Category Archives: SaaS

Conference Call Survey In The Cloud – The Waiting Game

Conference Call Survey In The Cloud – The Waiting Game

Conference Call Survey

Online conference calls using Cloud and Connected devices have become a norm in most modern businesses. As long as employees can access a computer, or have a smartphone or other mobile device available, they can make the meeting.

With the plethora of available cloud-based conferencing and collaboration tools available, getting together with clients, company executives and co-workers is a breeze. It saves time and energy, and should improve productiveness in all business environments. But when dealing with people, even the best cloud-based conferencing services can fall short of expectations, with some employees calling in late and others hanging up before calls even begin.

A major problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any accepted etiquette when it comes to the dial-in and on-hold behavior of those attending cloud-based conferences. However, it does appear that women have more patience, joining conference calls earlier and waiting longer on hold before hanging up. It is also clear that very few people waste the time spent on hold while hanging around waiting for other participants to get online.

Conferencing and collaboration provider, InterCall has released an infographic that reveals what US employees do when placed on hold, waiting to join a conference call, as well as the changing habits of those joining online conferences.

On-Hold-Habits-Infographic1

They surveyed around 200 full-time employees who join one or more conference call each week, in an endeavor to more about dial-in behavior. They wanted to know how proactive and patient conference call attendees are when waiting for other attendees, and what if anything they do while kept on hold. They also wanted to know whether habits changed in relation to those involved in a particular conference.

From the survey, two areas that appear to need attention are the integration of video conferencing tools to improve punctuality of attendees, and swapping out pre-conference and on-hold background music in favor of company news or current events.

While conference calls have become an essential part of doing business, this shouldn’t preclude companies from “refining their tools or processes to match evolving employee habits,” says InterCall’s executive vice-president of conferencing and collaboration, Rob Bellmar. “We believe that with a better understanding of current conferencing behaviors, companies can start taking strategic steps to change them.”

Punctuality Joining Conference Calls

shutterstock_149243807

On average, most employees seem to give themselves more than enough time to log into conference calls on time, with 55 percent dialing in one to three minutes earlier than required, and only 10 percent joining as the conference starts. Interestingly, 13 to 14 percent of employees dial in at least five minutes earlier if they are “meeting with” clients or supervisors. They seem to have less respect for co-workers with 20 percent dialing in as the calls start.

When conference calls are delayed, attendees do sometimes hang up, but the survey showed 54 percent would wait six minutes or longer before doing this. Again they are usually more willing to wait longer if conference calls are with customers or company leaders – with 31 percent being prepared to wait at least 10 minutes.

Generally employees say they are courteous if they find they cannot attend a conference call or are running late, with 93 percent notifying other attendees.

Another interesting result was that 63 percent of respondents believed attendees would be earlier if the it was a video conference call rather than simply an audio meeting, implying that visibility has an impact on accountability.

What Employees Do While Waiting On Hold

shutterstock_278030015

Waiting for a conference call can waste a lot of time, particularly if meetings are running late. But results of the survey show that generally employees don’t waste time while waiting. In fact a very large percentage (76), use the time to carry out other work.

While not all these activities relate to work:

  • 65 percent check email
  • 35 percent send text messages (it doesn’t state whether these are business related or personal)
  • 33 percent check out their social media accounts (probably personal)
  • 26 percent take the opportunity to read
  • 21 percent stretch
  • 16 percent eat
  • 8 percent shop online or gossip

Often those waiting for conference calls to begin are subjected to music. While half the respondents said that the music played affected their attitude in the following conference call, 47 percent said they’d rather listen to news than music. Nearly a quarter (21 percent) reported negative vibes towards pre-conference music.

Gender and Age Implications

Above all else, the survey found that “women prove to be more prompt, patient callers than men,” with more women consistently joining conference calls early, regardless of who was in involved in the call. Further, women are twice as likely as men to join at least five minutes early. Women are also more likely to hang on longer on hold before leaving. On average, it seems that 21 percent of women will wait at least 10 minutes before leaving compared with 14 percent of men.

Perhaps oddly, while millennials (born between the early 1980s and early 2000s) are the least likely employees to dial in early, it’s the 46- to 60-year-olds who tend to dial in at the last moment, with 16 percent admitting they dial in as meetings are starting. However older folk are more likely to wait on hold for longer before hanging up. Only 45 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds will wait six or more minutes; 53 percent of 26- to 35-year-olds; 62 percent of 36- to 45-year-olds; and 63 percent of 46- to 60-year-olds. At the same time, older employees are more likely to hang up without contacting other callers.

One statistic that was particularly unsurprising was that more than half of the 18- to 25-year-olds admit they check social media while on hold, while only 17 percent of 46- to 60-year-olds bother.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Penny Swift

Moving Your Enterprise Apps To The Cloud Is A Business Decision

Moving Your Enterprise Apps To The Cloud Is A Business Decision

Moving Your Enterprise Apps

Whether it be enterprise apps or any other, if there is any heavy data that is going to be transacted in and through an app, then affiliating it with the Cloud becomes a must. And then an important question arises: How do you decide when to integrate your enterprise app with the Cloud and when not to?

