Browsing Category: "Software"

Five Apps You Don’t Want to Miss: Auctioneer, Mapkin, Leo Privacy Guard, and More

July 29th, 2020 | Posted in Software

What to do this weekend is already settled, so all you need is some companion apps that will help you have fun. Here are apps for this weekend to give you spoken directions, preserve the privacy of your photos, learn some guitar lessons, or more.

Mapkin

Which mapping app do you launch when, let’s say, you’re heading off to a party? With Google Street view you can check what the place looks like, and Maps will help you get there. That’s fine, but a recently released app, Mapkin, is worth your attention: It is the first GPS with crowdsourced voice guidance, which gets you smarter directions. Oh, and if you join, you can help others by sharing tips about landmarks, tricky turns, and more… Mapkin is available for free on the App Store.

Leo Privacy Guard

Okay, so you arrive at the party and you start taking pictures. With Leo Privacy Guard, you can take snapshots and save them in your private album. The Guard widget will help you quick-launch the private camera feature with a single tap. But the app does so much more: It monitors the device, understands your privacy level, and provides a safe box where you can store your personal info. Check out Leo Privacy Guard (free) on the App Store / Google Play.

Fact Mountain: US Presidents

Imagine that you are in a discussion about US presidents and missing some info. No problem, you can always look it up on the Web, but you know “there is an app for that”, and it’s called Fact Mountain: US Presidents. The good thing about this is that it makes studying fun. The app costs $3.99, and you can download it from the App Store.

Rock Like the Pros

Sticking with the educational theme, here’s another app you may want to check out: Rock Like the Pros – Music Guitar Lessons. You can improve your guitar skills with this simple app. It’s free, and if you don’t want to spend money, just follow the “free lessons” tab. It’s limited but may be enough for you. Otherwise, it will ask you to subscribe, and that costs $4.99/month, but you can cancel anytime. Download Rock Like the Pros – Music Guitar Lessons from the App Store / Google Play.

Auctioneer

Form the makers of Kosmo, Touchdown Here, and Must Deliver, Cherrypick Games, here is a recently launched game you’ll love to play: Auctioneer. As you may already have guessed, the game was developed using the company’s signature pixel art design and takes you to an auction. The catch is the game gives you only seconds to find the highest bid. Download Auctioneer (free) from the App Store.

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Trello Marks 10 Millionth User, Launches Business Class

July 27th, 2020 | Posted in Software

Project management platform Trello hit a huge milestone recently when it logged its 10 millionth user. This milestone came at the same time as the launch of their Business Class, a new tool for teams.

Business Class offers all new product and backend features, including tools to surface activity and important info, key integrations with services including Salesforce, Github, Google Drive, and Slack. These features should make it easier for teams to use Trello to collaborate and more effectively manage projects and priorities.

Trello was founded in 2011 by Michael Pryor (no relation…that I’m aware) and Joel Spolsky.  It offers a visual, flexible, and collaborative way to manage projects and stay organized. They currently count teams from Conde Nast, Lonely Planet, Instacart, and Expedia among their clients.

“Instacart has a lot of moving parts, and the entire company relies heavily on Trello to share ideas, track issues in product, and collaborate across teams,” said Max Mullen, co-founder of Instacart, in a statement.  “We’ve used Trello since founding the company, and our use of the product has evolved as the company has grown, which is one of the main reasons we’re such big fans.”

Business Class maximizes the benefits for teams with enhanced control, and insight into team activity across all boards. New features include:

  • Board collections: All new user interface for Business Class aggregates and highlights boards, allowing users to filter based on number of members, categories, and most starred.
  • Integrations (Power-Ups): Trello now plugs into the broader enterprise ecosystem with a platform that streamlines the workflow between essential services including Slack, Box, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Dropbox, Twitter, Evernote, Salesforce, Github, Mailchimp, Help Scout, and appear.in.
  • Priority support: Priority response times from Trello’s support team.

“There’s no substitute for the sense of clarity and control you get when you see a big, intimidating project broken down into individual, achievable goals,” said Michael Pryor, CEO of Trello in a statement.  “We’ve built the new Business Class based on the specific needs of teams who are rapidly adopting Trello as a central tool for their daily workflows.”

A video highlighting the new Business Class features can be found here.

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The Hardest Lesson B2B Software Product Managers Learn

July 25th, 2020 | Posted in Software

As a B2B software product manager, you spend your day responding to internal and external requests for help. In between these requests you find time to manage requirements, roadmaps, and customer intelligence all before you invest the necessary time politicking for your team.

Since we all know success rests heavily on learning new things, innovating new ideas, and competing better to achieve more with the same resources, this scenario is a dangerous one because in all this flurry of activity, there’s simply no opportunity to learn.

When I ask product managers what they’re learning, I often get one of two responses: a dry-winded summary of a book they read a few months ago or verbal diarrhea of the 99 things they learned since lunch.

