Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Release Management Authors: Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Carmen Gonzalez, Mark R. Hinkle

Blog Feed Post

How to Choose Business Software: The Top 5 Considerations

Are you looking for a new CRM for your business? How about something to manage your sales efforts, or track your projects, or handle your finances?

Searching the internet for “cloud based software” or “business CRMs” can be a daunting process; there are endless options, all with pretty websites, and all with big promises. What should you be looking for when picking a cloud solution for your business?

We have completed hundreds of software implementations, reviewed dozens of software systems, and have had our finger on the pulse of the industry for more than 5 years. These are our top 5 considerations for picking the right software for your business.

1. Security

A lot of systems promote “bank grade” security, but what does that mean? Generally, they are referring to the “SS-Enabled” nature of their web applications (with SS = Secure Socket); this is great as it adds an extra (and hard to crack) layer to the system’s security.

SSL is great, but it’s standard industry practice – the best software solutions go above and beyond that.

Does the software provide transparent information about their security, or just vague promises? Things to look for include hashed and encrypted passwords, data redundancy, IP access controls, robust permissions systems, and multi-step login authentication.

At the very least, do your homework and see how the company has handled security issues in the past, if any. Data security never matters until something happens to you – and in today’s world, it probably eventually will.

2. User Experience
Whether discussing social networks, video games, media sites, or business software, technology hacks like ourselves love user experience, ie the experience of using a product (iPhone = good. Clamshell packaging = bad).

Many business owners are attracted to management-driven software (see Salesforce and Netsuite). But before you’re drawn to a sales pitch that shows you nice bright graphs and category-based ROI, have an employee take the software for a spin. Software is only as effective as the people using it, so if the UI is a nightmare to figure out or use, then it’s likely not the best option for your business (and those reports won’t mean anything, because no one is using it).

3. Integrations/API
One of the main perks of cloud software is the ability to integrate your systems together using APIs (or, Application Programming Interfaces); basically, these are digital handshakes between systems, enabling your software to share data and information. This might mean viewing your customer service data alongside your sales data, or accessing your CRM from within your Google Apps mail account.

These type of integrations are only possible when the systems you use have open and accessible APIs. Do some research on the software and look into the integrations it offers. You don’t want to feel handcuffed by what you’ve implemented if the system’s API is lacking, or nonexistent.

Moreover, integrations aren’t all created equal. Make sure you read the documentation or find a Youtube video demonstrating how any given integration works – it might be a “lip service” integration, instead of something delivering true value.

4. The Vision
It’s important to take into account the software company’s future plans when deciding whether to onboard them for your business. In some instances the company’s founders just want to build a huge user base so they can sell the company to someone like Salesforce or Oracle. You, as the user, go from a SMB using SMB software, to a SMB using enterprise software; that’s no good.

It’s often times very difficult to judge or understand a company’s vision, though the amount and timing of their funding (if any), as well as the background of its founders are good places to start.

Are the founders engineers? Software industry guys? Or, are they entrepreneurs looking to flip their next company? Look for interviews, Techcrunch reviews, or blog posts that may hint at the company’s direction. You don’t want to be stranded a year after launch.

5. Features
It might sound obvious, but a solution’s feature-set should be a determining factor when you choose it for your business.

Just because something calls itself a CRM, for example, doesn’t mean it does the things you need it to. Take project management – most CRMs handle tasks very differently than a traditional project management tool. Whether or not that difference works for your business could be a make-or-break feature.

Moreover, solutions have different approaches to features. We’ve written previously on the Guerilla vs. Spider Web approaches – suffice to say, some software tries to do it all, while other software solutions specialize. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

———–

There are pros and cons with everything solution, and nothing is perfect. If you keep the above factors in mind when researching a new system, then you should be on the right track. And if you’re still confused? Send us a note, we’d love to help!

 

VM Associates is a New York City cloud computing consulting firm. We help companies transition into newer, better, smarter software. Contact us to talk about your business, the cloud, and how we might help.

The post How to Choose Business Software: The Top 5 Considerations appeared first on VM Associates.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participa...
The world is at a tipping point where the technology, the device and global adoption are converging to such a point that we will see an explosion of a world where smartphone devices not only allow us to talk to each other, but allow for communication between everything – serving as a central hub from which we control our world – MediaTek is at the heart of both driving this and allowing the markets to drive this reality forward themselves. The next wave of consumer gadgets is here – smart, connected, and small. If your ambitions are big, so are ours. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jack Hu, D...
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DragonGlass, an enterprise search platform, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. After eleven years of designing and building custom applications, OpenCrowd has launched DragonGlass, a cloud-based platform that enables the development of search-based applications. These are a new breed of applications that utilize a search index as their backbone for data retrieval. They can easily adapt to new data sets and provide access to both structured and unstruc...
We’re entering a new era of computing technology that many are calling the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine to machine, machine to infrastructure, machine to environment, the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Intelligent Things, intelligent systems – call it what you want, but it’s happening, and its potential is huge. IoT is comprised of smart machines interacting and communicating with other machines, objects, environments and infrastructures. As a result, huge volumes of data are being generated, and that data is being processed into useful actions that can “command and control” thi...
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists will peel away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud environment, and we must architect and code accordingly. At the very least, you'll have no problem fil...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.