According to IDG’s Cloud Computing Survey, 69% of businesses have migrated at least one application to the cloud infrastructure (2014) and 18% have migration plans.

The reasons why most companies want at least one of their apps to be migrated to the Cloud are low cost, low maintenance responsibility, less infrastructural expenses and lots of free space for their data. Some business managers even choose to do so just because it is the current trend and everyone else is doing it. But are these the right reasons to make this decision?

One must remember that, after all, the apps that are being considered are business apps. They have been built with a goal to aid companies in whichever way they could. So whether to affiliate the enterprise app to the Cloud should not be a decision made by looking at personal aspects, casually. This decision should be a business decision guided by the factors that affect the company.

Another important point to consider is How serious is the situation?

serious

International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that IaaS market has already reached $56.6 billion by the end of 2014 and will grow to $127 billion by 2018. This growth, as mentioned above, may be driven by the wrong causes or reasons. Most businesses skip the most integral parts of making a decision: research, analysis, and discussion. Especially in the case of Cloud Integration, most people just assume it to be the right decision and go for it.

So what points should be taken into consideration while making the business decision of integrating an enterprise app with the Cloud?

The reasons and considerations could vary from business to business and are completely dependent on the particular business needs. Here are few of the most relevant points.

  1. Scale your server requirements depending on the business logic: If your app has a lot of data that needs to be saved, then integrating it with the Cloud is appropriate. An additional important advantage to this is that you can reset the settings and increase or decrease the server’s load-bearing capacity according to the needs of the hour. Even new servers can be brought up in just a few minutes. This saves time and money when sudden changes occur in the incoming or outgoing flow of data.
  1. Security as a service: Usually companies apply a single sign-on process to give access to the data to all employees. This might prove to be a disastrous situation in certain scenarios. On the Cloud, you can add security for every app by requiring a separate access for each employee to access the data, making security identity centric. Management can then decide what access should be given to whom, based on an employee’s credibility, reliability, position and needs.
  1. Prioritize servers to be virtualized: Examining the CPU utilization can be a way to get it prioritized. For example, any server that operates at higher levels compared to others and handles important functionality, and should never go down, can be virtualized. This frees up the physical server, thereby avoiding any crashes that may happen in the future due to heavy data.
  1. Real-time data feeds: This is one of the biggest advantages of integrating apps with the Cloud. It is plausible for there to be an interaction between the Cloud, where the data is being curated to, and the devices (smartphones) where the data is being downloaded, uploaded or edited. There is no requirement for an external device and no time is wasted getting the data first and then working on it. It is much like switching from CDs to Spotify, Pandora, etc. for listening to songs of your choice.

More and more enterprise apps are getting affiliated to the Cloud, which opens up space for security, growth and extensive data. Even as the Cloud has been a part of an enterprise app’s growth, there is still a lot to be learnt from this technological development. With the piling up of experience in Cloud integration, soon newer ways of using it and growing through it will be developed to change the way businesses compete with each other through enterprise apps.

Let’s hope that moving your enterprise apps to the Cloud is efficient and effective for your business.

rakesh

By Rakesh Patel

In his two decades of long career, Rakesh has played important roles in versatile areas of the software business assuming responsibilities as System Analyst and Design Architect, Project Manager, Functional Consultant, Head of Business Development and a Business Unit Leader.

Rakesh has been into Mobile App space for the last 7 years and overlooked delivery of more than 3000+ Mobile Application Projects. As an entrepreneur, he started Space-O Technologies in 2010 and has now 140+ developers working on Mobile technologies in 2 state-of-art Development Centers, each in India and Russia.

The Growth Of Cloud Based Phone Systems

The Growth Of Cloud Based Phone Systems

Cloud Based Phone Systems

Cloud based phone systems allow the use of the internet for making and receiving calls and with the growth in cloud computing and cloud services these systems are gaining popularity. With cloud phone system integration with Office 356, the significant savings available are now more accessible. RingCentral Office’s integration with Microsoft Office 365 blends the cloud business phone system with productivity work environments, bridging the divide between communication and throughput. Users will be able to click-to-call numbers within the Office 365 interface, and call both internally and externally using a corporate directory. Online video meetings and audio conferences can be established and will automatically appear in the Office 365 calendar.

