Every Friday I’m going to be reviewing a vendor in the emergent collaboration space and will provide an overview on that vendor which includes everything from leadership and vision to technology and market focus. If you are vendor that would like to participate, please contact me (email is in the sidebar as is twitter link). The goal of these posts is not to bash or praise vendors but to simply offer an objective view on what various vendors offer so that YOU can decide if they are a good fit for your business. Every post will cover the same elements for different vendors. If you have ideas or recommendations for other items to be covered in these posts then please let me know and I will consider them.
This week I’m taking a look at Harmon.ie. They are based in various cities in the United States but originated in Lod in Israel and currently has around 80 employees. I spoke with Mark Fidelman, the general manager and VP of sales for the Americas.
Harmon.ie is a bit unique in that it is a social email platform which is like both a dropbox and hootsuite for social business platforms yet very email-centric. Unlike other vendors that push users away from email, Harmon.ie actually leverages email as the collaboration platform and enables email to become collaborative and social in a contextual way. Harmon.ie understands who you are emailing and provides context around it.
Today Harmon.ie integrates with platforms such as Lotus Notes, Sharepoint, Outlook, and Lync. This is by-directional integration so it enables you to drag and drop documents into and from sharepoint and you see those documents appear in the right hand panel of your email client (Outlook). Think of it as a way to simply sharepoint to just the document folders. On the social side you can see the activity of people you follow on sharepoint in a Sharepoint activity stream but again this all happens right from the email client. At this point you have to load the email client for Harmon.ie to work meaning it is not a stand alone product. Today the focus is more on the document collaboration side of things but this will expand and things such as an SDK (software developer kit) will become available in Q1.
Harmon.ie doesn’t get a lot of support requests because it’s easy to use and isn’t a standalone product. Support does exist but like the Maytag washman, they are rarely called. Custom support plans are available for customers when appropriate.
Pricing for Harmon.ie is actually pretty straight forward. You can see the full price breakdown here. For maintenance you should add another 17-20% on top of the cost. Their model is per user for the year and ranges from $26/user/year up to $50/user/year.
Maintenance & Upgrades
Typically releases for a new update occur every 90-180 days. All product updates and bug fixes as well as any additional applications are all included with the maintenance. Around 50% of the upgrades come from customer feedback and ideas (which seems to be a common number among vendors), the remainder come from the vision of how people will use their solution in the future.
Overall direction/strategic vision for the company/leadership team
I’ve known Mark Fidelman for a few years now and really have to admire the vision and the ideas he has for the emergent collaboration space. I’ve also met Yaacov, the CEO and David, the VP of marketing and product strategy. All three of these leaders have a very solid background in technology and business strategy and more importantly they are all passionate about collaboration.
Harmon.ie is focusing on mobile and social activity aggregation, you can think of it as the Switzerland of social business, meaning the hub that people feed their information into (and they don’t take sides). People will then be able to look at and use that data in context without having to piece the data together themselves. Everything will become available in one place and will derive intelligence that can provide executivess with data around how people are collaborating, what is successful and what isn’t, and whether projects are going well or not going well. It’s a bit like having a Skeleton Key for the industry which can unlock any vendor.
The added value is that Harmon.ie is doing all of this within email where people are still spending around four hours of their working day. Harmon.ie does not believe that email is going away. The future of email is going to become a central communications and collaboration hub and they believe that there is no point pushing people away from email (which is what many vendors are trying to do), it’s foolish and insurmountable. Not everyone is going to use a collaboration platform, email is the one thing we all have in common. Furthermore Harmon.ie believes that companies need to lower their barriers of collaboration and communication and let transparency into their organizations. Corporations need to fundamentally change their command and control management style and move towards being more open and transparent, that is where the future of business is heading and if they make the change they will see tremendous business value, if they don’t, then they will eventually die off.
Key differentiating factors from competition
- All done in context within email, don’t have to switch in and out of applications, all in one spot in context.
- Provide Sharepoint activity streams, document activity streams, and following people and information within Sharepoint
- Drag and drop documents right into email, sort of like a Dropbox for Sharepoint
- Keeps everyone on the same page so that employees can send out links instead of documents, this makes sure that everyone is looking at and working off of the single source of truth.
For now Harmon.ie is trying to limit the customization but it is farily easy to add and maniupulate functionality. The challenge with doing this however is that if things are not a part of theirdevelopment path then they may break with future upgrades. Customization here is also not that great of a factor since it blends in and becomes a part of your email client instead of existing as a standalone platform.
Time to go live
The second you add your sharepoint credentials and download the software you’re done, so it literally just takes a few minutes. If it is mass deployed customers can customize all sorts of settings such as turning social features off and on, but these are all literally check boxes that you can click on to activate and turn off.
Harmon.ie was built for Outlook and it actually feels as if Microsoft built it themselves. In less than 6 months it will all be running on HTML 5. It runs on the existing Sharepoint security settings and just sits on top of the existing email client (Outlook).
Harmon.ie does not have a specific vertical or industry focus but the ideal customer is someone that has a lot of documents that are being shared such as engineering, construction, technology, telecommunications, and/or manufacturing companies. Ideally Harmon.ie is looking at deployments of 1,000 users and above users and above even something including 400,000 seats.
Capabilities (customer, partner, employee collaboration)
Harmon.ie is specifically deployed for the employee side of things around documents and social activity and again, it is build around the Outlook email client and as of now does not exist as a standalone application.
Harmon.ie is actually the only vendor that I have talked to thus far that is actually leveraging email as the actual collaboration platform, something which I have talked about in the past. The reality today is that employees still do spend a lot of time in front of their email clients and that email still remains one of the single best identifying factors of individuals since we all have unique email addresses. The concept of acting as an aggregator for other platforms and then embedding that activity within an email platform is actually quite interesting, especially when you start to think about this from an analytics perspective. If Harmon.ie will be a social business aggregator for other vendors then that means Harmon.ie will have all sorts of interesting stats and data on usage and activity which can then be used for strategic insight.
As of now Harmon.ie really only works within Outlook so it’s not a standalone application. I think one of the challenges with acting as an aggregator for other vendors and then embedding that stream within email is that it might make things even more challenging and perhaps slow productivity. Not only will the levels of email still be relatively constant but now employees are also adding tons of other data and activities in there as well. Employees today already stare at their inboxes all day and respond to messages as soon as they come in, do we really want to encourage that “staring at your inbox” mentality? Now having said that I think it would be quite interesting if Harmon.ie not only acted as an aggregator or hub for other vendors but also allowed you take actions from within the email client itself, such as starting groups or editing a document. Still, it’s going to be a challenge to manage all of this within an email client. Harmon.ie might actually become a new type of email client for organizations or perhaps run things behind the scenes and focus on data and analytics on the back end.
Screenshots (product demo can be found here)