Macs, iPads, and iPhones are an integral part in the product
strategy for Huddle, a collaboration platform startup that’s out to challenge
Microsoft SharePoint. I recently had a
chance to speak with Alastair Mitchell, CEO of Huddle, about the uptake of Apple
technologies in the enterprise and influence over Huddle’s strategy. I’ve also
been spending some time testing out Huddle for Mac using a review environment
the company has provided me on one of their servers.

“The use of Apple technology in the enterprise is something
we see growing rapidly,” says Mitchell. He believes this growth is driven by three

  1. A growing acceptance of the technologies that are enterprise-ready.
  2. The biggest driver is Apple technologies
    in the mobile sphere — specifically, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) smartphones and tablets. “Apple is introducing people to new technologies, and they
    are bringing them into the enterprise,” adds Mitchell. “People are saying while
    I have that, why don’t I just change my laptop to the Mac?”
  3. Apple crusaders within the enterprise.
    Typically, this was limited to the creative team and perhaps the marketing team,”
    says Mitchell. “But now, increasingly it’s IT leaders as the cloud
    becomes the defacto way of doing work. You are finding there are CEOs, CIOs, and
    CTOs who are big Mac fans. I call them the next generation of leaders, and they
    are saying ‘I’m going to use my Mac at work and deal with it, IT. I am also
    going to use my iPad, deal with it, IT.’”

According to Mitchell, “Their teams are then saying I want a Mac as well, and it
feeds down from there. This was limited to small
businesses. But I go into meetings with senior leaders in organizations, and
they’ll just bring an iPad Mini to the meeting, or they’ll be sitting there on a
Mac — and then you’ll look around and see their management team is using these
different sorts of technologies.”

“I think it’s a combination of those three things,” Mitchell
continues, “as compared to five years ago when we started. Organizations used to have Microsoft for the whole business and Macs for the creative team.”

Huddle for Mac

“As a result, we started developing for Macintosh and iOS,
alongside the Microsoft operating system,” states Mitchell. Huddle for Mac and
Huddle for Windows work the same way. “We treat them with equal importance. In
some respects, we treat the Apple operating system higher because we develop
for mobile first.”

Huddle for Mac is a fully integrated cloud-to-desktop tool.
“The cloud is basically out there. It’s an ethereal concept,” states Mitchell. As such, Huddle for Mac integrates your Mac with the cloud. You are
mapping to the cloud, not a shared drive on the corporate network.

Users can download Huddle for Mac from the Huddle web site. After installation, the app will appear on the Mac menu bar. I’ve been testing it with Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac and
find the synchronization to be quick and responsive. Figure A shows an example
of Huddle for Mac.

Figure A



Huddle for Mac.

When you open a file in Huddle for Mac, you have the option to open
it in Edit and Lock or Open Read Only mode. Taking an app-based approach to accessing
documents in Huddle is in contrast to the Share sub-menu in Office for Mac
applications, enabling you to save directly to SharePoint. Having been a site
administrator for collaboration platforms, I can’t say which method is easiest. I’ve often seen desktop application-to-cloud sharing glossed over and
never hit its potential in workgroups. Because Huddle for Mac and Huddle for
Windows work the same way, an enterprise could find an advantage here because training and support doesn’t have to be platform-specific.

It’s been my experience that saving documents to
collaboration platforms from an application is often overlooked at the end-user level. Coincidentally, users will probably need a quick introduction to Huddle for
Mac to make the best use of this application.

Future of Huddle for Mac

Huddle for Mac is still in its initial release. I’m looking to future releases
for the app to take off. Mitchell says Huddle is making their desktop
installer the repository for some of their most sophisticated software to meet
the trend of web sites becoming more like a cross between web and mobile apps, with full computing functionality that even works offline.

Mitchell points to new features coming to Huddle for
Mac, including a Recent Files sub-menu that logs you into Huddle, opens up the
selected file, and downloads it to your Mac desktop. There’s also an upcoming Recommended Files feature that will figure out what other files in Huddle might be important to you based
on your usage history. Huddle has a patent pending on this technology. Lastly, Huddle is planning offline content support so that Huddle files will be available offline across Mac and iOS devices.

Final thoughts

As Apple products gain a foothold in more organizations, I
expect that we’ll see more cloud and enterprise software developers elevating Apple
product support on their list of priorities.

Is support for Apple technologies playing a part in your
enterprise strategy in 2014? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.