Why Cloud Calling

voip
Cloud based phone systems provide a host of benefits, some similar to other advantages in the cloud environment, and others unique to telephony:

  • Amalgamated Communications – with seamless integration between devices, making and answering calls can be directed to whichever device is accessible in the moment, be it mobile, handset, tablet, or PC. You can even check your voicemail from your email inbox.
  • Cost Reduction – as with many other cloud applications, the cost benefits of cloud calling are notable. No PBX system is required, no copper wiring, and hand-in-hand, the only maintenance necessary is of the actual devices used for calling.
  • Management – cloud phone systems can be managed through a web browser from any location, and handling rules, users, and remote details can be changed or updated as. Billing can also be accurately monitored, with all costs specified and reports available for drilling down into the finer details.
  • Feature-rich – small and medium businesses now have access to a host of communication features often out of reach through standard telephony systems. Call diverting, call logs, conference calling, and auto attendant are standard features of most cloud based phone systems.

Implementing Cloud Calling

BYOD

Installing these systems is a hassle-free and inexpensive process. There are a number of cloud communication phone services from providers such as Grasshopper, 8×8, Vonage, RingCentral and Thinkingphones.  Many promise specialist implementation for smooth transitions for both local and remote employees using existing IP phones or rented devices, and PCs and smartphones can be connected to their service applications. Employees no longer need personal and business devices, but can literally bring their own devices to work to be integrated into the corporate system. Many providers are offering advanced cloud based phone systems with message management, call forwarding, voicemail, and both traditional-styled phones as well as mobile phone connection. Benefits to small businesses include the professional appearance created, lowered cost, and a blend of flexible, mobile, and productive features.

Call Revolution And Growth Hacking

Though social media, email, and text interactions are popular methods of communication today, a large percentage of the world still relies on and prefers telephonic communication. Knowing when and how to reach your audience is as important as your infrastructure. While stats show a greater answer rate late at night, the wise man understands that this isn’t the time to offer new telephone services, though it might produce higher sales of death insurances.

ThinkingPhones, an innovator in developing mobile-enabled, analytics-driven business communications has released a report  “Answer Rates in the US: Knowing When to Call,” revealing ideal times for businesses to call prospects and generate qualified leads. The report, which examines over 25 million inbound phone calls, identifies exactly when individuals are most and least likely to answer a call based on their location and whether or not the call originates from a known or unknown number.

ThinkingPhones Infographic - US Answer Rates (FINAL)_001

(Infographic Source: ThinkingPhones.com)

Shrewd businesses are cognisant of the impact of IPv6 and know how to use the cloud for increased productivity in a variety of areas.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Blocking The Cloud – Ad Blocking Profits & Pitfalls

Blocking The Cloud – Ad Blocking Profits & Pitfalls

Ad Blocking Profits & Pitfalls

A German court recently ruled that ad blocking software is legal, with Adblock Plus beating out Die Zeit and Handelsblatt claims that their plug-in is anti-competitive. While ad blocking does cause considerable strain for online publishers and marketers, Adblock has encouraged advertisers and content creators to work with them to create non-intrusive and useful advertising.

Handelsblatt, however, states that ad blocking “is an inadmissible and anti-competitive practice“, and followed the judgment with comments that “it infringes the freedom of press. Therefore, we will await the written reasons for the judgment, analyze them and examine the prospects of an appeals procedure.”

 shutterstock_295182989

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

More recently it’s become clear that Apple will be allowing ad blockers on iPhones. Documentation released after the Worldwide Developers Conference suggests that developers will soon be able to create ad blocking software for Safari, and as implied by Wired it appears Apple is trying to pull iPad and iPhone users off the web and into only Apple-certified apps and content – thus ensuring all news and revenue is theirs alone. Though Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the likes run on ads, Apple does not. The New York Times states that 75% of Google’s mobile search ad revenue comes from ads viewed on iOS devices, and Tim Cook, Apple CEO, has criticized tech companies that rely on data mining, stating, “you might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email or your search history or now even your family photos data-mined and sold off for God knows what advertising purpose, and we think someday, customers will see this for what it is.” While an ad-free Safari may specifically benefit Apple, ad blocking software is already available to Android users, and so it could be argued that Apple is merely providing a tool that consumers want.

StudiesSFU-Test have found that installing ad blocking software can reduce bandwidth usage by 25%, and even more dramatically by 40% when used for streaming video, but according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau ad blocking is a grave threat to marketers, entertainers, and publishers since for many of these sites ads pay the bills and aren’t only designed to track and annoy consumers.

Forbes reports that ad blockers have cost publishers $22 billion this year, with 198 million people employing ad blockers, and the use of such software growing 42% in the last year. By 2016, it’s expected that ad blockers will cause an estimated loss of $20.3 billion in the U.S. alone.

