printing press in action
PHOTO: Bank Phrom

Generally, we make a point of not speculating on rumor and unsubstantiated claims. However, The Information this week reported Google is working on a unified communications app that is already being testing internally, which is an intriguing report if true. 

According to the article, the new app will bring together a few tools Google already provides for the digital workplace, including Gmail and its online storage service Drive, as well as the real-time messaging service Hangouts Chat, and Hangouts Meet, its video conferencing app.

The Information reports the new app was discussed at a get-together for Google Cloud’s salespeople in mid-January, and will become part of G Suite, Google’s online productivity suite once it is released.

Two words should spring to mind when you look at this: Teams and Slack. Both have considerable traction in the enterprise space, Teams because it is embedded in Microsoft’s Office 365 offering, and Slack because it has developed an easy-to-use interface that integrates with just about any work app you can think of in the organization, including G Suite.

So, should they — Microsoft and Slack — be worried about Google developing something that offers at least some of that communications functionality in the workplace? Probably not, at least initially. Over the past five years, Google has introduced multiple apps for texting and communication, with six messaging apps running at the same time just a few years ago before most of them were axed. Other apps, such as Spaces and Allo also showed potential, but then disappeared.

However, one of the big problems with G Suite over the years has been the lack of a tool that could pull all the different tools together and provide and easy way of communicating around and the enterprise. Could this new app be that missing piece?

Only time will tell, but with G Suite now accounting for about 10% of the enterprise productivity market, any addition like this, which makes it easier to use G Suite across the enterprise, will be a major plus, especially given the widespread reach of Google Cloud and its work on artificial intelligence that will sooner or later appear in G Suite.

Given that the enterprise productivity market is currently worth $15 billion annually and by some estimates will be worth about $100 billion by 2026, it’s unsurprising to see Google trying to up its play here. That said, Google has introduced and shut down more communications apps than most companies have ever even thought of so whether this new app will a) ever be made public and b) be successful, is anyone’s guess.

Nextcloud’s Productivity Market Play

Nextcloud was founded in 2010 and built its reputation by setting the standards for self-run Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Now, however, with the productivity market set to grow even further, the company has decided to throw its hat into the ring for a share of the digital workplace, already dominated by Microsoft Office 365 and Google’s G Suite.

Earlier this month, during a keynote presentation in Berlin, Nextcloud CEO Frank Karlitschek announced the availability of Nextcloud Hub. Karlitschek described Hub as the first completely integrated on-premises content collaboration platform on the market, ready for a new generation of users who expect seamless online collaboration capabilities out of the box.

Those capabilities include:

  • Files: Features an improved sidebar, accepting internal shares and folder owner transfership.
    • Workspaces: Brings context to your folders, facilitating collaboration in one place.
    • File locking: Prevents conflicts editing shared files with others.
  • Flow: Offers extensive, easy to use workflow capabilities. Automatically turn documents into PDFs, send messages to chat rooms, etc.
  • ONLYOFFICE: Makes collaborative editing of Microsoft Office documents accessible to everyone.
  • Photos: New image gallery simplifies finding, browsing and sharing your images.
  • Calendar 2.0: Calendar 2.0 books Talk meetings, brings busy view for meetings and resource booking and more.
  • Mail: Mail 1.0 recognizes itineraries, handles rich text mails and more.
  • Talk: Rewritten user interface brings message delivery notifications, circles support, message replies and flow integration.

All this will be remarkably familiar to anyone using any of the other big collaboration suites. And while it is compatible with both Microsoft Office and Open Documents formation, one of the other interesting features is NextCloud Talk. This offers instant messaging, screen sharing, videoconferencing and VOiP calling. More to the point, NextCloud claims Talk provides better security than Teams or Slack since the enterprise data never leaves the enterprise and is stored on internal servers rather than on third-part cloud offerings.

Another top feature is Groupware. This is an email, calendar and contact package, which runs and stores communications data on your own servers. You can use it with either a web interface or with native iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux, Outlook and Thunderbird integration.

Nextcloud hub has been on the cards for a long time — four years to be precise. Nextcloud is the result of a fork in 2016 from ownCloud. At the time, the company said its aim was to offer a comprehensive replacement and privacy-aware alternative for existing cloud services for enterprise use and with long term, enterprise-grade support. It features secure fully federated universal file access and communication platform. It integrates with the innovative secure Spreed.ME communication platform and will be available for download as well as for purchase with the Spreedbox cloud communicator.

The release goes beyond the original goal of a file-syncing and sharing solution, to a potential open-source competitor to Office 365 and Google Docs. More on this as it happens.

The community version of Nextcloud Hub is free. If you need support, you need to talk to Nextcloud or a web hosting company, such as IONOS, which supports Hub. Nextcloud Enterprise pricing starts at $4,500: 50 users/ year. Premium support, which includes 24/7 phone support, begins at around $6000/ 50 users/ year.

Hyland Upgrades OnBase

Here is one that slipped under the radar earlier this month, Hyland has announced the release of OnBase Foundation Enhancement Pack 2 (EP2) and Perceptive Content Foundation as part of its previously announced ambition to increase the cadence of its releases to incorporate new technology quicker and provide customers with quicker, easier access to enhancements and new functionality.

In this latest release of OnBase, Hyland has designed new responsive user interface (UI) components, the first in a series of new public REST APIs and support for key compliance requirements. These enhancements, thea statement by the company company stated, will advance Hyland's platform modernization strategy, using modern application design and the latest in deployment and security standards.

The public REST APIs provide improved interoperability by extending OnBase document management and workflow functionality to other systems. This version also introduces compatibility with key NIST 800-53 requirements that are mandatory for many federal agencies. NIST SP 800-53 defines the standards and guidelines for federal agencies to architect and manage their information security systems. It was established to provide guidance for the protection of agencies and citizen’s private data.

This complements some of the key compliance and regulatory features already available, including a new information governance solution, Governance Rules as a Service, which generates document retention policies for OnBase content.

Reflecting Hyland's continued focus on interoperability, the latest releases of both OnBase and Perceptive Content facilitate stronger integrations with Hyland's other content services offerings, including ShareBase, a cloud-based document sharing and collaboration solution.

LumApps Raises $70 million

Finally this week, SaaS startup LumApps, which develops cloud-based enterprise communication solutions, announced a €63.1 million Series C funding round. This brings the company’s total amount raised to over $99 million. Goldman Sachs, a new investor, led the round with participation from Bpifrance, through its Growth Fund Large Venture, alongside Idinvest Partners, Iris Capital, and Famille C.

LumApps, founded in 2012, is a social and collaborative intranet platform that is designed to connect, inform and engage employees, according to a statement from the company. The finance will be targeted at five areas:

  1. R&D investment with a focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  2. Product development to further enhance the customer experience.
  3. Growing the Sales and Marketing.
  4. Hiring more than 150 employees in 2020.
  5. Potential M&A.

The announcement comes on the heels of a big year for LumApps with year-over-year growth of 100% and the development of a new integration and partnership with Microsoft.