Saturday, December 31, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
- Systems Pull (how many other internal systems rely on files being in that format or integrate with the old system)
- Re-training Required (this might be drastically infuenced by the demographic make up of the organizations that you're targeting or deploying for - younger people are much more interested in embracing new technology)
- Satisfaction (or Lack of) with the existing systems. How much are current systems broken.. Obviously the more dissatisfaction, the easier it will be to instigate a switch.
- Grass Roots possibility. Does the new system require IT or an executive committee to sign of on it or can it be started grass roots and they catch on fire?
- Level of Noise. How much noise is there in the marketplace that pertains to this set of functionality? Are there tons of competitors pitching this and incumbents assuring the customer that this will be delivered in the "next release"
- New Solution Fatique. Have a bunch of other solutions been tried recently to address this set of functionality? If true, there will be a lot of resistance and distrust from the user base.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
- Platform (covers lots of functionality and is very extensible)
- Industry-specific (provides a comprehensive solution for particular industry)
- Point (solves one problem, integrates well with existing systems)
Thursday, December 08, 2011
The problem of relevancy faces any successful project or business as the problems shift, but the organizations and the thinking has already been built to solve a specific issue and the more successful the product was at solving that problem, the harder it is to detach from it going forward. However, detaching from the yesterday's problem is exactly what needs to be done in the modern world as the ground shifts all the time..
So what's my solution? If I was Plaxo, I would look at what other problems/opportunities exist around the address book.. It doesn't take long to notice that contact info (business card) exchange is one of the hot issues.. If I was Plaxo, I would look at acquiring Bump App or building equivalent functionality..
In Today's world it's Stay Relevant or Die..
Sunday, December 04, 2011
The company had 3,500 customers and 15 million users in 168 countries and was publicly traded. Clients include Comcast and Siemens.
Monday, November 21, 2011
|Conference Room Endpoints||Cisco / Tandberg|
Conference Phones (Audio-only)
|Desktop / Mobile Endpoints||Cisco / Tandberg|
Skype for PC/Mac
Desk Phones (Audio-only)
|Desktop / Mobile Devices||Android Smartphones|
Skype for iPhone
Skype for iPad
Mobile Phones (Audio-only)
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
"Usability Matters"!!! (as in it's often the reason a product succeeds or fails)
"Discretionary efforts is the key to productivity" (as opposed to mandated activities)
"Start with a product, finish with a platform"
"Profiles are the basis for collaboration"
"Pushing all information into one system doesn't work" (making a case for connecting information that resides in different systems)
"Sharepoint: most used or most licensed?"
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Monday, November 07, 2011
Social Power And The Coming Corporate Revolution couple of days ago.
It paints a picture of the inevitable "open" enterprise where everything is out in the open - from employee peer performance ranking, to the manager effectiveness, to the customer feedback, making the system very efficient and fair.. So the days of "The Office" as we know it today might be numbered, and we're entering the brave new world of Transparency..
The article is full of good insights and quotes:
I don’t think it’s crazy to ask if your CEO is the next Mubarak,” says Gary Hamel, one of business’ most eminent theoreticians of management. “The elites—or managers in companies—no longer control the conversation. This is how insurrections start.” Says Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, Inc.
“‘Information is power’ used to mean that hoarding information gave you power. Now we’re seeing that sharing information is power. The more you can share, the more you can help other people—and the more it becomes apparent you’re an expert and a valuable employee.” - David Sacks, CEO of Yammer:Definitely a good and empowering read..
Some of the companies/products featured in the article:
Rypple - employee performance management
Yammer - enterprise social network
Jive - enterprise social network
Monday, October 24, 2011
Oracle is playing a game of Risk or Monopoly or whatever buying up more and more properties. This time it was RightNow. I'm sorry to see another one sell out - they really didn't have to.. They had liquidity and were profitable. It was pure shortsighted greed. Kind of sad.. But that's ok, make room for the new kids on the block.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Project Management is an area that concern everyone, whether you're managing clients or building a rocket, you're facing the need to keep track of tasks, dole out responsibilities, monitor the progress, remove obstacles, look for ways to leverage the resources effectively, estimate the completion, etc, etc..