PageFair is an Ireland-based startup that’s teamed up with Adobe to help sites “survive the rise of Adblock.” Providing free tools for measuring your block rate, PageFair’s 5-minute install promises to unlock revenue with non-intrusive ads targeting the ad blocking audience. Some sites and applications offer ad-free versions for a small price, but most people won’t actually pay for these benefits, preferring the free tools already available, and so companies that depend on online advertising are going to have to find new streams of revenue, or employ novel advertising strategies in the future. Take a look at How to Tame the Digital Marketing Beast to understand how digital marketing impacts your organization and how best to maximize marketing investments as well as increase marketing agility and efficiency.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Leveraging Carrier Ethernet To Connect To The Cloud

Leveraging Carrier Ethernet To Connect To The Cloud

Connecting To The Cloud

Determining the Best Cloud Connectivity Solution

With the Cloud only being as good as employees’ ability to effectively access it, the overall user experience depends highly on enterprise network connectivity. Today, the Internet is the predominant method to connect to Cloud applications services. Internet connectivity is readily available in all markets. The challenge is that larger enterprises are hesitant to move mission-critical applications to the Cloud when delivered via the Internet due to concerns with security, network performance, data governance and regulatory compliance.

Internet Challenges

shutterstock_269385017

To date, many companies have used the public Internet as their principal method of connecting to and consuming Cloud application services. While Internet connectivity is well-suited for Web research, email and accessing shared business Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, the Internet is a shared network resource that does not have the performance required for more complex Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) computing, storage and business-critical applications such as Open Source Software (OSS) and SAP used by large, distributed workforces. Moreover, the public Internet cannot be used for connecting to the Cloud by organizations requiring a more secure connectivity solution to comply with certain regulatory guidelines, such as healthcare or financial verticals require.

As Cloud computing proliferates and both connectivity as well as applications grow in complexity and requirements, the industry is seeing a fundamental shift in how enterprises connect to and consume the Cloud. To address some of these early concerns, a more reliable, higher performance connectivity solution is needed to continue the exponential increase of Cloud adoption.

Carrier Ethernet for Cloud Connectivity

shutterstock_173451446 (1)

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Ethernet Private Line (EPL) has become the connectivity technology of choice for enterprises to directly connect to a Private or Public Cloud service provider at a data center. With its unique service attributes, Carrier Ethernet also supports virtual connectivity to multiple Cloud services. Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) services enable an enterprise to leverage existing connectivity for multiple services.

Overall, Carrier Ethernet is well-suited to make Cloud connectivity simple with:

  • Secure Connections – Connecting to the Cloud via a dedicated, private Ethernet connection ensures increased security, performance and scalability over the shared resources and unpredictability of the public Internet, whether choosing an EPL with a dedicated port or an EVPL service with assigned Quality of Service (QoS) by service type.
  • Predictable QoS – Designed for both business traffic traversing corporate networks as well as data being sent over supplier networks, Carrier Ethernet delivers end-to-end QoS, flexible bandwidth and desired levels of performance due to its ability to prioritize applications, users, or data / traffic flows. The technology supports multiple classes of traffic, including VoIP, videoconferencing, client / server, streaming video, email, FTTP and HTTP, and minimizes latency, jitter, delays and packet loss to ensure more predictable performance.
  • Normalized Last-Mile Delivery – Last-mile connections account for 82 percent of all downtime-related activity, 68 percent of overall network cost and 99 percent of complexity found in the network market today. Carrier Ethernet provides scalable bandwidth and flexibility in the number of technologies that can be leveraged to deliver standardized EPL and EVPL services. A network marketplace aggregates the broadest range of these Ethernet Services to enable the right connectivity to each location.
  • Consistent Implementation Across the Globe – The standardization of Carrier Ethernet led by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) ensures that users can expect the same attributes, management support and service levels globally. This consistency enables simpler, more efficient Cloud connectivity for enterprises with locations all over the world.
  • Ability to Add New Services – Today, large enterprises rarely use just one Cloud service. In fact, different organizations within global enterprise can use multiple different Cloud software, platforms or infrastructure. Enterprises can leverage EVPL to spin up dedicated, secure and QoS-based connectivity to multiple Cloud services over one reliable shared Ethernet circuit. This saves them the cost of additional Ethernet connections on their equipment.
  • End-to-End Performance – Carrier Ethernet also enables enterprises to gain end-to-end visibility into the performance of these services. The traditional best-effort delivery model is not adequate for Cloud service connectivity. As network traffic increases, congestion and inappropriate data prioritization become issues that can seriously affect traffic flows and delivery. Service providers must guarantee, monitor and manage predetermined quality of service, regardless of traffic levels. Carrier Ethernet services that ensure service level agreements are met under normal and congested conditions require end-to-end visibility across technologies and networks. Network Interface Devices (NIDS) offer visibility into service performance along with improved test and turn-up.
  • Simple Network Design, Pricing, Ordering and Management – By leveraging a marketplace of networks, an efficient and cost-effective platform highlighted in the article: “A Marketplace of Networks: Simplifying Enterprise Cloud Connectivity”, enterprises can connect their entire Cloud ecosystem – from network design to pricing, ordering, service delivery and ongoing management – with one platform, simplifying the service lifecycle.
  • Connectivity to High-Demand Destinations – Network marketplaces have pre-established External Network-to-Network Interfaces (ENNIs) and peering points to Cloud service providers, the Internet and other application service providers leveraging virtual cross-connects over Ethernet to quickly provision and turn-up new services. By creating aggregated connectivity to the Cloud, enterprise customers can directly connect their Cloud services into their Wide Area Network (WAN) environments.

