Big Bitrix24 Changes Could Challenge Microsoft Office 365

The Alexandria, Va.-based business communication platform company, Bitrix, has issued more than 90,000 company subscriptions to the intranet solution since its original launch in May 2012. According to Stephen Ankenman, regional director for North America at Bitrix, the new version of Bitrix24 will double that number quickly.

"It took us about 15 months to hit [90,000] subscriptions. We will do the same amount three to four times faster with this version," Ankenman said.

[Related: How Secure Are Customers In The Cloud? ]

Although Microsoft has yet to release how many of its enterprise partners have adopted all or part of the Microsoft Office 365 package, analysts suspect the numbers are not as high as the software company expected.

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According to a CIO report, Office 365 adoption in February 2012 was likely 1 in 7 enterprise partners, a statistic that grew to about 1 in 5 by February 2013.

Ankenman said this version is the third major improvement of the solution since its inception, but consists of five to six changes that put it head and shoulders above anything the company has released in the past.

"Our original version did not have a mobile app at all. With our new mobile CRM, we are seeing a whole second wave of customers," Ankenman said.

Damian Edwards, owner of Doncaster, England-based Clowd Technologies and Bitrix24 partner, said his company long awaited the new user interface and mobile CRM. He added the new mobile app and the ability to edit documents are the two most notable changes he is ready to present to customers.

Bitrix24 now provides users the ability to create, edit and collaborate on documents via the cloud. According to Edwards, the addition nixes the need for a third-party word processor, a major step toward a holistic enterprise intranet solution.

In addition, Bitrix24 has amped up features in its instant messenger service, allowing for videoconferencing, screen share abilities, and email connection to Outlook, Gmail and iCloud, among others.

"Other improvements, like precise integration of notifications and a configurable menu, are personal touches so people can create a workspace where they are comfortable," Ankenman said.

Edwards said a significant edge Bitrix24 has over competitors is its price point, offered to companies of 12 or fewer employees, free of charge.

From the free version, prices climb to $99 per month for unlimited users and 50-GB storage, $199 per month for unlimited users and 100-GB storage, and $8 per user per month for 10-GB storage per user.

In comparison, Office 365 offers all the makings of the Microsoft Office suite, Lync instant messenger, social intranet, email and calendars, file sharing, Skype and more starting at $12.50 per user per month, with a $150 annual payment for businesses of one to 10 employees.