July 04, 2023

SynergyOS: our journey to improve how office workers work together.

The “Why” behind what we do at Synergy.



In this blog post I’d like to share and elaborate on what we would love to achieve, the “why” behind what we do at Synergy. Our journey started with the goal to improve “how office workers work together”. This sounds like a noble goal but what does it really mean? Who are these office workers and what do we mean by working together?

For us, office workers refer to all knowledge workers excluding developers. In this group we include professionals from financial services, consultants, lawyers, designers, accountants, architects, etc. These professionals consume and produce information, mostly in the form of Microsoft Office files, PDFs, and pictures, and these files are both the inputs and outputs of their work. If we think about their workflow and try to summarize the key tools to perform their jobs, we can find 2 basic elements. On one side, they need a file server to store and work on those files. On the other side, they need email as the communication system to interact with other people and to send and receive files. This is an oversimplification of how people work but we believe that we need to improve these 2 systems to make an impact in the world.


Our end goal is to create the Federated Interoperability Alliance whose primary goal is to define an advanced, open-source protocol for server interoperability (text and files) across organizations. We call this protocol the Federated Server Transfer Protocol, “FSTP”, to be designed as a modern successor to the email protocol called Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, “SMTP”.

What are the problems that we want to solve?

Organizations cannot efficiently communicate and collaborate between them because sharing text and files is a manual and error-prone process. Email is the standard, interoperable protocol used to connect organizations today, and it was invented before the internet was.

The problems we want to solve come from the lack of interoperability between companies’ files servers. Because of this foundational problem, we still live in a world that operates with basic file repositories and we collaborate primarily over email, sending files as attachments. We perform manual processes which are error prone and could be automated. Let’s dig into the details which I’m sure you all are familiar with them:

1. Disconnected file networks


One of the key problems when different companies are working together is the manual aspect of sending files back and forth. It’s error prone and time consuming. The reason is that we do not have an open standard to connect file servers together from different companies. One could argue that companies can solve this by storing the files in a shared drive or virtual data room and work together there, but even this has problems too:

  • Privacy: most of the time you want to work on a file without anyone seeing your changes yet. You might need to first review the file internally within your firm before making that version of the file available to the other party.
  • Archival: even if you work in a shared file server, you still need to manually copy those files to your own internal file server for archival purposes, so you can keep access to those files in the future and to comply with legal obligations. Since there is no standard file server interoperability across companies, we have to resort to sending emails with file attachments. Why? Because email is the only interoperable protocol that allows a company server to communicate with another company server.

2. Collaborating over email


The workflow in professional services is email based, with up to 66% of employee’s time spent on email management. From sharing files, to tracking and forwarding important messages, to organizing projects and tasks. However, email was not designed for these use cases since it is not connected with file repositories, and it is not designed for group conversations. We spend our days sending files back and forth and saving them manually, with all company knowledge dispersed across individual mailboxes. This is not only time-consuming but also prone to errors. Keeping track of all the emails and files can be a daunting task and it's easy to lose track of important documents or messages in the flood of information. This can lead to missed deadlines, lost work, and general disorganization. The business world has outgrown email and it is time to fix it. Despite the multitude of communication systems available, intra company communication is primarily done over email

3. File version control issues


This is one of the most common problems faced by office workers and applies to working both internally within the company and externally with other companies. When multiple people work on the same file, it can be difficult to keep track of changes and ensure that everyone is working with the right version. Office workers manually manage all the versions of files using different file name endings. When someone works on a new version, they usually save the same file with a new name (e.g., Contract v22 2023-June-10 by John) and blindly trust that everyone follows the same dynamic and order. This can lead to confusion, duplication of work, and even the loss of important changes.

How big is the problem?

Companies waste significant time and money in productivity because information (both text and files) cannot flow automatically / efficiently from one company server to another company server. According to research:

  • ~$2 trillion wasted annually in the US on repetitive tasks that could be automated
  • ~520 hours a year per knowledge worker

Why are we in this situation?

Organizations in professional services today work following the same best practices as in the 80s: companies work with centralized file servers which cannot communicate with other companies file servers.

Consequently, all companies resort to the only interoperable standard that we use today: emails with attachments (text + files with the SMTP protocol). Email was invented before the Internet and it was never intended to be the collaboration protocol for todays’ interconnected world.

