Microsoft Office is getting challengers all over the place. This week, Bitrix24 added its name to that roster with an update to its enterprise social network/collaboration suite, that, among other new features, allows non-Office users to work with Office documents online via the Google Docs editor. 

Other enhancements in the newest Bitrix24 release include the use of instant messenger for video and group chats, access to video conferencing and screen sharing, and email connectors to Microsoft Exchange, Outlook, Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, iCloud and other email services for direct email access from Bitrix 24.


The updated Bitrix24's Activity Stream, with announcements

Activity Stream, Mobile CRM

There’s also an enhancement of the Activity Stream to include real-time updates, smart forwarding, notification options and announcements that can be broadcast across an entire company.

A new engagement analytics module called Company Pulse provides real-time indicators of a company’s activity on the social network -- who is using the network, which tools are being most or least used, and other benchmarks of adoption. And a new mobile CRM app enables employees to create or edit CRM entries or invoices from a mobile device, and gives access to multiple Bitrix24 accounts.

CEO Dmitry Valyanov described this not-yet-over 2013 as “a year of significant growth for us,” with 90,000 companies signed up, representing more than half a million users for the cloud and on-premises versions, plus a staff increase of 40 percent and the opening of three new sales/support offices.

Goal: Half Million Users on Bitrix24

Valyanov is targeting a goal of a million users by year’s end, and cites Bitrix24’s inclusion among GooglePlay’s top 5 mobile intranet apps, in the company of such heavyweights as Jive Software, IBM Connections and VMWare SocialCast.

The social/collaboration suite, launched in May of last year, is targeted at the small-and-medium businesses market, and is offered for free if there are no more than a dozen users.

The company appears to be making Bitrix24 into the Swiss army knife of social intranets for small businesses. In addition to social communication, collaboration, workflow, knowledge management, file sharing and CRM capabilities, the suite added in March a native project management toolset. At that point, it reported 50,000 users. In May, it added Google Docs integration, but only with document preview, not with the current release's editing or creation functions.

By continually adding new features without respect to product boundaries, and keeping the price low (above a dozen users, pricing starts at US$ 99/month for unlimited users), Bitrix is trying to leapfrog the competition from giants like Jive or Microsoft’s Yammer/SharePoint.