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New Wi-Fi software enables on-the-go workgroups

With the help of new server-free Wi-Fi collaboration software, one auditing firm explains how its mobile workgroups exchange data more quickly without giving up security.

Nomadic workgroups may soon be trading in their memory sticks and floppy disks for software that enables peer-to-peer interconnectivity between Windows laptops, tablet PCs and pocket PCs.

Colligo Networks Inc. of Vancouver, British Columbia, has unveiled Colligo Workgroup Edition 4.0. The software can establish a virtual connection between several Wi-Fi devices without the need for a central server.

The software works similarly to an instant messaging application, wherein users can connect to each other on a securely shared network. President and CEO of Colligo, Barry Jinks, said the product is ideal for educators, auditors, emergency response teams, engineers and other professions that experience nomadic workgroup inefficiencies.

Jinks said users can share data with applications to arrange meetings and communicate electronically, via instant messaging or white-boarding, and connect an entire team through one person's access to external resources, such as the Internet and printers.

The new version's features include secure folder and printer sharing, instant Wi-Fi networking, archiving of transaction logs on chats, enhanced security including IPsec and an improved user interface.

According to Jinks, the software is user-friendly and noninvasive, as it resides in the user's Windows application tool bar. A user can activate the software by double-clicking on the icon, which displays an interface showing all users currently on the Colligo network.

The user then clicks on the team member he wishes to communicate with. Once authentication is verified, the instant wireless network initiates, and sharing is done with a drag and a click.

Steve Schwartz, a manager at San Ramon, Calif.-based public accounting and consulting firm Armanino McKenna LLP (AMLLP), said he heavily researched the collaboration market and Colligo was the only product that satisfied all of the company's needs out of the box.

Schwartz said a majority of the 140 employees at AMLLP spend as much as 95% of their time at clients' offices, which audit teams must always exchange data. That need was previously satiated by floppy disks, hubs, cables and memory sticks -- all with high degrees of inefficiencies.

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AMLLP deployed Colligo on 50 audit professionals' notebooks, who have since replaced their memory sticks with a secure and private network between their team members at clients' offices. Schwartz said the software garnered rave reviews.

"[The auditors] particularly commented on how quickly they can now transfer their binders," Schwartz added. "I believe we've managed to cut down our synchronization time to a third of the time it used to take us with the memory sticks. We've also found that we've lost less data in the field, and we no longer have to replace mislaid memory sticks."

In addition, Schwartz was impressed by the user-friendly nature of the product. He said the average "training" process of a new user consists of three minutes, and a few clicks.

Colligo Workgroup Edition 4.0 will be available at the end of this month for $99.99 per user.

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