With this in mind, it is clear that Carrier Ethernet is critical to meet the requirements for delivering external Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud services. In subsequent installments of our monthly Cloud connectivity CloudTweaks articles, we’ll further explore the challenges of connecting to Private, Public and multiple Clouds. We will also examine how EVPL provides secure, reliable connectivity to business applications found in multiple Clouds, enabled through the same secure, direct Ethernet connection being leveraged for other enterprise services.

By Mary Stanhope

Managed Services Providers (MSPs) – Urged To Embrace The Cloud

Managed Services Providers (MSPs) – Urged To Embrace The Cloud

Managed Services Providers (MSPs) 

If you’ve been observant of the MSP industry over the last two years, you’ve no doubt noticed that it has had significant difficulty expanding its service capabilities and growing its revenue stream around cloud computing. At least that was the analysis of recent market research studies assessing the status of cloud computing within service provider businesses. Service Leadership Inc. — who’s website ticker displays the most recent four quarters of financial performance and headcount for Solution Providers — reports that the cloud, on average over the last year, accounted for only 6.6% of solution provider revenue. Furthermore, according to TechTarget’s John Moore, Autotask which last month released the results of its annual MSP market study, found that 62% of its 1,800 survey respondents generated 30% or less of their revenue from cloud services and 42% said they generated less than 15 percent of their sales from the cloud. Lastly, a 2014 study of Keseya’s MSP State of the Union found that only 18% of “world-class” MSPs were offering cloud services as part of their product portfolio.

services-cloud

So what’s causing this barrier to revenue growth and what’s preventing MSPs from taking advantage of the over 12,000 cloud services (unofficial count) available to businesses and consumers? Does the answer lie with MSP mergers and acquisitions, that is, why find the client when we can buy them?

So, I’ve been thinking about this for some time. Then I recently networked with a CEO of a mid-sized MSP and after listening to him, I understood the fundamental problems that MSPs face and also realized that they may never be able to “rise to the occasion.”

As he described – a few years ago, the dilemma surrounding the cloud was a relatively easy one to address for MSPs, especially when their clients were asking questions about what is cloud computing and how could it ultimately benefit them. That was then, but now most businesses are serious about adopting the technology, and they are driving to make it happen. The following are several impediments and challenges that are preventing MSPs from generating significant revenue and successfully fulfilling their client’s and prospects demands for cloud services.

If you look like an MSP, and sound like an MSP – you are an MSP!

Building a private cloud is not the path to success. I do find it fascinating how many MSPs “convince” themselves that, by building a self-hosted virtualized infrastructure, they can call themselves a cloud services provider (CSP). And by the way, a private cloud is no more than a self-hosted virtualized infrastructure. Under the cloud model, the value proposition is about delivering high-quality service and agility, not just a hosted environment – so uptime, availability, disaster recovery, and security are critical. Further, cloud services should have modular service-oriented architectures which incorporate billing and management capabilities. Lastly, the cloud model dictates that the provider’s website / portal is no longer just the place where you get product and company information. It must be piece of the product and the start of a dynamic customer experience. You show me a MSP that does all the above, and I’ll show you a CSP.

I find your lack of focus disturbing!

lack-of-focus

MSPs are seeing the same problems that enterprise IT departments face when implementing cloud services – lack of focus on skills geared for business than technology, lack of financial modeling focus (CAPEX vs OPEX), lack of focus on development and business processes. The reason the large public clouds (and the companies that provide services to manage them) have grown so quickly is that they are primarily focused on helping make developers and business process more agile and automated. Conversely, MSPs are still only focused on deploying VMs or host commercial applications (Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, etc.), thus primarily concentrated on helping IT do their job in a more automated and consistent way rather than center on better business and development practices.

It’s about the strategy, stupid!

Like with political campaigns, it’s all too easy to concentrate on what you think your constituent’s biggest concern is. Typically, the first thing every managed service providers believes will solve their clients’ needs entails IT infrastructure. As a result, MSPs that go with this route usually forego partnering with any cloud provider and instead build a private cloud or hosted application solution. This scenario may seem unnecessarily basic, but it’s true that many MSPs simply don’t have the vision in place on how to deliver cloud computing to the client. Businesses require a partner that will assist them to generate additional revenue. They are not only looking for help to use technology more efficiently, but also more strategically. Businesses need support to make their processes more agile so they can keep up with the pace of change in today’s business environment. But unfortunately, as my CEO friend said, MSPs are not incentivized to identify the right type of cloud approach or service that works best for their clients.

