Last fall Phil Wolff at Skype Journal mused on the topic of “Why Collaboration is Strategic for Skype”. His conclusion – collaboration is a competitive edge:
Skype could advance the best collaboration practices and technology. And with Skype’s distribution (one billion accounts by 2013), could easily become the tool of choice for producing results, enjoying your job, and building economic security.
While I am not holding out any hope for the full collaboration amongst Skype, Facebook, MySpace and other social networking platforms that many would like to see, I have long seen the potential for a product that supports Skype voice, chat and video conversations, presence, persistent file transfer and document management along with desktop or screen sharing – all managed from a single client. Of course with any collaboration a degree of enhanced Contact management also helps simplify a worker’s daily activities.
My original exposure to online collaboration goes back to my Quarterdeck days when they had developed VoIP software and whiteboarding services. (The latter later became the foundation technology for Webex.) In the early 2000’s I did some work with a desktop sharing service; more recently, over my four years of covering Skype, I have seen a few collaboration services come and go. Unyte has become integrated into IBM’s LotusLive while a couple of Skype-enabled offerings have gone out of business (not for lack of support from Skype). Citrix “Go To” services (Go To Meeting, Go To Assist) have become popular collaboration services at $49.95 per month per host (in fact, last year Citrix Online acquired HiDef Conferencing to have a consistent audio component for these services).
Yet, business’s appetites for collaboration services continues to grow, probably accelerated by not only the cost of travel but also the security issues surrounding air travel today. And they are certainly looking at cost versus value-add in the feature set as one component of their decision making.
A year ago January InnerPass launched their collaboration offering that integrated Skype with basic business-class hosted document management services targeted at business and work teams. In one sense InnerPass could be considered a persistent version of Skype’s file transfer feature; recipient users do not have to be present when files are added, modified or downloaded. They can readily be accessed at any time by any of the designated participants in a Room. The service provides more value-add through the ability to manage multi-party team calls via Skype and/or the PSTN complemented by the ready availability of the team’s documents during the call.
The recently launched InnerPass 2.1 expanded on these services with:
- a new user interface that improves navigation, especially when it comes to working with document “rooms”, their associated user groups and screen sharing
- contact import integration with Skype, Outlook and 50 other services such as GMail, Hotmail, LinkedIn and MySpace.
- call scheduling and management, incorporating the ability to access a multi-party conference call via Skype or a conference bridge
But the launch of InnerPass 2.0 last fall appears to have accelerated growth of the user base; last week InnerPass passed above the 2 million downloads mark, about one year after launching their service. While initially attracting many downloads via the Skype Extras program, viral adoption as users invite participants into rooms and meetings now has taken over as the leading source of new users.
While there is a free “Personal” service, any serious user will easily pass its 2 room, 5 guests per room limit; this service basically serves as a trial offering. In fact, I purchased a $4.95 per month Professional plan some time ago and quickly ran my usage up to its limits. As result any serious user should expect to quickly get to the $14.95 per month Business plan where business teams have more flexibility for both managing and operating both their dynamic and ongoing collaboration activities.
Bottom line: InnerPass provides a low cost collaboration service for work teams who need to be persistently in contact across team members via shared documents, text chat and voice. Definitely a tool to consider when it comes to increasing team productivity while keeping sharing costs under control.
Click here to download InnerPass for either Windows or Mac.