Here’s the truth: in an average day, you’re learning a lot about making today’s business more efficient. But when I ask these B2B managers to think about what they are learning that challenges their assumptions about the company and its opportunities, the response is almost always awkward silence.

Looking for Disruptive Opportunities in the Fringe

Learning how to achieve goals slightly more efficiently every year is an important priority for many companies, and companies that evaluate internal processes may discover small ways to improve the existing business or make slightly more money. However, far bigger wins can come from shifting your thinking from incremental growth to big-picture innovation.

These fringe ideas and customers usually sit on the edge of your typical thought processes and therefore go unnoticed until it’s too late. And when you combine this efficiency-focused attitude with the fact that companies seldom learn new, earth-shattering ideas from their current market, it becomes clear that most companies have built up a wall of incremental progress that lets no innovative idea survive.

When senior leaders over-invest in building efficiency because over time, it narrows a company’s field of vision. This makes you fragile because your systems, processes, and culture outweigh the importance of efficiency, resulting in difficulty to implement change (such as when IBM, SAP, and Oracle moved into the cloud). This also makes you slow to respond because you’re often playing catch up with companies that embraced the fringe much sooner (such as Nokia’s response to smart phones and Microsoft’s response to search engines).

It’s this dangerous company culture that threatens the future of your company’s ability to compete, and it’s the opposite strategy — similar to BCG’s tagline, “Strategy happens at the fringe” — that will free your business up for unlimited opportunity.

Finding Your Company’s Fringe Market

Every company has at least two fringe markets that they can tap into to unveil innovative ideas and white space opportunities. Simply identify your primary market and look a step below it to see what tangential audience is not being served by the processes and ideas you already have in place.

For example, almost 100 million customers shop at WalMart at a monthly frequency. Its fringe market, then, are the 100 million occasional shoppers who shop at a yearly frequency. Another example is Workday. It’s strong in healthcare, but it stands on the edge of a huge fringe opportunity in hospital functions such as asset management that it doesn’t currently offer. It could also grow from near verticals such as long-term facilities.

Creating a Fringe Strategy

Should you redirect your entire service from the served market to the fringe market? Definitely not. It’s all about balancing today’s risk while lining up new opportunities for the future. The most strategic, forward looking product VPs I know spend about 80 percent of their time focused on today’s customers and 20 percent of their time focused on the fringe. Junior product managers should spend 95 percent of their time on today’s business, leaving about 5 percent of their time to explore the fringe.

The tyranny of the served market and the opportunity of the fringe are at odds with each other. Focus too much time on increasing efficiency in today’s processes, the future will pass you by. However, too much learning from the fringe and you won’t have the profits (or customers) to propel you to the future. As a senior B2B leader, you are obligated to balance what you learn between what serves your customers now and what will serve them in the future to best organize your time today.

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How is Technology Taking Over a Bookkeeper’s Job?

June 25th, 2020 | Posted in Software, Uncategorized

There are certainly some businesses which couldn’t help but be conservative when it comes to accounting and bookkeeping services, which is sad to say, leaving them in the Jurassic era. Business owners should never be intimidated with advances in accounting technology. No matter how many years your business stood using traditional methods, it’s about time you consider and embrace that big technological change for better productivity and profit.

Intelligent Data Entry

Yes, the human mind is responsible for developing technology. However, we’re only humans and we’re not as perfect as these online tools were programmed to be. Online accounting tools such as Quickbooks has the capabilities of downloading bank transactions directly, organising payrolls, and providing tax reports with just one click. Shoeboxed can organise and archive receipts with great ease. Xero can do automatic bank reconciliation and has the feature of online invoicing so you can collect payments from your customers and get paid faster. The main point is that these tools make calculations easier and keep everything in one place, saving you time, energy, and money. All information is accessible 24/7, yet highly reliable for confidentiality.

Businesses Should Keep Up with the Times

During this time of rapid technological evolution, people want products and services FAST. Time is of the essence to everyone, so whoever can provide clients with quality goods and services in the least amount of time, wins. How can you provide for your clients when you spend too much time on manual accounting? The competition is growing every day and your business needs to keep up, gradually at least, or else you’ll lose your clients to your competitors which possibly leads to a slow death of your business.

The Bookkeeper’s New Role

The technological advances in the accounting world would not necessarily mean the elimination of a bookkeeper. The bookkeeper’s job now is not limited to clerical data entry; because they are familiar with the financial data flow of your business, they can now assist you in interpreting the real VALUE from your financial information and how it affects your business. You can now make sound decisions on how to move forward with your business or what expenses to trim.

Benefits for the Business

Overall, there are so many great advantages of utilising technology for accounting. The paperless method takes out the hassle of mailing and sorting. All documents are neatly organised and shared in one space. Data entry is way easier and there’s less probability for miscalculations. And you can even save more time as the tools can help you calculate taxes, payrolls, and other aspects of your business with just a few clicks. How great is that!

