after serious business and still have fun

Virtual Office Suite From AfterOffice

  • June 2000
  • Jaring Internet Magazine

NG Po Jen is a picture of someone having fun. But don't let his self-depreciating manner, boyish charms and soft-spoken candour fool you. Ng runs a promising local Web startup, Sdn Bhd( which provides a Internet-based application service - a virtual office - called after its namesake and currently has more than 400 companies as its clients. Its list of clientele are currently from Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom and included the likes of Adidas Malaysia (, Stein Morgan International ( and even Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (

Two main factors have helped drawn customers to like bees to honey.

The first is due to virtual office's homegrown suite of comprehensive features with site hosting, email, calendar, document center, virtual rolodex, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption for file transfer and file storage, virtual bookmark storage, chat and to-do-list.

In a walk-through demonstration, Ng highlighted's Instant Message (IM) feature where users can send IMs to online team members and colleagues. "Our research and development team anticipated the need for IM last year. Hence, we are one of the earliest virtual office service provider to have introduced the IM feature late last year," said Ng.

"A user can retrieve or manage this list of bookmarks from as long as there's an Internet connection," said Ng. Also in the development pipeline are new features such as database implementation for online inventory control, administration workflow and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) access to the site. Other features such as trade matching services are still on the drawing board, according to Ng. "This is an engine that matches our community members' buy-and-sell profiles and will mark our first step towards facilitating trade on the Internet," he said. It's going to take a two-prong approach - and a lot of work- to develop's new features and expand its market share in the region - a task which Ng relishes and adds, "It's going to be fun."

The second is price. virtual office currently serves two flavours. One is a free advertisement-supported version, with 25MB of virtual storage space per company, calendar sharing option to five users, meeting room discussion topics restricted to three, site bookmark limited to 100 entries and Windows notepad entries to 50 files.

The other is a paid version, at US$180 per annum and 50MB virtual storage space for a basic five-user license. Additional users cost US$18 per additional user per year. The calendar sharing option and meeting room discussion topic increases to 25 while both the site bookmarks and Windows notepad entries is unlimited.