The Most Commonly Used Smartphone Applications

Smartphones are being spotted in the hands of almost everybody who can afford it. There’s a plethora of brands that cater to almost all types of smartphone customers in the market.

Sensing that the popularity of smartphones would surge northwards in the coming years, software companies are introducing new applications at frequent intervals, not to mention the several ones that are already there in the market.

Here are some of the most popular smartphone applications.

The Weather Channel

Getting to know about the day’s weather, in earlier times, simply involved reading the newspaper. The Weather Channel software is now available to smartphone users who can check the weather and the forecasts for any place across the globe via a simple click on the button. The application offers text views and map views as well as a screen shot of the weekly weather forecast. Whether you are watching an amazing storm video which has been captured on film or have a fetish to know about the latest weather, The Weather Channel is gaining popularity with each passing day. It’s compatible with several popular smartphones and even some cheap smartphones as well.

Pandora

Pandora is an automatic genome music system which creates music recommendations based upon the personal listening preference of the listener. Besides playing music continuously, the software also inserts new music to the play-list, that’s likely to interest the listener. The application analyses the songs being heard by the listener and determines his genres and choices. It then matches its results with other songs or artists. The user is able to continually morph his selection of music either approving or disapproving the music selected by the software. The best part of Pandora is that the first 40 hours of listening, every month, is free. Following the expiry of the free limit, a listener can continue using the application by paying a small fee.

NeatCall

NeatCall is a fantastic application which can be used to organize your profession or career. Even small businessmen, starting off sans any substantial knowledge of the application, love it. The basic package of the application is currently available for free but one has to pay a monthly fee to download additional features and gadgets. With the simple click of a button, the application determines the best time slot for your conferences and meetings. It even follows up the event with appropriate attendees. There’s no more any need to make additional phone calls or send lengthy emails for confirming the scheduled appointment. In fact, the application not only determines the correct time for your calls and meeting, it also updates your calendar by inserting the necessary information. In the event you chance to look on the calendar, you’ll be instantly reminded of your appointment. NeatCall stores all the information in its server. It’s easy and can be installed on several smartphones, including cheap smartphones.

There are hundreds of useful smartphone applications that you can download and install on your handset. But before everything else, always install good anti-virus software and keep harmful viruses at bay.

4 Most Popular Blog Softwares, What Is For Your Company Website?

Have you started your own blog? For the past 4 years, blogs has increased in value knowing that it is not only use to share your personal experience but is even used to do business online. So for now, since there are lots of blog platforms available online, I simply want to share to you a 4 blog software’s which you can use to start a blog.

1.) WordPress – This is so far one of the most popular of them all. First is because it is the easiest blog to customize and you can get unlimited templates free. The second reason is that it provides useful plug-ins which they also give away for free.

Another advantage here is that you can create as many blogs as you can in a single account. Imagine, I have started 8 different niche blogs from a single user account that I have.

2.) Blogger – This is another blog platform I have used before especially when I first started blogging. Many say that it is not user friendly, but for me it is. You can easily customize your page by drag and drop functions. And just like wordpress, blogger allows you to create many blogs even if you have one user account.

The only thing I don’t like about blogger is that you can’t find quality themes that are free. If you would want to have a good template, you will need to cash out for an expensive “xhtml” theme layout.

3.) Tumblr – I am quite familiar with tumblr although I haven’t used it much. I guess the main advantage of this is that because of its simplicity, then you don’t need to look for an extraordinary theme. In short, you will not be pressured as to how it looks like, if it’s nice or not.

However, the only problem I see here is that I never saw any tumblr blog in search engines. I’m just not sure if it is not user friendly, or probably it’s not meant to be publicly displayed in searches. One more thing is that it does not provide specific url from every blog posts. Basically you only have a general blog domain.

4.) Typepad – This is also quite a popular blog platform since it is offered free. Actually, this is just like any other blogs however one aspect I don’t like about this is that you can’t personalize your blog posts link. Instead of having the “blog post title” as part of the url (blogname.typepad.com/blog post tile), it enlists numbers (blogname.typepad.com/12345678). So in the end, it will not be good if you would want to be in the top search engine rankings.

As conclusion, WordPress, Blogger, Typepad and Tumblr is good for basic blogging purposes like sharing and posting your ideas and thoughts online. However, in case, you wanted to blog for business, then I believe WordPressDotorg could be the best option. This is for the reason that wordpress.org allows you to integrate wordpress application to your existing website. So in case you have a website, then you won’t need to create another just to blog. You can start blogging through your website itself.

