» Archive for May, 2010

Why We Need to Revisit the Office Suite

Thursday, May 27th, 2010 by Jonathan Spira

Slowly but surely, managers are beginning to realize that facilitating efficient collaboration amongst their legions of knowledge workers is a strategic priority.  Time for the office to evolveWhile this will certainly come through the deployment of improved knowledge sharing and collaboration tools, few managers know which tools they should consider deploying, so inertia sets in and they make few if any changes.

This is unfortunate because tools that were leading edge five or more years ago simply do not have the type of functionality to support the way we need to work today and in the coming years.

Let’s take word processing, for example.  In many respects, these tools have changed relatively little from the word processing hardware introduced by IBM in the 1960s.  That early hardware supported text entry, editing, and printing, and yet even as more features have been added over time, the way people use word processing tools has changed very little.  A Basex survey in early 2010 revealed that 25% of knowledge workers still print out their documents to compare the comments and edits they get from colleagues.

Today, companies have a choice in their core desktop productivity tools.  Not only does Microsoft offer the now-ubiquitous Office suite (the 2010 version was just released), but Google offers a cloud-based suite and OpenOffice.org offers an open-source solution.

While these three offerings will all competently compose documents, present slides, and crunch some numbers, their capabilities vary greatly when viewed in the context of how knowledge workers actually work.  To dig deeper into the differences between these offerings, we developed an entirely new version of our Knowledge Worker Impact Quotient, a tool we use to help potential users of an offering to understand the potential positive or negative impacts the piece of software might present.  We then applied this analysis to the offerings from Google, Microsoft, and OpenOffice.org, with somewhat surprising results.  There was little difference between the offerings in terms of very basic functionality but once any kind of collaborative or knowledge sharing processes were applied, significant differences became apparent.

Our findings and recommendations are available in two reports, “:What’s New in Microsoft Office 2010″: and “:Three Variations on a Theme: An In-Depth Analysis of Office Suites from Google, Microsoft, and OpenOffice.org”: – online here at http://www.basex.com/2010

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Office Suites…

Thursday, May 20th, 2010 by David Goldes

…But Were Afraid to Ask

We’re pleased to announce two reports focusing on the office suite and desktop productivity market, coinciding with Microsoft’s launch of Office 2010.

Which suite should I use now?

The reports, “Three Variations on a Theme: An In-Depth Analysis of Office Suites from Google, Microsoft, and OpenOffice.org” and “What’s New in Microsoft Office 2010,”  are intended for the manager who wants to understand the dramatic changes in the office suite market.

The two reports analyze the important new and updated features of Microsoft Office 2010, and compare the suite of applications to Google Apps Premier Edition and the OpenOffice.org Productivity Suite.

The report, What’s new in Microsoft Office 2010, is the industry’s first in-depth look at the new Microsoft Office 2010 suite, which consists of updated and redesigned applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, e-mail, mobile work, meetings, and collaborative workspaces.

Three Variations on a Theme: An In-Depth Analysis of Office Suites from Google, Microsoft, and OpenOffice.org, is a complementary report that takes an exhaustive look at these offerings and judges them based on their ability to form the foundations of a Collaborative Business Environment.

We were admittedly hesitant about recommending an upgrade from Microsoft Office 2003 to Microsoft Office 2007 due to high training costs and a lack of a consistent interface and told many companies to skip Office 2007 entirely.

Now we need to examine the move to Office 2010 in an entirely different light.

A few issues managers should consider include:
- What’s really new in Microsoft Office 2010?
- How do the tools found in office suites enhance organization-wide productivity?
- What are the differentiators between the offerings and how will they lower costs, speed time to market, and increase your productivity?
- What are the strengths and weakness of the three office suite offerings?
- Fundamentally, which office suite offering is right for your company?

These two reports are available online to Basex:TechWatch readers at the special introductory price of $299 for the set.  A free executive summary is also available.

David M. Goldes is the president of Basex.

The Poor, Neglected Office Suite

Thursday, May 13th, 2010 by Jonathan Spira

Perhaps it’s because desktop productivity applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software are so ubiquitous and have been around for so long (relatively speaking) that many people take them for granted.

When will our suite be upgraded?

People have been using computers to process words for decades but the ante has been raised significantly in the past five years, as knowledge workers have come to rely upon basic desktop productivity tools to not only provide basic functionality but to either offer or work in concert with applications that support the levels of knowledge sharing and collaboration that are de rigueur in the twenty-first century Knowledge Economy.

Microsoft has long owned what is considered the office suite market although a host of companies have been nipping at its heels, offering everything from free, open-source suites to free online suites.

The two most prominent competitors, OpenOffice.org, which offers the OpenOffice.org Productivity Suite, and Google, which offers the free Google Apps as well as the paid Google Apps Premier Edition, have captured a tiny percentage of Microsoft’s 600 million users yet the amount of mindshare these offerings enjoy goes well beyond their actual market presence.

Many organizations have sat out the last one or two upgrade cycles in both the Microsoft Office and Windows arenas and they also haven’t upgraded their PCs, which, in many cases, may be five years or older.  As a result, the clock is ticking and these organizations will need to make decisions about new office suites this year and next.

While free software may sound appealing, the reality of the situation is quite different.  Since the market for desktop productivity tools is so large, and office suites comprise the single most-used tool or set of tools used by knowledge workers, we decided to put Microsoft Office 2010 under a microscope and see what has changed and how those changes impact the knowledge worker.  In addition, we also dissected and compared Microsoft Office 2010 and its two closest competitors, namely the Google and OpenOffice.org offerings.

We put our findings in the form of two very detailed reports and they are now both available to you online.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

A Note from the Road Warrior

Thursday, May 6th, 2010 by Jonathan Spira
Nighttime in Prague

Prague at night

There’s nothing like staying in six hotels over nine nights to find out the state of technology in European hotels.  My trip looked like this: New York, Munich, Prague, Munich, Bozen (Bolzano), Munich, New York (I am on the plane flying to New York as you read this, most likely).

I stayed in brand new hotels (one that opened a mere two days prior to my arrival), and some with over a century of tradition.

Technology was in evidence everywhere:  New contactless key card systems for hotel rooms (the one-year-old Kempinski Hybernská in Prague, Czech Republic), a buzzer system to let guests into your room (the 100-year-old Parkhotel Laurin in Bolzano, Italy), and of course Internet access.

The surprising thing is that, while the speed was never blazingly fast, it all seemed to work.  In addition, several hotels had very reasonably priced or free access, namely the Kempinski Hybernská, where Wi-Fi was free but using the wired access was not, and the Parkhotel Laurin, where one day Internet cost only €8.

The only slight difficulty came about when I tried to access the Wi-Fi in the lobby of the Parkhotel Laurin.  No matter what I did, my trusty ThinkPad X300 couldn’t see the access point (although apparently everyone else’s laptop could).

No problem, thanks to the super staff.  I was invited into one of the hotel’s offices and connected via cable.

There was a significant low-tech failure, at the brand new Novotel at the Munich Airport (Flughafen München-Franz Josef Strauß).  Several of the foam mattresses were placed upside down on the bed platform (I was travelling with a colleague and my room the first time we stayed there and his room the second time had this problem).  At first I thought it was a high-tech design but ultimately, it was simply overlooked.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.