Going virtual with Quantum Lynx Office

With the price of real estate, the allure of creating a virtual corporate office is a strong one. Quantum Lynx Office, from SaskTel, may help bring this goal to fruition.

The product is a Web-based private office solution created by the Advanced Interactive Solutions division of SaskTel, a Saskatchewan telephone company.

“Quantum Lynx Office is really a Web-based…virtual private office, for one person with an assistant to a few hundred users,” said Kelvin Shepherd, senior vice-president and CTO of SaskTel. “It lets a small organization go in using standard Internet access and a standard Web-browser…and activate an office on-line.”

The office is divided into several sections, much like a physical space. The two most important areas are the “communicate” and “collaborate” sections, Shepherd said. The former is used for e-mailing fellow employees, while the latter is designed to help book group meetings and keep tabs on your own schedule. Quantum Lynx Office (QLO) uses Netscape Messaging 4.1 as its e-mail program. There is also a customized home page and a commerce page with business-related portals.

E-mail messages are stored on the QLO server, allowing users access to their messages regardless of which computer they use. All e-mail messages to and from other QLO members are fully encrypted. In the world of virtual business, this is extremely important.

“One critical reason we looked at [QLO] was because of the security, that it is a secure connection from the PC to the server, that it is encrypted information from sender to receiver as long as those members are within the QL office,” said Gayleen Creelman, manager of information systems with Canpotex Ltd., a Saskatoon-based offshore marketing and distribution agency for the Saskatchewan potash producers. Since Canpotex has offices overseas in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, e-mail security was paramount.

Each account comes with 20MB of e-mail storage space and allows for attachments of up to 10MB.

The “collaborate” portion of the site is where the virtual office comes in. Here you can schedule meetings with co-workers. The calendar acts like a personal assistant by checking for conflicts with other members and notifying all participants of upcoming meetings.

“The ability to put together a virtual office really made good sense for us,” said Dwayne Popowich, CEO of One to One Interactive in Calgary. “We are a completely virtual organization, so it is absolutely imperative that we have a means of communication.”

One to One Interactive is not alone in its use of QLO as a true virtual office. “All the people (here) work from home. This way it avoids us having to build an office, which is great,” said Paul Martin, president of Paul Martin Communications Company Ltd. in Regina. “In terms of value, it is like replacing the overhead of an office.”

For smaller companies without a permanent IT staff, QLO’s ease of use and installation is a nice added bonus, according to users.

“I am the administrator and I am certainly no techno character, but I can do it for our team,” Martin said.

“From an administration point it is very simple to use, and from a users’ point of view, I think the users are finding it easy to use,” said Ron Niemcow, data processing manager of the Canadian Automobile Association’s Saskatchewan branch in Regina.

Creelman likes the fact they have the control to set up their mail boxes without having to call an ISP. “Administration-wise it brings it back down to the company level,” she said.

QLO is not uniquely limited to small companies, according to Shepherd. He said it could give corporate work-group personnel , who are in a number of different locations, the same communications capability as they would have if they were all based in a home office.

Quantum Lynx Office (www.qlo.com) is priced at $14.95 per user, per month and customer help is available 24 hours a day.

SaskTel is at 1-888-255-8826.