Rather, it’s about: Margin Margin Margin!

And just like Marcia in the Brady Bunch, so too does margin get all the attention with MSPs. Fueled by cloud solutions, businesses are quickly moving beyond the traditional approach to managed service pricing. However, many MSPs still remain fixated on overhead, legacy pricing, and margin rather than a customer-oriented value model. And again, MSPs usually forego partnering with any cloud providers and instead build “homegrown” private cloud solutions. They develop a false notion that using this strategy will allow the MSP to retain absolute control over every aspect of the solution. However, the downside is typically financial in nature — building and maintaining a cloud is a major investment, and it will take a long time or never to see a return on that investment.

Clearly, the overall global business model towards technology is quickly evolving, and MSPs are falling behind. MSP consolidation may help in the short term, but business acquisition is not a sustainable model in this vertical. MSPs need to move toward being valued by customers for their technology “business” advice as opposed to lifecycle management and support. And unfortunately, it’s my opinion, that this is too big a chasm for the majority of them to cross.

However, although I feel the future looks bleak for MSPs, Nature does abhor a vacuum. Stay tuned next month, when I discuss the IT business paradigm that can build on and surpass the MSP model while becoming integral business partners with their clients.

By Anthony Pagano

Top Trending Mobile Resources – Mobile Apps For Business

Top Trending Mobile Resources – Mobile Apps For Business

Mobile Apps for Business

Expensify’s founder and CEO, David Barrett, testified this week at a Small Business Committee hearing about how app technology is benefitting small businesses, stating that congress is well-positioned to help small companies build products that benefit small businesses by targeting reforms to patent, internet tax collection, immigration, and crowdfunding. As mentioned by Barrett, small businesses are able to profit from smartphone technology growth and the associated mobile apps thanks to their rapid adoption of new technology.

Investing In Mobile App Development

Apps-Top

Today, many customers expect businesses to have their own mobile app, and those without them are considered to be trailing their competitors. Along with brand credibility, having your own mobile app provides direct access to your customers with statistics showing that nearly two-thirds of American adults own smartphones. Mobile applications deliver access to real-time marketing in any environment and give businesses the resources they need to provide top notch service and sales support to their customers. Aside from the resources these applications deliver to businesses, mobile apps also increase customer engagement with your brand and raise interest through easy-to-use, anytime access. Businesses are now able to tap into a much larger market, and provide convenient access to their products and solutions as suits customers, though at incredibly low costs. Finally, the data available to businesses through correct mobile application development and usage is invaluable, and effective apps are providing businesses with as much information as the consumers they target.

Mobile Apps For Business

mobile-apps-business

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Expensify

This expense tracking app allows you to photograph receipts and then stores them in the cloud in expense categories. Integration with QuickBooks, Xero, and credit card accounts makes this mobile application a practical and convenient business tool.

Evernote

Use your smartphone or tablet as a virtual notebook to save photos and documents, record dictation, and write up notes as necessary. With cloud storage, you don’t have to worry about losing any important information, and it’s retrievable from just about anywhere.

DocuSign

No matter where you are, DocuSign ensures you can sign vital documents when necessary. Should you be away from the office, a link is emailed to you, giving you access to the relevant documents and the ability to sign.

Square

Accepting payment is simplified with Square. With an Android and iOS app available, a dongle can be used to swipe debit and credit cards. Additionally, tips can easily be included, and invoices can be created and sent through the app.

What To Watch Out For

As with every potential service, there is also the potential for fraud. Thousands of apps in Apple, Windows Phone, and Android app stores have been found to be running sophisticated and potentially harmful advertising fraud. Forensiq claims to have discovered ad fraud termed “mobile device hijacking” which is legitimate-appearing software that runs in the background servicing hundreds of ads at up to 20 ads per minute. The cost to advertisers is severe, and businesses creating and using mobile apps must ensure their own and their consumers’ protection. Top Trending Mobile Resources for Summer 2015 is available for free to all those wishing to develop and use mobile applications to their advantage.

By Jennifer Klostermann

5 Tips For Getting Millennials Onboard Your SaaS

5 Tips For Getting Millennials Onboard Your SaaS

Getting Millennials Onboard Your SaaS

Why are Millennials the key demographic that SaaS companies should focus on? For one, they are quickly making up a larger share of your total user base. However, it is more than just a shift towards a younger generation; it is a shift in ideology. Millennials approach information much differently compared to Boomers. According to a research conducted by Forbes (2013), 74% of non-Millennials stated that Millennials offer different skills and add inherent value to workplaces. A big reason for this is that they grew up with personal computers, Internet, and are generally more receptive to multi-tasking and rapid absorption of information.

Courtesy of: IntelliResponse

Therefore, in order to be successful as a SaaS company, software must be developed with Millennials in mind.

Here are 5 tips for increasing SaaS adoption for Millennials.