The main advantage when using it is that you can have a customized website theme which you can purchase online. Talking about business, I suggest that you buy your own theme knowing that you are creating a brand online so you should not have the same theme of other bloggers.

CRM Software – Comparing Microsoft Dynamics CRM To Salesforce

CRM Software solutions are an integral part of the sales, marketing and customer service of most organisations. Today, CRM Software dwells far further than these functions to manage all business requirements. This has been termed by the people at Microsoft as xRM – (x) anything Relationship Management. Choosing which solution is right for your company is not easy and often companies compare different CRM offerings. Two of the major CRM software applications on the market today are Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.

There was a time with these two CRM software applications the choice was more black and white. You either looked at software deployed in-house (Microsoft Dynamics CRM) v the software-as-a-service model (Salesforce).

Now that Microsoft has moved into the cloud with their software as a service model and Salesforce now has a development platform with its “Force” offering your options are now blurred.

Salesforce was founded in 1999 with a vision to create an on-demand information management service that would replace traditional enterprise software technology. Salesforce calls itself “the enterprise cloud-computing company”. Sales Cloud™ and Service Cloud™ are Salesforce’s applications for sales and customer service. Their approach to the cloud computing deployment model has led to them developing the force.com cloud platform that allows developers and users to build business applications on top of the Salesforce offering.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM, created by Microsoft product team with vast resources was designed with a long-term vision that will allow Customers to use CRM with multiple Microsoft products and choose deployment options to meet organisational needs.

IT researcher Springboard found Australian and New Zealand was already the most mature market for SaaS applications in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to BRW Magazine the market is tipped to grow 45% a year in Australia and New Zealand from $UA 1.7 billion in 2008 to $US7.7 billion by 2012. The magazine also referred to customer relationship management software as the most popular SaaS application (35 percent) and that “companies in Australia are using SaaS because it’s cheaper, rather than because it’s easier to use. Only 9 percent cited “ease of use” as the reason for choosing SaaS.

Choice and Flexibility

With a multitenant CRM solution, Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers any number of deployment options, depending on your needs. On-demand, on-premise, and partner-hosted models are available for Microsoft Dynamic CRM. If your deployment requirements change so too can your CRM software deployment options as each deployment option is built on the same modern architecture and data model. For example, you can take your configurations and data hosted by Microsoft and move to In-House or to a Microsoft Partner web based CRM software hosted model. Salesforce platform offers SaaS by the Cloud and you don’t own the software and configurations. If you want to change to an in-house solution you need to move to another CRM application. You need to factor the cost of getting your data out of Salesforce. Depending on the level of subscription you purchase for Salesforce there have been reports of your data being held hostage. This is, depending on your level of subscription you need to upgrade your subscription in order to export your data.

Cost

Salesforce claims to cost significantly less but Microsoft Dynamics CRM insists that the comparison is not for like services. A-la-carte pricing that is additional to potential price hikes at contract renewal time can significantly affect the total cost of Salesforce. When assessing comparable online products between the two opponents, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is available for less than 50% of the Salesforce fee. The latest pricing in the USA indicates that “Microsoft CRM [Online] runs $44-59 per user per month, compared to $125 for Salesforce” Professional Edition.

Entry price for Salesforce is cheaper but if you want more functionality you obviously have to pay more. With Microsoft CRM you have access to the complete system from the moment you first purchase. Your purchase decision should never be based on solely on price as its only one component in the decision making process. Those that buy first time around on price usually call back 6-24 months later asking for help. From personal experience decision makers who purchase solely on price first time around re-purchase the second time around on service. To compare in-house versus hosted pricing you need to calculate over a 3-5 year period and not just 1 year.

Ownership of Data

Salesforce, as a software-as-a-service provider, does not own the data collected by its customers. Instead, its data centres are outsourced to Equinix, a third party company in the USA and Singapore. With Microsoft CRM for in-house, and partner hosted options, customers have full control over the security and physical location of their data. You can swap and take your data between these options. Microsoft CRM Online hosted by Microsoft will be released in Australia late 2010 and the data will be hosted in Singapore. Again, you will have the ability to move from hosted to in-house but the online model will have some restrictions around customisation code. In order for Salesforce customers to get development platform capabilities they must buy the unlimited version.

Ease of Use

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is designed for easy user adoption because of its similarity and compatibility with Microsoft Office and Outlook. Simply put, it is designed to minimize the need for training, reduce application switching, and produce high productivity. With the launch of Microsoft CRM 5 or 2011 its release name), Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 the GUI (interface) between the three product suites becomes very similar in look and feel. This provides users with an easy to learn experience and greater chance of user uptake.