Your bookkeeper, however, is still the greatest ‘tool’ that you have. They are trained not just to do clerical entries, but also to track the flow of finances, analyse, and interpret all your financial information. They can help you make sound decisions and help you plan your business move. By succumbing to the advances of accounting technology, you are now able to free up more time to spend on generating more customers and making your business grow.

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Putting the Cart Before the Smart: 4 Ways to Bend Technology to Your Favor

May 9th, 2020 | Posted in Software, Uncategorized

The smart cart has been dumbed down.

More than a decade ago, retail pundits were practically breathless over the possibilities of magical smart carts that would transform the customer experience. In reality, they were putting the cart before the smart.

While the path of the American shopping cart has been a storied one, its most compelling chapters may just be arriving now, through beacon technology and on-demand home ordering. Still, with everyone holding their own little smart carts in their hands in the forms of smartphones, the key for retailers is not making the cart – or phone – smarter, but designing the technology they deploy with the shopper experience in mind.

Those experiential opportunities are increasingly plentiful. Nearly 70 percent of consumers use their mobile devices to find a brand or product before they go grocery shopping, while 86 percent use their devices to plan their shopping trips, according to research by NinthDecimal, a mobile intelligence consultant. Almost 60 percent of consumers use their phones while grocery shopping.

Still, while the possibilities are plentiful, they are not without limit, as a look into the fleeting opportunities of the grocery cart reveal.

A rolling history

The first grocery carts rolled into the aisles of Piggly Wiggly stores almost 80 years ago. In less than four years, entire supermarkets were being planned around them, with wider aisles and larger checkout counters to accommodate the increased amount of products people were buying. One could credit the shopping cart for 64-ounce detergent packages, and 16-roll toilet paper bundles.

Over the years, the basic design of the shopping cart has not much changed, though its technology – or technological potential – has. From tracers that showed grocers how we shopped to LCD screens that could map out the store and alert us to sales, the cart had been earmarked as a central device for improving the shopping trip. Consider this excerpt from a 2003 USA Today story:

“The smart shopping cart looks like a normal one except for an interactive screen and scanner mounted near the shopper. Once the shopper swipes his store card, his shopping history is available for all kinds of purposes, from presenting a suggested shopping list to alerting him to discounts or reminding him about perishables purchased a month ago.”

Sound familiar? It turns out that hitching the customer experience to the shopping cart is expensive. Instead we have smartphones doing much of that work for us, pretty affordably. They enable beacon technology that can identify a shopper in close range of a specific product, map out a store and deliver a host of other in-the-aisle features.

A central problem remains, however: Retailers have yet to enable the phones to deliver the kinds of relevant experiences that elevate the task of grocery shopping from featureless to fun.

New shopping list

Can a phone, regardless of its smarts, transform the task of selecting just-the-right banana bunch and bone-in chicken breasts into something one can look forward to? The resolution exists not in how much technology a shopper really needs to get the job done, but in what specific experiences the technology can deliver to make the job a pleasure.

At a time when grocers are competing with drug stores, gas stations, mass merchants, online merchants and even some department stores for the grocery dollar, technology alone will not give the supermarket an edge.

However, all the pieces are there to reshape the in-aisle encounter to an event that includes an element of happy surprise. It is up to grocery retailers to build the infrastructure and test what will bring this journey to fruition. My simple suggestions:

Learn how to connect: Let’s all assume we can bypass the smart cart and go straight for the smartphone. How will you use it to connect with the customer in a way that is personally relevant? Beacons are popular, but note that in-store promotions do not necessarily translate to a happy experience, especially if the shopper is in a hurry. Perhaps a greeting at the beginning of the trip that asks, “What brings you here today?” can be used to inform the rest of the trip communications.

Be brand true: A grocer’s personal shopper communications, whether by smartphone or cashier, should hinge on its brand promise, mission and why its shoppers choose that brand. Once this is determined, the company can build a platform so its specially appointed team can hear customers in real time and then craft appropriate experiences to reinforce the brand promise.

Pass it on: A customer message that sits with the marketing team is a message in a vacuum. By developing an in-house system for sharing what the customer says throughout the organization, it can discover unexpected potential in its marketing efforts, product placement and customer interests.

Deliver: As with any experience-enhancing endeavor, the company should ensure it has the budget to deliver on the initiative’s promise. It sounds simple, but sometimes customer reaction differs from what we might expect. A recent case in point involves British grocery chain Waitrose, which offered free coffee or tea to its myWaitrose loyalty members, and ended up getting hordes of free drinkers who bought no groceries ­– irritating lots of paying customers.

No cart, or phone, can outsmart that sort of oversight.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com, where Bryan serves as a retail contributor. You can view the original story here.

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