Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The 4-hour body and New application adoption

As I'm reading the 4-hour body by Tim Ferris (NY Times bestseller) I'm being reminded of difficulty of change, and thinking how software is really one of the toughest things to change and adopt across an organization. If you've ever tried to implement new software in an organization, you know how much resistance you face - seems like almost everybody will have a reason why they don't want to switch or adopt new software - "I have another tool I like better", "There's nothing wrong with the system we're using right now", "my people will never be able to learn new software", "this is too lame for engineers - we need to be able to do x,y,z", "the sales people won't embrace it - they are too busy" (feel free to add your own examples).

Tim is dealing with another stubborn change - change in behavior that's required in order to get your physical life in order, and he's talking about 4 things that influence the change:
  1. Power of 5
  2. Making it a game
  3. Making it competitive
  4. Small bites at a time
#1 is really important one in my experience - people will try something once or twice and consider it not working for them 99% of the time, but it really takes 5 times doing something in order for it to stick, so as you're introducing a new system, don't get discouraged at the initial lack of enthusiasm - it will take pulling, pushing, and kicking and screaming, but keep your eyes on the prize - 5 is the magic number :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

VMWare and EC2 - a perfect marriage?

Earlier in the week Amazon announced ability to import a VMWare virtual machine. The press didn't seem to give it that much air time but I think it could be the game changer. So far EC2 has been mostly confined to proof-of-concepts, developments, and smaller projects, and it's been pretty successful at that, however they've been lacking serious customers hosting serious systems. Well, that's about to change.. VMWare image import capability means is that an IT system administrator can take any server that's already running on a VM and either move it to EC2 with one fell swoop or create a backup / hot swap / mirror of it using EC2. For an IT admin being able to do this quickly is a huge deal! And for EC2 this might be a perfect transition path strategy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Drag-n-drop a cell or little things that make a big difference

Zoho just released a drag-n-drop cell(s) feature in its spreadsheets product. By itself not a huge deal.. but what it does do is say a lot about how serious they are about their product's usability and business they are in in general. See, when you're a product manager, making a decision to prioritize drag-n-drop over some other big new feature usually faces an uphill battle from all the directions (engineers think it's to trivial to waste their time on and management has a tough time connecting this feature to dollars). It's only the companies that get that usability is at the core of adoption (I'm talking about really get it, not just a lip service) can be comfortable making those kinds of decision. So again, good job Zoho, keep it up!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Salesforce wants Developers!

Salesforce announced 2 important things this week:
  1. acquisition of Heroku (a Ruby Rails host)
  2. release of platform (data hosting and manipulation)
Both of these are aimed at attracting developers.
Independent developers have always been key to software companies (both Microsoft and Apple owe much of their success to independent developers) and perhaps Salesforce is realizing that getting ISVs to write their code using Salesforce's platform is a great way to influence what other services the developers can integrate with. It's obviously SF's growth strategy for the next couple of years which makes perfect sense to me.

So what about you dear reader? Should you care what Salesforce is doing? I think you should.. Here's why:

things are becoming polarized in the SaaS land - you have to choose to be in the Google camp (using their services and eco-system of applications around it), or you're in Microsoft camp (using MS's eco-system), Zoho camp(ound), or the SalesForce camp. This is fundamental decision you have to make and you will be stuck with it - that's why it's important for you to feel comfortable if you're leaning towards or away from Salesforce to understand what to expect as far as having your or independent developers create applications you need above and beyond what's already there.

P.S. If you're interested in reading more on this topic, Paul Greenberg (Author of CRM at the Speed of Light) has written a much more elaborate article

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Free the Chatter! Chatter is FREE!

A few months ago I wrote a post about Salesforce's new Chatter service and how Salesforce is being unreasonable charging money for this feature that should be a draw.. Well, as of today basic Chatter service is free as it should be.. This is going to serve Salesforce well as it provides a stepstool for getting onto the CRM train (how's that for a metaphor?)!

P.S. A great alternative to Chatter is Yammer

Monday, December 06, 2010

Microsoft is going for the KILL

Microsoft seems to be getting real serious about its CRM business! Today's $200 credit for each new license promotion is showing that those guys are not kidding around.. They are in it to win it. This type of an aggressive push is something that Microsoft has successfully done before, both with Office when it gave away free titles in order to grab market and with notoriously controversial Internet Explorer saga. Ballmer was likely the push behind both of those (speculation on my part) and he's not letting go this time.. If I was Salesforce I'd be worried..

Sunday, December 05, 2010

TeamLab and 2 new trends

While Project Management / Collaboration web apps are nothing new, TeamLab stood out for me for a reason that it highlighted 2 relatively new trends in SaaS:

1. Data Migration (this is a good sign that the market is maturing and new entrants are recognizing alternative solutions exist and those customers are the ones they want to woo first)

2. Self-hosting option. Call it private cloud version, call it open source - either way it does two things for the customer - it allows them to keep the app and more importantly the data in house and second, it creates a level of transparency by allowing the prospective customer to see the quality of code before they make their decision.

Aside from these two trends, TeamLab seems to be a capable PM/Team Collaboration Solution, alternative to the BaseCamp, Central Desktop, and many others.