1 – Know Where You’re Going – Set End Goals

During the early stages of training, it is vital to have self-contained, easily understood objectives for the end user. Getting off on the right foot will make the overall adoption process much smoother. More specifically, the design should appeal to Millennials and their inherent qualities.

Since your end users will typically be more tech-savvy and connected, you should ensure that your software offers a similar experience that they are used to. This means a stronger emphasis on clean UI, optimized media, mobile connectivity, upfront and easy-to-find objectives, and a knowledge base with a wide breadth.

2 – Know How You’re Doing – Monitor Performance

Perfect SaaS onboarding strategies cannot be made inside a vacuum. They take a careful blend of observation, and re-evaluation. Likewise, improving adoption of SaaS follows these same methods. You should monitor user performance during and after training. This allows training managers to provide more nuanced support whenever issues arise. Monitoring software can include databases, and integrated tests.

Once initial training ends, you should evaluate whether or not the original training objectives were met. This clues you into what was successful in the training program, and what could use some polishing. Also, feedback from the end user is important to get a gauge on how well the training program was received. Ideally, this monitoring and re-evaluation feedback loop should occur at regular intervals in order to improve training methods efficiently.

3 – Go Digital – Offer Online, Real-Time Help with Problems

Instead of offering paper worksheets and static instructions as a part of training, look towards more dynamic, real-time training methods. This can include automated walkthroughs, context sensitive tutorials, and other collaborative multimedia functions. These methods do not have to be strictly web-based either, since there are resources like online flowcharts that are simply digital analogues of paper versions. Real-time mentoring can be beneficial along with other online methods. The main factor to consider is that training materials are adaptive and easy to absorb.

Another benefit of dynamic approaches is that they are more convenient to update as information becomes outdated. This makes it cost-effective and aligns closer with Millennial expectations of adaptive material. Millennials can be described like sponges, soaking up information, coaching and tips.

4 – Bridge the Gap – Implement Cutting-Edge Tools

cutting-edge

Staying on the cutting edge of technology has several benefits for Millennials. New toolkits help provide support for advanced users and can help in providing better real-time support, or monitoring user improvement as mentioned in the previous tips. Not only do these tools tend to offer better cost-to-performance ratios, they are also more appealing for Millennials from a technological perspective.

Neuro-linguistic artificial intelligence functionality such as Apple’s Siri are quickly becoming popular options among these tools. While they aren’t perfect solutions, they help bridge the gap between tech-savvy Millennials and older generations of your workforce. Context sensitive assistance tools like WalkMe are another option for bolstering your training suite – they teach your users how to use applications, like CRMs, through step-by-step guidance balloons that leads a user through the site.

5 – Don’t Stop! –Offer Continuous Training

The key to great training programs is that they aren’t simply complete after the initial training period ends. Long-term training keeps users sharp and adaptive as new tools, technologies and market forces change. It reinforces what was learned, instead of placing it in the backburner, and it reduces the amount of initial training stress.

Applying and sticking to the right training methods and technologies are essential if you plan on attracting Millennials into your user base.

By Boaz Amidor

CloudTweaks Comics
Why Cloud Compliance Doesn’t Need To Be So Overly Complicated

Why Cloud Compliance Doesn’t Need To Be So Overly Complicated

Cloud Compliance  Regulatory compliance is an issue that has not only weighed heavily on the minds of executives, security and audit teams, but also today, even end users. Public cloud adds more complexity when varying degrees of infrastructure (depending on the cloud model) and data fall out of the hands of the company and into…

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us to Do Better The cloud has made our working lives easier, with everything from virtually unlimited email storage to access-from-anywhere enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It’s no wonder the 2013 cloud computing research IDG survey revealed at least 84 percent of the companies surveyed run at least one cloud-based application.…

5 Considerations You Need To Review Before Investing In Data Analytics

5 Considerations You Need To Review Before Investing In Data Analytics

Review Before Investing In Data Analytics Big data, when handled properly, can lead to big change. Companies in a wide variety of industries are partnering with data analytics companies to increase operational efficiency and make evidence-based business decisions. From Kraft Foods using business intelligence (BI) to cut customer satisfaction analysis time in half, to a…

Big Data – Top Critical Technology Trend For The Next Five Years

Big Data – Top Critical Technology Trend For The Next Five Years

Big Data Future Today’s organizations should become more collaborative, virtual, adaptive, and agile in order to be successful in complex business world. They should be able to respond to changes and market needs. Many organizations found that the valuable data they possess and how they use it can make them different than others. In fact,…

New Report Finds 1 Out Of 3 Sites Are Vulnerable To Malware

New Report Finds 1 Out Of 3 Sites Are Vulnerable To Malware

1 Out Of 3 Sites Are Vulnerable To Malware A new report published this morning by Menlo Security has alarmingly suggested that at least a third of the top 1,000,000 websites in the world are at risk of being infected by malware. While it’s worth prefacing the findings with the fact Menlo used Alexa to…