Traditional tools like MS Project put you in a very rigid framework of having to plan everything ahead of time and god forbid something should go not according to the plan (that never happens, right?? ), managing the change becomes a nightmare.. And this is where the task completion is predictable and dependencies are few.. What if you have dependencies that are very hard to predict or manage or the tasks that are hard to estimate, or you loose a resource, or ..
In the world of high productivity and "Agile", it's clear that a better approach is needed - an approach where monitoring and re-prioritization are woven into the fabric of the solution.
Trello hits the nail on the head with it's Project Board approach. It allows a bird's eye view of the projects and instant re-prioritization of the tasks. It makes it easy to delegate the tasks and publish the projects for others to see (reporting anyone?), but it also passes a very important test for a tool that is essential - it makes you WANT to use it!!
With time I expect to see more status indicators like if the task is in danger, addition of dependencies perhaps.. Another component that can light the adoption on fire is to integrate it with large touch screens that can be hung in the halls or conferences rooms!
P.S. One other very attractive thing about Trello's approach is that the "stacks" don't have to be projects - they can be stages in the process for example, creating a great workflow app. Very flexible indeed!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Box.net has raised a total of $162 million.
Aaron Levie, who helped start Box.net in 2005, is its CEO. The company makes online file sharing software.
While I like Box.net, the amount of capital raised is staggering!!! And this is not capital-intensive business (at least it shouldn't be - after all they don't build factories or buy a ton on material).. I understand they want to attract the best minds, but still.. throwing money at it and hiring people just because is never a good thing.
My problem with this level of capitalization is that it pipes the companies full of steroids and should something go wrong in the market or with their execution, the company will crumble..
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Over time Visual Basic transitioned into a Visual Studio where novices are NOT welcome.. Not only that, but it didn't keep up with the other technology transformations, specifically moving the client to the web browser.
So what is a modern-day equivalent or Visual Basic? There are a few options out there.. If you're on Salesforce.com - you can use their tools to create custom screens, workflows, etc.. Then there are a few PaaS platforms that address the data-driven, web-based applications, however very few of them go deep enough to really provide a viable platform for the type of applications that people had built with Visual Basic and MS Access. The other pitfall many of them share is by going the publicly hosted route.. This chops off the predominant use case of wanting to connect with internal data sources.
I spent some time learning about OutSystems over the past couple of months and it really impresses me with the both depth and breadth of the implementation. It's easy to get started, yet packs a ton of power. It's web based, but is hosted by the customer and ties into customer's data. Speaking of tying into customer data, it has the right adapters and import tools to either develop an application on top of an existing data source, or to import the data from that spreadsheet that's no longer cutting it. At the heart of the system though is a visual logic designer making programming easier for non-programmers (and probably programmers as well)! I have seen visual logic designers before, but not since Macromedia's Authorware have I met one that was actually usable - this is a huge feat in itself..
Another point worth making is that most of the PaaS (platform-as-a-service) vendors stop at implementing web forms and workflows. OutSystems however is showing its understanding of the market by providing things like visualization widgets and newsletter templates.
OutSystems Server runs as either .NET or Java and can be run on Amazon EC2 if you so desire.
From the deployment standpoint (again illustrating the depth of the offering and the marketplace connectedness), OutSystems provides very robust and streamlined mechanism to deploy changes to staging, production, or roll the changes back.
Reading through the community board and some consultant pieces, it's pretty clear that the platform gets some good REAL use, which is a good indicator that it's not just smoke, but that it's bringing real value to folks.
OutSystems gets my unofficial VB replacement award and a big thumbs up!
