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50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2020

An Interview with Lev Bannov, ONLYOFFICE Founder and CEO: ‘We stick to the customer-oriented approach and we’re always open to new ideas, user requests, and contributions’

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“Our mission is to bring the most innovative web office apps to everyone.”

ONLYOFFICE is an open-source office suite developed by Ascensio System SIA, a leading IT company. It features online document editors, a platform for document management, corporate communication, mail, and project management tools.

ONLYOFFICE is delivered either as SaaS or as an installation for deployment on a private network. Access to the system is provided through a private online portal.

The company was incorporated in 2010 and now has offices in Riga, London and Dallas, Texas.

Lev Bannov, ONLYOFFICE Founder and CEO, spoke to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Explain your cloud business services in brief.

We started as a cloud service 10 years ago. For now, we do not only provide users with online office distributed in public cloud or on-premises, but we also deliver online document editors and office tools for other cloud services.

Other developers and companies can integrate our editors into their applications. For example, you have your document management system and would like to edit documents inside it, but creating your powerful editors will be a hard and time-consuming task. Here we come and offer our editors. And there is even an opportunity to change the branding.

We also have quite a big pull of customers who are using ONLYOFFICE online editors within other sync&share/ECM solutions like Alfresco, Confluence, Nextcloud, Seafile, etc.

Besides, we also provide a collaboration platform with multiple productivity tools (document and project management, mail, CRM, calendars, chat, etc.) that is used as a shell for distribution of the editors. And we offer our editors and collaboration platform to hosting and service providers who want to deliver cloud office services to their customers.

Q. What’s that special about ONLYOFFICE editors?

  • One engine for online, mobile, and desktop editors. This guarantees the highest-quality text formatting for each platform and seamless switch from offline to online mode and vice versa.

 

  • Office Open XML (docx, xlsx, pptx) as a core file format that ensures maximum compatibility with MS Office files.

 

  • Seamless and secure collaboration. GDPR compliant ONLYOFFICE allows you to collaborate on docs with your team using real-time and paragraph-locking co-editing modes, comments, track changes, built-in chat, document comparison, version history. Flexible document permissions (read-only, review, comment, fill forms, custom filter) allow you to easily set up access levels. With a wide range of security features and services your data is safe on all fronts: data encryption, private server deployment, JWT that protects documents from unauthorized access, configurable cache lifetime, restriction on copying, downloading, and printing, watermarking, etc.

Q. Do you take responsibility for your clients’ applications, servers, and data security?

How can it be otherwise! We just can’t imagine it. Without responsibility, there isn’t any successful business. We have always treated our users’ data with respect and will always do so. Our areas of responsibility, including reimbursement cases, are always clearly recorded in the agreements we conclude with our customers. If necessary, we are also ready to discuss any individual conditions with each customer.

We constantly improve our solutions, test everything, monitor GitHub and other resources, and fix any issues that might occur.

The latest version of ONLYOFFICE is compliant with international laws and regulations, including GDPR and HIPAA. We stick to data minimalism and let users know how data is collected, stored, and processed. If your organization acts as a data controller and provides ONLYOFFICE to end customers, you get complete access to the procedures through which they can execute their legal rights related to their data.

Q. Do you have qualified individuals who can help you give the best to your clients considering the rapid advancement occurring in cloud technologies?

We are an open-source project; however, it doesn’t mean that we are just a group of people spread around the globe. Our team provides the full cycle of product development and support, including design, coding, testing, preparing technical and API documentation, and providing professional assistance.

Our open-source code ensures our transparency and reliability for users. What’s important is we stick to the customer-oriented approach. We are open to new ideas, user requests, and contributions. Our customers often have interesting ideas for adding new features, new customization options, and new document-level permissions. So, our users know themselves what will be best for them and guide us.

Q. How does a casual day at ONLYOFFICE look like?

Starting from March 2020, we adopted a remote work model because of the pandemic spread. We can say it was a successful experience in our office life. We continue to improve our products, develop new features, and simply do our best.

All of the team members are still working from home using our ONLYOFFICE online office to manage projects, docs, customers, mails, and collaborate on documents in real-time. We have online video conferences (mostly via Zoom) and communicate with each other via our chat client and other messengers like Telegram or WhatsApp.

Q. ‘When people are having fun, they work together better and they produce better work.’ How do you interpret this saying?

We have chosen a difficult task (developing first-class online office apps) that unites us and keeps us motivated and updated. To be honest, we all love difficult tasks — they let us have fun and be creative.

Q. Growing the company based on employees’ passions must priority. Do you ask your employees what they are interested in doing and how they would like to see their career unfold?

Sure! Division of labor is a rule which is appropriate for both the global model and each particular company. Everybody should do what they like, what they are good at, and where they can be better than others. When you see that people use and appreciate the product you are working on, you motivate yourself to move forward.

Q. What does the future hold for ONLYOFFICE and its employees? Are exciting things on the way?

For now, we are planning to go forward as a company, we have enough resources for further growth and we want to take our own decisions. Surely, we are planning to work on extending the functionality of our editors. At the same time, we have lots of inspiring ideas waiting for realization and we want to tell you about several of them.

One of our priorities is, needless to say, data safety. You’ve surely heard of Virtual Data Room Software. From our point of view, the existing virtual data room software can’t ensure ultimate security, since user data is still available to the providers. We are now working on such a feature that will go to the next level of security for document editing and co-authoring.

We are also planning to create multi-functional forms for business…and we dont talk about these simple forms for making polls. Instead, we are planning to create something like PDF for cloud, a tool for working with serious online documents that will allow quickly building any document template (e.g. insurance application, contract, form W-9, certificate, etc.) and will help companies automate lots of their business processes.

Lev Bannov: A Trusted Leader

Lev Bannov, Founder, serves as the Chief Executive Officer of ONLYOFFICE. He’s a passionate person and an enlightened team leader with over 20-years of experience in the IT business, software development, and distribution.

“Our team provides the full cycle of product development and support, including design, coding, testing, preparing technical and API documentation, and providing professional assistance.”