Teach Yourself The Cloud: Cloud Computing Knowledge In 5 Easy Steps

Teach Yourself The Cloud: Cloud Computing Knowledge In 5 Easy Steps

Teach Yourself The Cloud Learn how to get to grips with cloud computing in business  Struggling to get your head around the Cloud? Here are five easy ways you can improve your cloud knowledge and perhaps even introduce cloud systems into your business.  Any new technology can appear daunting, and cloud computing is no exception.…

The Future Of Cybersecurity

The Future Of Cybersecurity

The Future of Cybersecurity In 2013, President Obama issued an Executive Order to protect critical infrastructure by establishing baseline security standards. One year later, the government announced the cybersecurity framework, a voluntary how-to guide to strengthen cybersecurity and meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to approve the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), moving it one…

Five Cloud Questions Every CIO Needs To Know How To Answer

Five Cloud Questions Every CIO Needs To Know How To Answer

The Hot Seat Five cloud questions every CIO needs to know how to answer The cloud is a powerful thing, but here in the CloudTweaks community, we already know that. The challenge we have is validating the value it brings to today’s enterprise. Below, let’s review five questions we need to be ready to address…

Disaster Recovery And The Cloud

Disaster Recovery And The Cloud

Disaster Recovery And The Cloud One of the least considered benefits of cloud computing in the average small or mid-sized business manager’s mind is the aspect of disaster recovery. Part of the reason for this is that so few small and mid-size businesses have ever contemplated the impact of a major disaster on their IT…

Cloud Computing Price War Rages On

Cloud Computing Price War Rages On

Cloud Computing Price War There’s little question that the business world is a competitive place, but probably no area in business truly defines cutthroat quite like cloud computing. At the moment, we are witnessing a heated price war pitting some of the top cloud providers against each other, all in a big way to attract…

The CloudTweaks Archive - Posted by
Do Not Rely On Passwords To Protect Your Online Information

Do Not Rely On Passwords To Protect Your Online Information

Password Challenges  Simple passwords are no longer safe to use online. John Barco, vice president of Global Product Marketing at ForgeRock, explains why it’s time the industry embraced more advanced identity-centric solutions that improve the customer experience while also providing stronger security. Since the beginning of logins, consumers have used a simple username and password to…

Staying on Top of Your Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security Responsibilities

Staying on Top of Your Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security Responsibilities

Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security It’s no secret many organizations rely on popular cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft for access to computing infrastructure. The many perks of cloud services, such as the ability to quickly scale resources without the upfront cost of buying physical servers, have helped build a multibillion-dollar cloud industry that continues to grow each…

Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

ERP Deployment You know how ERP deployment can improve processes within your supply chain, and the things to keep in mind when implementing an ERP system. But do you know if cloud-based or on-premise ERP deployment is better for your company or industry? While cloud computing is becoming more and more popular, it is worth…

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

Governance, Risk and Compliance Businesses are under pressure to deliver against a backdrop of evolving regulations and security threats. In the face of such challenges they strive to perform better, be leaner, cut costs and be more efficient. Effective governance, risk and compliance (GRC) can help preserve the business’ corporate integrity and protect the brand,…

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

How to Identify and Authenticate in the Expanding IoT Ecosystem It is a necessity to protect IoT devices and their associated data. As the IoT ecosystem continues to expand, the need to create an identity to newly-connected things is becoming increasingly crucial. These ‘things’ can include anything from basic sensors and gateways to industrial controls…

Cost of the Cloud: Is It Really Worth It?

Cost of the Cloud: Is It Really Worth It?

Cost of the Cloud Cloud computing is more than just another storage tier. Imagine if you’re able to scale up 10x just to handle seasonal volumes or rely on a true disaster-recovery solution without upfront capital. Although the pay-as-you-go pricing model of cloud computing makes it a noticeable expense, it’s the only solution for many…

Moving Your Email To The Cloud? Beware Of Unintentional Data Spoliation!

Moving Your Email To The Cloud? Beware Of Unintentional Data Spoliation!

Cloud Email Migration In today’s litigious society, preserving your company’s data is a must if you (and your legal team) want to avoid hefty fines for data spoliation. But what about when you move to the cloud? Of course, you’ve probably thought of this already. You’ll have a migration strategy in place and you’ll carefully…

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

The True Meaning of Availability What is real availability? In our line of work, cloud service providers approach availability from the inside out. And in many cases, some never make it past their own front door given how challenging it is to keep the lights on at home let alone factors that are out of…

Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

Five Requirements for Supporting a Connected Workforce It used to be that enterprises dictated how workers spent their day: stuck in a cubicle, tied to an enterprise-mandated computer, an enterprise-mandated desk phone with mysterious buttons, and perhaps an enterprise-mandated mobile phone if they traveled. All that is history. Today, a modern workforce is dictating how…