Huddle has just announced the general release of Huddle Note, a new iOS application that enables users to create content in the cloud, share it inside or outside the firewall and collaborate with other workers on documents — all from a mobile device. Taking all Huddle’s functionality into account,  the company's management claims it provides a viable alternative to SharePoint.

Huddle and SharePoint

Before the release, we asked Huddle co-founder Andy McLouglin about Note, SharePoint, and Huddle’s future. The first thing to say is that Huddle, for the moment, does not replace SharePoint per se, but offers a way of collaborating and sharing information outside the enterprise firewall — something SharePoint has always had problems doing.

In some government departments in the UK that require easy-to-use collaborative tools, SharePoint is either being replaced by Huddle, or Huddle is being run in parallel to SharePoint. McLouglin said:

Government departments by their nature are highly collaborative. They need to collaborate internally, and collaborate with environments outside of their own. A lot of them are using SharePoint, which is not really working for many of them because it makes collaboration across the firewalls difficult.

The result is that many departments have told us that they are going to are going to get rid of SharePoint and replace it with Huddle for both internal and external use. Alternatively, they say they will maintain SharePoint to ensure a return on the substantial investment [required to deploy SharePoint] and run Huddle beside it using content connector services that enable easy content migration into Huddle."

Huddle has always been pretty clear about where it is coming from in relation to SharePoint. On its website, it is unequivocal about the future of SharePoint:

SharePoint, as you know it, is on its way to extinction. And the world will be better off for it. Huddle replaces SharePoint outright as the most powerful cloud-based collaboration platform built for enterprise and government. Huddle regenerates SharePoint if replacement is not an option yet, delivering all the features and functionalities SharePoint lacks, but your company needs."

Huddle Note

This is where Huddle Note comes into the equation. Huddle has built its reputation by providing tools that allows users to share and collaborate on documents that are stored in Huddle’s cloud, using the device of their choice.

McLouglin says Note is a response to the reality of mobile working. With it, users will not have to use feature-heavy legacy applications as Note provides the capabilities to create, edit, store, share and collaborate on content in Huddle’s cloud.

The new application is only available for iOS now, but it will be available for Android in a matter of months. It offers an intuitive interface to place content into the Huddle cloud and a mobile alternative to Microsoft Office.

Specifically, it offers all the document creation abilities of Microsoft Word as well as revision, editing, document approval, and document entry into business processes. McLouglin said:

Huddle Note helps people to get their jobs done faster. It’s a leap forward from Jurassic systems such as SharePoint, which still doesn’t provide sufficient support for a mobile workforce."

Huddle Note versus MS Office

Why would workers move away from the familiar environment of Office or the ‘lite’ version of Microsoft Office Web Apps?

When you are using a mobile device, users don’t want to have to open up a lightweight versions of Office, which often end up being not very ‘lite’. Admittedly, its easier than it was five years ago, but there is a bit of a mental block so that even those users that access to online applications like Office 365 are still emailing things around the enterprise, because writing an email is so easy.”

To challenge this, vendors have to offer something that is equally easy to use, but located in the secure and real-time collaborative environment of the cloud.

Customer are looking for easier ways to collaborate using their mobile devices, they don’t want to have to open up a word document attached to an email to see what other people are thinking They want something that is smart and provides very easy ways to remain productive while they are on the go."

Generally available today, Huddle Note is already being used by some of Huddles existing customers in both the public and private sector.

It comes with a wide range of functions that McLoughlin said give users access to the right content at the right time. It has also piqued the interest of IT departments who are looking for enterprise grade tools for collaboration that employees are happy to use.

McLoughlin points out that where enterprises do not provide these kinds of tools, users will go and find their own, like Evernote, and download them onto their mobile devices without the control or even knowledge of IT departments.

There is more on the way from Huddle in coming months, but it is all under wraps for the moment. For now though, its focus is moving from the small business sector to the medium and global enterprise market, catering for companies with 1000 to 100,000 seats in North America and Europe, not just with Note, but also with its entire product portfolio.