Intranet solutions for SharePoint and Office 365 can help you make users more productive. But is an on-premises or a cloud-based solution what you need? BrightStarr is introducing a new cloud based solution, and I spoke with CEO and Cofounder of BrightStarr Will Saville to learn about it.
KF: What is the goal of Unily and what is your strategy?
Will Saville: Unily aims to deliver the 80% of the SharePoint intranet functionality that customers regularly ask for out-of-the-box. Unily does this for a fraction of the cost and is deployable in a tenth of the time. At the same time, Unily still allows for customization so clients can still get an intranet that is 100% right for them. We want to bring consumer-quality digital experiences to the enterprise because end users need to be engaged by the digital tools they use to get their work done. We believe this is the way to achieve maximum ROI out of enterprise Intranet investments.
By unifying the best of the Microsoft’s cloud functionality from Office 365, SharePoint Online and Microsoft Azure in a single solution, we are making it easier than ever for information workers to use the tools they need to get work done. At the same time, we are removing the drain on IT teams in support, hosting, and maintenance of it and providing an inclusive set of services designed to support good governance and continuous improvement.
KF: Who are your competitors and how is Unily different from other organizations with similar products?
Will Saville: There are two main competitors to the Unily solution. The first is other out-of-the-box solutions that are aimed at delivering rapidly deployable intranets. We have found, however, that Unily vastly outstrips all of these competitive solutions in the way that it is not a simple template solution, but actually a fully customized intranet. On top of this, Unily is extensible, meaning that Unily doesn’t end at its existing functionality but can actually be built upon to deliver further tailored functionality perfect for your business needs. In addition, we have yet to see any solution that is delivered with a comprehensive model for success that is inclusive with Unily deployments, drawing on BrightStarr’s eight years of experience in the digital workspace arena.
The other competitors are completely bespoke SharePoint and Office 365 solutions, and there will always be a place for such products. However, we find that although many organizations think that their needs can only be met by a completely bespoke solution, when they explore Unily in depth they realize that they get the majority of what they need out of the box and the remaining can be customized very quickly. Fully customized solutions have a higher project risk (as well as cost) than Unily because of the project length associated with them. Unily can be ready in weeks rather than months or even years for fully custom systems. The long timeline those products require means that an organization might have changed so substantially within the project timeframe that the requirements specification is no longer valid and the system doesn’t meet the new business needs by the time it’s done. This doesn’t happen with Unily.
KF: Why did BrightStarr decide to focus on a cloud-based intranet solution?
Will Saville: Unily focuses on the cloud because we believe in the growing potential of the technology and we see that cloud and mobile adoption are going to continue to grow into the future. The digital workforce of today is changing. Increasing globalization of business, the increasing power and importance of time to market, and busier lifestyles leading to time-poor workers, all mean that every second counts in today’s world. Empowering staff through both cloud and mobile technology to work as and when they need to, including on the go, means helping them be more productive on a day-to-day basis, regardless of their situation.
KF: Who is that target customer?
Will Saville: Unily is perfect for organizations with thousands of users, but we have had organizations with a user base in the hundreds reaping the benefits of the solution. Unily is especially well positioned for organizations that already have an Office 365 subscription but are looking to capitalize on this investment. We are seeing take up of Unily from both enlightened senior executives, as well as the forward thinking IT managers that are looking to adopt more agile technology solutions that will support their efforts to remain successful through effective enterprise IT.
The individuals that benefit from Unily are spread across the entire organization from end users to senior business leaders. Internal comms specialists, marketing managers, HR leaders, finance. Unily is about uniting the enterprise, thus all departments would have a vested interest in adoption and would see huge potential benefits through operating in a more connected manner.
KF: What makes Unily effective in a business environment?
Will Saville: It drives user adoption and engagement through intuitive interface and engaging design. Staff are most productive when they have easy-use tools. They don’t need to know how the technology works as long as it makes their work faster, easier, and better. And that is what Unily provides for them: better technology on tap, without worrying about the plumbing.
KF: How important is mobile access?
Will Saville: Mobile is going to be huge in the enterprise. It is already unbelievably important in our social lives, and now business is playing catch-up. There are some truly amazing figures from Forrester research that highlight that 32% of information workers find their smart phone to be essential to their job. This number is set to continue to grow as mobile technology expands in capabilities. Unily is well ahead of that curve. Work is no longer a place you go, but a thing you do. Businesses need to accommodate this change in flexible working practices to remain on the cutting edge.
Unily takes mobile access to a whole new level, both incorporating responsive design—meaning that content rearranges itself for a variety of device sizes—and also featuring a host of native apps. Responsive design just doesn’t provide the same rich experiences as actual native apps for mobiles, and we wanted to create the same amazing experiences for all devices. With Unily users can connect to their intranet via any mobile device, and they can access all the content that they can on a desktop or laptop, with an interface specifically designed for their phone.
KF: What is Unily’s relationship with Microsoft, and why is that important?
Will Saville: In a recent blog, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Partner Group, Phil Sorgen highlighted Unily as a leading cloud solution. We have directly aligned Unily with the Microsoft’s “mobile first, cloud first” vision for the future and have built it on the Office 365 platform, which Microsoft has invested in heavily. As a layer on top of the excellent Microsoft cloud, Unily is an enhancement to their already brilliant technology.
As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we hope to continue our strong relationship with Microsoft with the Unily solution. This relationship is essential in developing the very best products on the Microsoft enterprise technology stack, which really deliver for our clients.
KF: What else do potential customers need to know?
Will Saville: The pricing structure makes it easier than ever to get a cutting-edge digital collaboration solution and internal comms platform that is scalable, extensible, and very fast. In addition SaaS is the future of enterprise solutions; working with the right partner that is established in delivering successful services is the best way to ensure your technology reaches its full potential and helps staff to be as productive as possible.