The solution: inspiration from the developer workflow

I have a background in professional services, with experience from small and medium-size firms to one of the largest global banks, and through all these experiences I always felt the need to improve this central part of my job. For a long time, I did not know how to solve it, but I knew it was a problem worth solving. Some years ago I started to learn how to code and how developers work and their best practices. For me, learning how developers solved similar issues in the past was the turning point, as their solutions resonated deeply with me.

These solutions might sound familiar to you. The first version of email was not interoperable between companies, and it did not support file attachments. Only later it was standardized with extensions to SMTP. Software developers used to have similar challenges in the past, managing their files on basic file repositories and collaborating over email. That’s why they created real version control systems, like Git, and centralized collaboration platforms, like GitHub.

1. File networks / Package managers:


Developers can share and reuse files from other people through package managers (like NPM), bringing files and specific versions of those files to their own file repository. We are taking inspiration from how package managers work but improving on them to bring bidirectional sharing of files across companies. We are also inspired by new open protocols for decentralized communication like the Matrix network. We believe that an open server-to-server communication that transports and syncs files and messages across companies’ servers with best security will transform how people work.

2. Centralized conversations connected with files


Developers moved from email chains to collaborating on centralized conversations, usually called “Issues” and “Pull requests”. These conversations are designed for groups so you can easily invite more people to read the conversation without having to constantly forward messages. Also, Issues let you track your work on the platform where the files live, making it possible to organize and track work and approve or reject changes to files easily.

3. Version control


Developers solved the mess of file version control a long time ago with version control systems designed for their workflow. These systems helps them to keep track of all file versions and their history, making it easy to control any changes and revert back if necessary. Today, the most popular version control system is Git, a decentralized version control system created initially for the development of the Linux kernel. We are creating a centralized version control system designed for the specific needs of office workers and the security needs of professional services firms, which works with the decentralized Federated Server Transfer Protocol, “FSTP”, to automatically synchronize files and directories across companies.

Example of the Federated Server Transfer Protocol and Version Control System

The Federated Server Transfer Protocol and Version Control System work in tandem to bring file interoperability across file server. File versions form a directed acyclic graph where major versions are automatically synced across servers, whereas minor versions and draft are only internal to one company server.

How would this system work in practice? Let’s look at this example.

The Federated Server Transfer Protocol, FSTP, is designed as a modern successor to the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, SMTP. The FSTP protocol is based on:

  • Web-friendly APIs with HTTP + JSON
  • Fully open:
    • Open federation: no central authority or central point of control
    • Open standard: documented standard with no IP / patent licensing issues

What are some use cases and benefits?

  • Increased efficiency: reduction of time wasted on manual tasks (manually managing versions and sending file versions in email, etc.)
  • Reduced errors: reduction of human errors in the management of files and versions
  • Improved productivity: more time for employees on value-added tasks
  • Automation / Artificial Intelligence (AI): business processes are conducted by multiple software applications that are not fully integrated. Interoperability brings a common interface to automate business process. Time can be reduced by two-thirds over the time required for manual processing. The AI revolution can greatly benefit if we provide the mechanism to access information and work on our behalf.
  • Security & compliance: sharing files and textual information over emails can be a security risk. Email systems do not have approval mechanisms to share with the best security.
  • Better security with cryptography: robust security is crucial in a point-to-point network that eliminates the need for all the nodes (companies’ servers) to know and trust each other. Similar technology is used in blockchain, but we improve on the intrinsic blockchain disadvantages.

What is SynergyOS?

SynergyOS combines the best elements from email (server interoperability), git (file version control, package managers), and git-platforms (centralized collaboration). In a way we are not reinventing the wheel, we are applying proven solutions, but designed and built for the needs and use cases of knowledge workers and professional services firms.

We would like to make the protocol an open standard that can be used by any company. We will provide our specific implementation, but the goal is to create a federated network for everybody.


I know that this is a hard problem to solve but one that is worth fighting for, for everyone’s benefit. We need a paradigm shift, a major change in how office workers work together with disruptive technology that creates an interconnected network.

At Synergy, we have started building a platform that brings value in today’s world, but out system is being built and designed for the future. A future where every company can work with other companies seamlessly, improving collaboration and efficiency, and ultimately, helping everyone achieve more.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the future of work that we envision will need years to be built. We hope that we get the necessary support and resources from our clients, investors, and the community as a whole, to keep working on this dream until we make it a reality.

If you would like to join our efforts and collaborate on this new open standard, feel free to reach out at, we look forward to hearing from you!