Tech Profile: Huddle
What is Huddle, and how did you and your team get started in this field?
Huddle is the enterprise content collaboration company — and leading Microsoft SharePoint alternative — that helps hundreds of thousands of organizations worldwide collaborate intelligently. Huddle’s intelligent collaboration platform is revolutionizing business content management by enabling organizations to store, discover, share and work on content with others securely in the cloud. With Huddle you can create multiple client extranets, brand assets storage, secure collaboration platforms or research knowledge bases. You will find all communication and collaboration tools in one place: secure file sharing, document management, whiteboards, discussions, tasks and approvals.
The patent-pending intelligent technology locates and recommends valuable information to users, without the need for search.
Andy and I set up Huddle because we were becoming increasingly frustrated by existing enterprise technology’s inability to help people work together. The collaboration apps in our social lives just worked, and this simply wasn’t the case when we used technology in the office.
Despite advances in technology, individuals, teams and businesses were still unable to work together efficiently. Collaborating on content, getting approval on files and organizing meetings remained a challenge, especially if this needed to be done across the firewall with customers, partners and contractors. Our frustration with SharePoint resulted in us forming our idea for an enterprise content collaboration platform – Huddle. What started as a two-person team has now grown into a global business, with offices in London, San Francisco and New York.
How should the marketing/advertising industry utilize Huddle to increase in-house productivity and create better end-results for its clients?
Huddle is a natural fit for agencies that are seeking to improve their client service and win new business. A single Huddle account can be used to create multiple, branded client extranets. Users can securely collaborate on client projects with full transparency of approval workflow, permissions and audit trails.
Geographically dispersed teams and freelancers can work together on projects, easily sharing documents without needing to manually track file versions. With Huddle, marketing teams can store all corporate assets centrally and access them from anywhere and with any device. They can easily add comments, make edits and annotations and share with others.
What trends and changes in the market led you to realize that Huddle would fill a void? Describe the void.
A decade or so ago, cloud computing emerged and ushered in totally new ways to access content anytime and anywhere. But on-premise legacy technologies like Microsoft SharePoint — the leading collaboration software — didn’t adapt or accommodate the new ways in which people and teams were working. Collaborating on projects, getting approval on content and organizing meetings remained a challenge. I’ve experienced it. Spending millions of dollars on an unsuccessful SharePoint implementation was the final straw, and we knew there had to be a better way. So, Huddle was born.
We’re seeing more and more companies allowing employees to work remotely. What tools does Huddle offer to help users collaborate easily from across the room or across the country?
Bringing together enterprise content management, social collaboration and mobile productivity, Huddle’s mobile applications unlock the true potential of anytime, anywhere working.
Using Huddle’s intelligent recommendation technology, Huddle automatically delivers and syncs the most relevant files to your iPad or iPhone. This ensures that you always have secure access to the latest version of your documents, online and offline. Huddle also allows you to discover previously unknown content from across the enterprise that may be relevant to your job, as it is aware of all of the content that exists across your extended enterprise ecosystem.
It’s also important to be cognizant of marketers’ unique workflow, which is why Huddle offers users the ability to track progress of projects, assign tasks and manage approvals. And because Huddle centralizes conversations and content, activity that happens in email isn’t lost in inboxes — it’s always right there in Huddle.
What makes Huddle different from other collaboration software or cloud computing platforms?
Huddle’s key differentiator is the intelligence inherent in the global content collaboration platform. Unlike traditional enterprise content management systems, Huddle addresses the needs of the modern workplace and opens up content silos across the global enterprise ecosystem, including colleagues, customers, partners and suppliers. The intelligent collaboration platform enables people to share, discover and work on content wherever, whenever and with whomever they need to. The intelligence in Huddle’s content collaboration software helps people and organizations discover valuable information they never knew existed.
Huddle is leading the transformation of the content management software by making it:
What software and applications does Huddle integrate with? What about users working on different operating systems?
You can access Huddle from the number of applications you may already be using, including Microsoft Office, VMWare Zimbra or QuickOffice. Huddle can be accessed on PCs and Mac computers as well as all major mobile devices.
Huddle can be easily integrated into your existing enterprise stack, including desktop applications, SharePoint and more. The Huddle API is a simple HTTP service secured via SSL. Build applications and mash-ups using the powerful Huddle developer API.
