Feature

Huddle vaunts enterprise collaboration as productivity engine

Cloud-based enterprise collaboration company Huddle has won plaudits from customers including the Care Quality Commission, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Last month it was a Computer Weekly European User Awards for Enterprise Software winner, as supplier of the year.

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Jonathan Howell, chief technology officer (CTO) at Huddle, said: “There was recently a big fad for social media in the enterprise, looking to replace what Twitter does. The excitement for that has dropped off recently. It's now more about tools to increase productivity."

Howell explains the company's technology as “a cloud-based content collaboration platform. The application allows you to store the version history of a document. It supplies an audit trail and enables the management of permissions across different teams."

It deploys a workspace model. People are invited to join a workspace, and they share documents with it.

“The starting point is often that an organisation wants to improve the ways that it works with people outside the firewall. Email is not a good tool for that. It is not secure or controlled to be sending out large email attachments. It is not good for collaborating creatively on a document.

“Then they look to use it internally as well, often replacing SharePoint."

The company has enjoyed success in the public sector, according to Howell, because government IT is often fragmented. Central government has to engage across different departments and with external agencies. Local government works with external organisations who do not compete with each other.

Its security features have played a part in its public sector success, he adds. “Often the only way to get a document securely from one government department to another is to burn it onto a CD and walk across Whitehall. And that's not perfectly secure."

Pukul Rana, digital strategy advisor, Commonwealth Secretariat says of the software: “Huddle is integral to what we do and forms a distinct part of our online proposition. This in turn has helped us to take a step closer to our strategic vision of a better connected Commonwealth. It has increased productivity and efficiency in the organisation and helped to create a much-needed shift towards working online.”

The software deploys a recommendation engine, like Amazon or Spotify. And so it pushes the top 20 documents you are recommended to read, as determined by the collective discussion and activity in your workspace, to a device like a smartphone or a tablet. 

Howell says this is especially useful when commuting since even if you are out of signal or offline, you can still collaborate in that dead time. You can authorise, comment on or amend documents which will then sync when you are back online.

The company has filed for a patent on its recommendation engine, which is trained on enterprise collaboration activity and content, not books or music.

In comparison with traditional document management systems, says Howell, Huddle “is more about the creation and distribution of content than archiving for the future. It is where work gets done rather than where documents go to die."

He maintains that it also belongs to the same generation as other social media. 

“Facebook is a prime example of how you can interact with people in your network with great software. Any then you come to work and you find nothing like that."

The company is active in other sectors too, such as manufacturing, financial services and marketing. 

It is also a UK export, primarily to the United States. It has secured contracts with In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the CIA, to develop a FISMA-certified instance of Huddle for the US government, starting with the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.


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This was first published in July 2013

 

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