The answer to big challenges facing small businesses

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Managing document versions and ensuring their security and integrity are some of the biggest challenges facing small and medium sized businesses, particularly those that lack the resources of a large in-house IT department.

Last month I came across two software/service packages at the DemoFall technology show in Huntington Beach, California, that aim to address some of these issues without disrupting workflows.

San Francisco-based Workshare (www.workshare.com) chose the show to launch the latest versions of its Protect and Professional document compliance and privacy packages.

“The need for efficient, accurate and secure review of documents continues to grow,” claims Joe Fantuzzi, Workshare’s chief executive.

Protect 4.5 and Professional 4.5 are the first versions to include Workshare’s innovative “Hygiene” content filtering technology designed to prevent accidental release of information that violates corporate privacy, intellectual property and financial disclosure policies.

Professional and Protect act like e-mail “gatekeepers” and are able to alert users to the presence of information in any Microsoft Office document that violates disclosure policies and recommends the blocking of these documents.

Workshare Protect 4.5 includes pre-built policy settings that automatically identify and warn of risks, including leaking data that can jeopardise customer privacy such as social security and bank account numbers – all without disrupting normal workflows.

“To comply with regulation and internal policies, organisations must protect their eroding perimeters from document leaks,” says Brian Burke, research manager for security products at IDC. “Hygiene technology helps manage content risk and outbound compliance through policy enforcement. Workshare offers a comprehensive solution that does not require changing the way most people work.”

Workshare claims the latest code is significantly faster than earlier versions and is cheaper and easier to deploy. Protect 4.5 and Professional 4.5 are available in three editions designed to work with Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes GroupWise. Protect costs $50 per seat and Professional $350 per seat.

While Workshare protects companies against embarrassing or illegal disclosures, NextPage 2.0, which was also launched at DemoFall, is designed to make it easier for companies to keep tabs on documents and provide real time information about a document’s status.

NextPage 2 (www.nextpage.com) is actually a subscription service that aims to overcome the limitations of other workflow systems and eliminate user adoption problems by not requiring a centralised repository to store and manage documents, allowing users to work either on or offline, and permitting the tracking of documents that come from non-NextPage users.

“Our service was built completely from a user perspective, solving user adoption problems that many of our customers have had with other document and collaboration applications,” claims Darren Lee, NextPage’s chief executive.

NextPage’s research suggests most collaborative technologies fail because they require users to adopt new methods of working and because a few users circumvent the system, making the software useless to the entire team. In contrast NextPage 2 works alongside tools such as Microsoft Office and email that people are familiar with and use every day. Users do not need to change the way they work, yet are still able to collaborate on documents effectively. It costs $99 per user per year, or $10 a month.

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