Huddle also integrates with office applications via the Huddle for Office plug-in. There is an add-in for Excel, Word and PowerPoint. This means you can save files directly into Huddle. The plug-in will just add ‘Save to Huddle’ options and an ‘Open from Huddle’ button. You can even sign in straight from Word, Excel or PowerPoint without having to open the browser. Huddle has also integrated with Xobni, an email management and search tool that creates profiles for the people you have contacted. The Huddle plug-in lets you share files, tasks and ideas with your contacts. These multiple integrations allow you stay connected with Huddle with whatever you’re doing. Huddle is also available for the Chrome Web Store, allowing you to manage projects, files and people directly from your chrome web browser.
How can administrators control which users have access to content? What measures has Huddle taken to guarantee security?
Huddle was built for enterprises and government organizations so security and reliability is top of mind. Huddle is trusted by some of the biggest businesses in the world, including 80 percent of Fortune 500 businesses and more than 80 percent of the UK central government. Huddle offers guaranteed user adoption, enterprise-class security (256-bit SSL) and guaranteed 99.9 percent uptime, which means the email system will go down before Huddle does. Security is across multiple layers:
- •Physical security: Our primary data center is ISO 27001 accredited. The servers are hosted in secure facilities, operated by Rackspace, with restricted access and 24/7 monitoring.
- •Network security: Servers are hosted behind sophisticated firewalls with a protected perimeter. We carry out penetration testing on an ongoing basis and have had formal penetration testing commissioned on a number of occasions by third parties.
- •Application security: Access to workspaces and files is restricted with full administrative control.
- •Certified: SSAE16/ISAE 3402. The controls, processes and policies that protect data in our systems have successfully completed a SSAE16/ISAE 3402 audit.
Permissions determine what a user, workspace manager or account administrator is able to do within a particular workspace or a particular folder. Teams are essentially permission groups within a Huddle workspace. Teams allow you to group your users according to what permissions they should have in the workspace (i.e., which files they are allowed to view and edit). You can set granular permissions against each workspace or folder, controlling who can view specific items. Permissions can be amended and users can be removed from workspaces should they leave the organization or be removed from a project. If you have an important file that you only want to share with specific people, you can set permissions to ensure that sensitive documents are only seen by those who you want to see it.
How do you see cloud technology and collaboration tools evolving in the next three to five years?
Over the next three to five years, intelligent features will become as important, if not more so, as social features. This is for two key reasons: the rapid growth of the amount of content being created and the evolution of the enterprise from a single isolated entity into a virtual ecosystem of customers, partners and suppliers. With the rise of big data and the number of people needing to access and collaborate on content increasing, technology needs to do some of the work for you, discovering and delivering what you need to do on the devices you’re working from.
This leads into mobility. Analyst house IDC predicts that the mobile worker population will reach 1.3 billion by 2015 – this is more than a third of the total workforce. With such a large proportion of people now working on the move, the ability to securely collaborate on content and not just access and review documents will become increasingly important. People will need to work as effectively on the move as they would if they were sitting next to their colleagues in the same office.
With government organizations worldwide rapidly adopting cloud computing services, an increasing number of enterprises will overcome their reservations about cloud security and make the leap too.
Alastair Mitchell co-founded Huddle, his third startup, in 2006 with co-founder Andy McLoughlin. Since then, the company has grown to more than 100 people in London, San Francisco and New York, raised in excess of $40 million in funding and seen sales triple year after year.
Alastair’s 11-year career has followed the trajectory of the Internet. After his first startup, an online media business, Alastair moved into online exchanges and built the first global soft commodities marketplace. When the business was bought by one of its investors, Alastair moved to Dunnhumby. Here, he led its web-based marketing intelligence product from zero to $60 million sales within four years. He joined the board in 2005 to head up a 300-person global team, running their shopper loyalty practice. When Dunhumby was purchased by Tesco, Alastair started Huddle.
Alastair graduated from Southampton University with a Master of Engineering in Naval Architecture. As a passionate supporter of other entrepreneurs and the London and San Francisco startup scene, Alastair co-founded the popular DrinkTank event and spends his free time investing in and mentoring other startups.
Tarah Benner is the associate editor of The Agency Post, where she edits content, researches new technology and writes on industry trends. She's a runner, rower and avid blogger who enjoys curling up on the couch with good pizza and a movie. Her experience includes copywriting, content marketing, digital publishing and writing for the web. You can connect with her on Twitter @TarahBenner or on LinkedIn.