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Huddle

Page history last edited by Kathy 12 years, 1 month ago

Huddle is a secure online environment which provides users with simple and secure workspaces in which they can collaborate with their team members using a host of online collaboration tools.  They are a new company based in London, UK, backed by the financial support of Eden Ventures, to the tune of some $4 million.  Their clients include Mastercard, Reuters, and UNICEF, and they steadily continue to grow their business both in the UK and the US.

 

In-Depth Review

Huddle does well in meeting most of the affordances we have laid out as they apply to our chosen use cases, but there are some areas in which is shines, and some in which it has room for significant improvement.

 

Like many of the other tools in this space, Huddle offers a tiered pricing structure, higher tiers receiving access to more storage space, branding capabilities, and security.  Huddle offers its most comprehensive plan for free to charities.  Huddle also tries to cater to the enterprise customer by offering onsite training, dedicated helpdesk and support, service level agreements, and excluse access to free tools and new features.

 

Key Document Management Features

Huddle provides users with some standard document management features, including:

  • ability to create Office documents online (uses Zoho Writer)
  • support for all common file types, including Office files, PDFs and images
  • check in/check out with file versioning (although no major/minor versioning)
  • ability to see who is editing a document
  • ability to add approvals and notifications

 

Some of the more interesting document management features in Huddle include:

  • ability to comment on each file version upon upload
  • thumbnail view allows file/image preview
  • ability to download all files as a ZIP file
  • email files directly from the workspace
  • mass upload via ZIP file upload
  • personal file folders separate from team file folders
  • ability to copy files from one workspace to another
  • create file placeholders to indicate that a certain file will be posted soon

 

Whiteboards

Whiteboards in Huddle are a wiki-style tool that allows users to create quick discussion boards to throw around ideas, or knowledge repositories more in the style of a true wiki.  Whiteboards can be commented on, have a version history and an audit trail.  Each version of a Whiteboard can be deleted.  However, there is no way to compare versions to each other, in typical wiki fashion.  The Whiteboard also serves as an email blast tool, as notification of any posting on a Whiteboard can be sent to all, or select, members of the team.

 

Tasks/Calendar

Huddle does not offer a true calendaring application.  Rather, it allows users to create tasks with set deadlines, and assign those either to individuals or to the whole team.  Tasks can be marked as complete, and overdue tasks show up on user dashboards as such.  Users can view an entire team's tasks, or just their own.  Meetings can be scheduled, but are referred to as tasks.  There is currently no way of setting up recurring tasks, and thus it makes it difficult to set up recurring meetings as well.  There is also no way of copying a task, which could have potentially alleviated some of the pain of manually setting up a recurring task.  Word from Huddle support is that the calendaring feature will be going through some changes in the summer of 2008, perhaps adding the functionality described herein as missing.

 

Innovative Features

Facebook Integration: Huddle is the only tool in the our evaluation space which had integration with a social networking site.  Huddle has developed a Facebook application that allows you to create Huddle workspaces and collaborate with other people all within Facebook.  It syncs with your regular Huddle account, and so any changes that happen on either one of the sites is reflected on the other as well.  Users do not need to be Facebook users to collaborate with users of the Huddle Facebook application.  This allows users to collaborate entirely within Facebook, entirely within Huddle, or a combination of both. 

 

Because the Huddle mission statement focuses on the social networking aspect of collaboration, we may see this relationship grow significantly in the future.

 

Open API: Huddle is in the process of completing development on their open API, which will allow developers to integrate Huddle into existing business applications, as well as build applications on top of the base Huddle app.

 

RSS Feed/Calendar Integration: Users can subscribe to an RSS feed to have all workspace changes pushed out to them.  In addition, users can sync the Huddle task list with their Outlook or iCal calendars.  Again, Huddle focuses on integration and ease of use, letting users spend more time working on their teams and less time trying to figure out where to find things.

 

Additional Features of Interest

  • Workspaces can be made open or private with the click of a button
  • Workspaces are searchable
  • Team presence shows who has been active when
  • Each user has a profile page with picture, bio, and contact information.  The downside of this is that this information is not searchable, taking away from the knowledge discovery capabilities of the tool.
  • Workspaces can be 'Finalised', in effect closing out and archiving a project.  All old file versions are deleted, while the most recent documentation is archived and retrievable.  No new content can be placed on a Finalised workspace.
  • Workspaces can be 'Locked'.  All activity is paused for any amount of time, to be reopened at a later time.
  • Virus checking occurs upon file upload, and periodic virus scans are run across the entire system.
  • All packages have online and email support available, while enterprise packages come with onsite and dedicated support.
  • Huddle has multi-language capabilities, currently in English, French and German, with more languages to come. 

 

Resources and Additional Reading

Huddle Price Plans

Huddle: MySpace for the enterprise crowd

Next-Gen Collaboration Takes Stage At DEMO

Huddle, another online collaboration software system for businesses

 

 

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