Vendor Profile: Bitrix24
The Intranetizen team are often asked advice about intranet vendors that supply software and hardware solutions to run your intranet. Whilst we have 35 years of blue-chip intranet experience between us, in common with many intranet practitioners, we have relatively limited experience of the 200+ software systems that companies use.
To help you, to help us and to help the vendors themselves, we’re running a series of posts of over this coming week showcasing 5 intranet companies. We’ve supplied them with the same standard set of questions and will publish their answers in their own words to ensure equity! All the images have been supplied by the company themselves and are reproduced with permission.
Today, we showcase Bitrix24.
In a brief paragraph, who are you?
Bitrix is a developer of a collaboration solution, Bitrix24. We are a US-Russian operation and we have been working in content management and web-based communications for over ten years. Our team is now a bit over 100 people, and we work mainly through a partner network.
Briefly describe your product’s history? Why did you start it, where does it come from?
Bitrix24 represents nearly everything that we have learned over the last 10 years. It combines our social network, cloud technology, content management, and very nearly every other aspect of the skillset that we have built up. The onsite version of the product has existed for about 4 years, but the cloud solution was released only in May of 2012. Of all the updates, innovations, and additions made, the addition of the CRM module was probably the most consequential event in the product’s history, since that lead to truly serving the needs of most small businesses.
Describe your typical customer – what kind of company, what size, what are the kinds of problems they need to solve?
We observe that small companies, including as few as 4 people, are using Bitrix24 in the cloud. With the free version supporting up to 12 users, naturally that is the largest segment. Onsite clients tend to range from 100 to a few thousand, with 100 – 300 being the largest category within that group. Bitrix24 in the cloud is easy to adopt, not only because of the intuitive interface, but because it solves distance problems, provides file sharing and versioning, and offers a well-designed CRM – which is without question the main ‘entry point’, or selling point, if you like, for Bitrix24.
What do you see as your product and company’s USP?
The flexibility of the product and the powerful integration among its components. If a company mainly uses the CRM, file sharing, and the Activity Stream; they also benefit from a search function that covers everything, mobile app, and a flexible notification system. We like to think that enhancing communications is, in many ways, reducing communications. By having a unified communications and collaboration zone, email and duplication of messages are greatly reduced, finding information is much easier, and getting updates on project status or expected sales is nearly instantaneous.
Which feature(s) of your product do your customers rave about most?
The ease of adding custom fields and other ways of making the CRM more ‘comfy’ for users. The interface itself, which less technical users find inviting, not intimidating. We have also gotten praise for the robustness of the tasks module.
Which feature(s) of your product do you feel are most under-used?
The Business Process constructor is something that is not used, but it is quite powerful and gives the document library, CRM, and tasks a new dimension.
How much customisation does your product typically need / how much to you recommend your customers make?
Bitrix24 has a lot of settings that let it mimic or reflect your company, rather than forcing you to adapt to its limitations – without question, this is a requirement for anything that calls itself ‘social’. CRM fields and names, project groups, and employees all need to be entered, but a new client in Bitrix24 can be up and running in minutes – and that happens quite often.
What advice would you give a company planning to invest in a new intranet platform? / what are the most important factors to consider?
Adoption. It’s no good if your people don’t use it, and in the small business segment that we work with, this means that formalized training is not much of an option, so first impressions are quite important. Next would be whether it will let you grow, either in number of users or as you need more functionality. Most newcomers to Bitrix24 perceive that we believe in the importance of these two points. With Bitrix24, an easy start does not imply a massive and painful migration when your company is much more mature. We have clients who have moved from the cloud to the onsite version, integrated with AD and other enterprise applications, customize the look and feel, and gone from a couple dozen to a few hundred users.
What’s your cost model? Free; one-off; per seat per month charging; something else?
We have a free version with slightly limited functionality that allows up to 12 users to work. Our paid versions allow any number of users. For the onsite version, licenses depend on the number of users.
Who are your main competitors?
We’re in a popular niche. There are a large number of companies offering social business platforms. The better-known are Jive, Podio, Yammer, and maybe Noodle. Not all of these overlap, and we also draw from the CRM segment, which not all of the aforementioned do.
What do you need from *your* customers to deliver intranet success?
What kind of ice cream do they like? This is what we need to know. We’re trying very hard to make the very best vanilla ice cream out there – one that will suit the largest number of people, even if that results in being a little unexciting to talk about. If they want Rocky Road, then then they are going down a different path and there are many options out for them.
What does the future have in store for your product?
We’re looking to equip small business clients with a solution that allows them to manage and operate their business from a single point.
What does intranet 2015 look like?
Since the most heroic of intranets is actually the one that shines the spotlight elsewhere, it is safe to say that as intranets get better and better, they will be seen less and less, morphing to present content to users as needed, when needed. Bitrix24 already looks like a Desktop App, a mobile App, a social enterprise portal, and a customized solution, depending on where you find it.
In small companies, there will hardly be a thought about an ‘intranet’, it is simply the primary facilitating platform inside the organization. There will be increased transparency both horizontally and vertically in organizations, and that will give companies a greater ability to harness their own resources.
Who should Intranetizen readers speak with to find out more about your product?
What question should we have asked? And if we had, what would the answer have been?
How are you getting small businesses to use social intranet? : We are aiming to put a product in the hands of small business that truly optimizes operations, and we believe that social interaction is a big part of that. One important part is to provide what they know they need – things like project management, CRM, and file sharing – along with that social intranet.
Yammer got famous and has helped to create some of the market, but it is geared toward medium and large organizations – ones that specifically need a social component to existing enterprise infrastructure. Bitrix24 is often the first file sharing, CRM, or fill-in-the-blank that a company implements, and the fact that it is a one-stop shop makes it a much easier decision for small businesses – you create your Bitrix24 intranet, use what you need, and ‘discover’ other uses for it at your own pace.