From the few things I think are missing, notable are 1) a Mac client for their IDE, and 2) a version of a UI designer that's targeted to non-data-driven apps (such as Point-Of-Sale systems).. But I'm sure these guys are looking at both ;)
Saturday, July 02, 2011
Here's what I expected:
- An improvement to Web version of the Outlook that would make handling attachments much better by using the online version of Office
- Automatic syncing of the documents to the cloud ala Box.net or Dropbox
- Full-featured (Google Docs or better) in-place editing with build-in versioning
- Lotus Notes style database integration
- Good CRM integration
- A sub-par Office document editor suite (it lags Google Docs big time). Simple things like typing in a document are subject to some buffering artifacts..
- No attachment editing integration
- No document synchronization to get the documents in
- No CRM integration
- No DB as part of the Office Suite
Friday, June 24, 2011
I mean while Google Docs may have provided an API that allowed Box.net to "hijack" their app, is this really the model they will support going forward? Isn't their business to get people over to their Google Apps platform? And havent' they been actively building out their own document management solution?
While I really like what Box.net has done - they've found a lot of value to add around online document backup - this is great, kudos, but this move just seems amateurish to me. If this was about providing online document editing, they could have licensed or developed their own technology (afterall didn't they just raise $48 million?). If this was about fending off the threat from Microsoft's Office 360 and buy them time to develop their own, there might be some merit to that, but seems like confusing a customer is a high price to pay for a questionable benefit.
I would like to see Box.net keep developing value around document management (workflows, approvals, etc.) and develop their own online editor.. That would make things clean and understandable to the customer.. What do you think??
Google Calendar's new Appointment Slot feature is a FANTASTIC attempt to deal with this exact problem and could very well be the biggest PRODUCTIVITY ENHANCER of the year!
Monday, March 28, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
According to Gartner, only 20% of IT staff have expert app development skills – WaveMaker is the tool to enable the other 80% of IT to build web apps quickly and deploy them to the cloud with a single mouse click.
As WaveMaker went from 3,000 downloads a month in January, 2010 to 135,000 downloads a month in December, 2010, we realized that we had created the perfect “on ramp” for cloud computing. WaveMaker can play a big role in bringing large numbers of developers to the cloud, but on ly if we team with the right cloud partner.
Friday, March 04, 2011
- customer interaction is not your grandmother's "pick up a phone and call" model - it requires reaction speed, mining of the cloud, and proactive approach
- Salesforce Service cloud now has good connectors for Twitter and Facebook
- Pretty slick workflow integration from escalating the issue, to filing it to the knowledge base, to dynamics diagnostics and knowledge base mining, to video chat
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
- great news for small businesses and telecommuters
- good news for businesses of all sizes (eventually it will make its way into larger and larger businesses)
- good news for both Skype and Citrix
- bad news for WebEx
- bad news for all other Web conferencing solutions (including Salesforce's DimDim acquisition)
Monday, February 28, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
- Constant Contacts feels that bulk email is becoming commoditized and wants to protect their position and margins
- Constant Contact feels that their customers (small businesses) are not well served by integrations with existing CRMs (Constant Contact integrates with most CRMs like SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho, etc.) and is doing what's right for the customer.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Enter Ace Project.. While not the flashiest project management tool around, it has an extensive list of modules: project management with portfolios, task dependencies, gantt charts, calendars, project templates; document management with document sharing, versioning and file locking; time sheet management; expense management with approval workflows; collaboration complete with internal mailbox; HR management, reporting, and other essentials. What's more important, it comes with a license that allows users to take over the code!
Bringing SaaS apps inhouse is a hot topic these days as rules and regulations make leaving data one someone else's servers a risk that a company must be willing to take. If you get a standards MS project suite, it will cost you a pretty penny and while it will be extensible, it will bring the MS development costs and complexities with it. Taking all that into consideration, I think products like ACE Project are going to be a good fit for many companies that are looking for real ownership of the IT products they deploy.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
If you read closely on the box it references a download into Quickbooks format, which probably means that the user has to download transactions from the terminal (which has to be powered by a pretty beefed up PC) and import it into Quickbooks. This kind of manipulations leads to disconnected processes with a lot of manual steps and no real-time visibility or centralization.
