloud Computing” market.

Personally – I really cannot wait for these tools to “shake out” a little bit. I know that is a bit cynical, but in this new field, there will be failures, acquisitions and other issues to deal with.

The point for SMB’s is that suites such as Microsoft Office are bloody expensive to purchase, Microsoft Word alone in Canada is about $300.00, for one single licence. There are volume discounts and other incentives, but at the end of the day. It is a lot of money.

I see the possibilities;

1) Internal work is completed using cheap online tools – relegating the pricey office software for one or two individuals that receive emails with documents in those formats

2) More virtual companies. No office, no software – all in the cloud.

Still, there are issues though. documents are not used in a vacuum, sharing with a few people is one thing, but collaboration with dozens or more is someting else. Also, these online formats don’t use any document standards. If they go out of business or are acquired, where is your data. A WordPerfect document that is 15 years old can still be accessed, how about these online ones?

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2 Responses to “Online Productivity Suites”

  1. elliotross Says:

    Thank you Kyle,

    And backup of this type of “unstructured” data is even harder. I use SaaS tools for several uses. But structured, database driven data is easier to retain. If the vendor goes out of business, I have the data in its tables and rows. It may be an effort to get it rebuilt with an interface, but I still have it.

    Another issue is the legal one: https://elliotross.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/export-control-laws-critical-issues-for-canadian-technology-companies/


  2. Elliot,

    You make an interesting point here about cloud computing. The technology holds tremendous potential, but some inherent risks as well. By keeping your data in the cloud, you wouldn’t have to worry so much about backups in the event of a crash like the one you had recently.

    On the other hand, web startups have a tendency to disappear, and if your entire business relies on their SaaS, where does that leave you?

    I think SaaS is going to become an increasingly important part of the business world in the near future, but some things will have to change in order to make that happen. Like you said, standards compliance is a big part of that. As is the ability to back up the data you put into their service. I think a lot of people still have concerns about the security of these sites too (and rightly so). Once these things are addressed, we could see some pretty revolutionary things.

    Keep up the great work here, you’ve got some really interesting posts.

    Kyle Claypool / OnYourBusiness


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