Will 2013 be the ‘year of freedom’ for knowledge workers?

Will we ever 'break free from proprietary apps' in the workplace and use our own devices to connect to our collaboration spaces? With tools like Harmon.ie, this might just be possible.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Are you frustrated that your company refuses to implement BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) throughout the organisation? Are you weighed down by your personal and company issued devices?

Is your tablet not permitted to connect? Are your work devices limiting your productivity? Perhaps 2013 will be the time to break free from proprietary apps and be as productive as you need to be.

2013 will be the year of freedom for knowledge workers. It will be the year that we break free from proprietary apps.

Many knowledge workers want to have the flexibility to be connected to their enterprise collaboration space wherever they are.

They are either in the office using Outlook, or they are on the move with their iPhone, iPad or other device.

On devices you still want access to Google apps, Lync, IBM Connections or Lotus Sametime. No matter where you are, it would be good to stay connected to your documents.

The challenge is finding vendors that support both on premise and cloud based solutions so that even logging on from a kiosk enables you to understand what is going on back at work.

Yaacov Cohen CEO at Harmon.ie certainly seems to think that 2013 will be the "year of freedom" for knowledge workers. It will be the year that we “break free from proprietary apps”.

Harmon.ie claims to be the first platform independent social network that integrates with systems such as IBM Connections, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Lync and Yammer.

Cohen is trying to drive adoption of the social collaboration platform and bringing a social user experience that you can use on your mobile, desktop and cloud.

Credit: Harmon.ie

 Harmon.ie provides a suite of products such as its Connect for SharePoint tool and its Connect for Google Docs. These bring the Enterprise collaborative space into your personal Outlook space.

Usually the user has to leave their personal space, their inbox and go to the collaboration space to see updated documents.

Harmon.ie provides a social sidebar for Outlook, to connect to either SharePoint or integrate with Lotus Notes. There is also a cloud based solution for Outlook Web App.

On the desktop, the social sidebar within Outlook or Notes gives you access to your social network and also shows you documents that are being updated in your collaboration space.

It works in a similar way to Xobni, but with extra features provided by Yammer or Lync.

Cohen says that Harmon.ie has an app which brings SharePoint to your iOS device. Workers can leave the office with their iPads and can see documents from their collaboration space on the iPad from the cloud.

Harmon.ie already supports access to Windows 8 Surface through a web interface using HTML5. However, Cohen does not see ‘a lot of pick up on Windows 8 at the moment’.

Cohen says that Microsoft has made a huge bet on social and on the cloud which will will pay off in 2013. He predicts that we will see a trend of increased adoption of Office 365, SharePoint online and Yammer.

He also predicts that we will see more access to the collaboration space from devices such as tablets -- not only iOS but with other devices though HTML5 and Java script rather than native apps.

Vendors want to push us into the full solution sell. But why should I care about the platform? If I choose my social platform from vendor X, Why should I also need to have my instant messaging app from the same vendor?

I want to be able to pick and choose my application, platform and my devices based on their merit to me and my work, rather than the vendor they come from. Currently in the mobile world we get a lot of choice which is what users want.

That is the reason why well managed and structured implementations of BYOD are gaining momentum. It is about flexibility in the device you use to do your job.

If 2013 will be the year of freedom where you don’t want to be locked into one vendor but want to choose. Which vendor will it be? Platform independent, or hardware – and software – vendor lock in?

It is ultimately all about the ability to choose.

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