This however creates a great opportunity for SaaS accounting solutions to provide a well integrated experience where all the transactions are immediately synced to the online database, the management can see and react to real-time data, all the refund/corrections are immediately processed and don't have to be re-synced, and any and all communication can be triggered off the transaction data right at the time the transaction went through.
One thing that has to happen however is software providers have to get their hands dirty with hardware. Yes, I know, you guys hate that, it's capital intensive and creates logistical headaches, but I'm afraid that is what it takes to get a product into mass market, and mass market is what you want, is it not?
SaaS accounting companies - don't snooze - this is your chance to really break into this market, use it!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The only thing stopping Zoho now in my mind is the fact that they are not a public company.. I don't know how many businesses will entrust their finances to an unregulated entity.. On the other hand that is the case with the rest of up-n-comers. How about that IPO, Zoho?
Monday, January 17, 2011
Those who've used Mint.com and have a business are probably wishing they had an accounting system as frictionless as that! I certainly am and for a while I've kept an eye on web-based billing and accounting applications out there, of which I must say there's no shortage. My criteria has been to find something that would replace Quickbooks entirely while providing a Mint.com kind of experience, that would offer effective cash flow management, and would be integrated with CRM systems and credit card terminals.
Problem with accounting software has always been that it required dedicated time to collect and enter the data and the more data has to be entered, the more daunting the task becomes, so most business owners would just relegate the job to the bookkeeper / accountant and thus would rarely use it as a business intelligence and forecasting tool that it could be. I think this is about to change however. I think we're nearing a point where business owners are actually going to start living inside of their finance systems much the same way they currently live inside email/calendar.
Why you ask? Due to a new generation of online accounting solutions that do more, make it much more than simple double entry accounting. The new systems have integrated invoicing, automated collection, multi-user access, reporting, and most importantly - bank account sync! This last point is what I think is what could tip the scales for these solutions, and is a reason why I want to highlight Wave accounting.
Wave is the only one out of half a dozen solutions I’ve looked at that places the Mint.com “frictionless” experience high on their priority list. From getting the bank transactions into the system (which is done via an automated sync) to auto-categorization. To me this is really the key to moving from “get the books done once a month” experience to “use it to manage your business” one. Specifically, it allows the manager to:
- get a good handle on your cashflow
- review the categorization
- and most importantly, not wait for your bookkeeper to get through the transactions in order to generate an up-to-date report
Wave is missing a few features that their competitors have like time tracking, expense handling, estimates/quotes/proposals and other CRM-type of functions) but those are not rocket science and I’m sure Wave is looking at adding those soon (just like the competition is probably going to look into adding live sync and auto-categorization.)
In any case, I think the train is about to leave the station and Intuit has some serious competition to worry about. I’m really excited about watching this space.
Other very capable online accounting packages:
Freshbooks (time tracking, contractor handling), Kashoo, Yendo, Xero (handles expense claims), Free Agent (handles estimates, quotes, proposals), Bill.com (has a payment portal that accepts ePayments and Paypal)
Add to this list Outright - it has auto-sync with credit card and bank accounts like wave, and also has tax estimation. This is not a ledger product however, so don't expect to do serious accounting with it. It will produce a schedule C. No access to other parties. Best suited for single proprietors from what I can gather.
Monday, January 10, 2011
"Free" means that there's a plan without a monthly payment (which otherwise costs $12.95/mo). GoPayment also offers a free card reader (valued $60-120) so not a bad deal at all!
What is does NOT offer (and this is my beef with other Intuit's offerings) is integration with Quickbooks online! To which I say "reallY? You guys have got to get your internal groups to work with one another!" This creates a perfect opportunity for online accounting startups to offer a similar package that actually avoids the grunt work of double entry!
ReadWriteWeb had a nice review of the few mobile credit card solutions today.