Salesforce graphical interface is modern and should be easy to use for most users. The integration to Microsoft Outlook and Office is reported as not as strong as Dynamics CRM especially for MS Excel and Outlook. Those using Google Mail will find Salesforce to their liking.

Both Salesforce and Dynamics CRM have similar modules including sales force automation, customer service and support, marketing automation, document management, contract management, product catalogue management and reports. Although each module for each product has its strengths and weaknesses side by side you need to evaluate each application module against your business requirements (and not user likeability).

Often an organisation short lists three CRM applications to be presented to its users. Evaluation should not be based heavily (if at all) on the users liking the look and feel of the graphical interface. The users of an organisation tend to agree on one CRM application as by nature we feel most comfortable with what we already know. If you ask a salesperson who has been using a paper diary for 30 years, what is better? A paper based or CRM system the answer is always paper! Over the years I have witnessed three different systems put in front of users at different organisations and there is never a clear winner for the CRM application chosen.

At present, Salesforce has a lot of easy to use business add-on products for its core offerings built on its force.com platform. Microsoft has a host of ISV Partners who have built add-on products to Microsoft CRM but it’s not as easy to find these add-on’s spread out across the globe on various websites. Microsoft has just launched PinPoint that allows you to search globally for Partner software solutions. Also, Microsoft CRM Dynamics Online does not provide the same access to write custom code in a sandbox because Microsoft did not want outside code in its own application, but with Microsoft Azure, ISVs can execute their own code.

Access to CRM and Email

Microsoft CRM is available either through a web browser, through a mobile device or through a plug-in to MS Outlook. Salesforce integrates with Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Google App’s. Salesforce will run on a mobile device, through a web browser and if you want some level of Email (Outlook, Lotus Notes, or Google App’s) integration, however you will still need to download and install a Salesforce connector.

Scope and Support

According to Wikipedia, Salesforce offers support for 16 languages, while Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers support for 25. Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s ecosystem includes 750,000 solutions partners; 2,200 users groups, and 400 community web sites globally. Standard support included in Salesforce’s subscription fee allows for a 2 business day response time. With Microsoft, support is dependent on the licensing module used to purchase the software and the support offered by a Microsoft CRM Partner. You can choose from ad-hoc through to dedicated support.

The Future and Investments

It has been reported in online publication The Inquirer.com that Microsoft will spend US$9.5 billion dollars in 2010 on research and development making it the largest R&D technology spender in the world.

In 2008, Salesforce spent $63.8 million, or 8% of its revenue, on research and development, much of which went towards expanding the Salesforce’s cloud computing abilities. In addition, 91% of salesforce’s revenue comes from subscription and support fees from their cloud computing services.

The CEO of Zoho, Sridhar Vembu first made this good point in April 2008 by noting the disparities in R&D and sales & marketing spending by Salesforce. Using the financial data from the last 12 months, Salesforce’s sales and marketing spending of $605 million was almost 5 times its R&D spending of $131 million. It has been reported in businessinsider.com that Google, R&D spending of $2.8 billion was almost 1.5 times that of its S&M expense of $2 billion.

There is no doubt Salesforce is a leader in the SaaS market. The question will be whether the heavy weights including Microsoft (with Azure and BPOS) and Google with its GoogleApps MarketPlace will be able to stay in the game as the heavy weights begin gaining heavy market share in the cloud.

SaaS versus In-House

A note on SaaS versus In-House deployment. “In 2009, within enterprise applications, SaaS represented 3.4 per cent of total enterprise spending, slightly up from 2008 at 2.8 per cent,” said David Cearley, vice president of Gartner. This market will reach $8.8 billion in 2010, according to the company’s forecasts.

From a market perspective, most of the spending for SaaS is occurring in the content, collaboration communication, and customer relationship management markets. Collectively, they represented 65 per cent of the global enterprise applications software market in 2009. Many of the bad practices that occurred in the on premises world are now moving their way into SaaS.

The biggest example is shelfware. “Shelfware-as-a-service is the concept of paying for a software subscription that is not being accessed by an end user,” said Cearley. “This most commonly occurs in large organisations, but it could happen to any company, especially those that have downsized their workforce, or one that has oversubscribed to trigger a volume discount.” “SaaS may not have delivered on its early grand promises – of the current SaaS deployments we estimate that a total of 90 per cent of SaaS deployments are not pay-per use – but it has reenergised the software market and added choice,” Cearley said.

First Steps in Choosing Your CRM Solution

Your first step in determining which solution is right for your company is to document your CRM requirements. Secondly, research to see what CRM applications are going to meet your requirements. Third, bring in a CRM consultancy firm and/or CRM Vendor to discuss your requirements and demonstrate their knowledge and application to you. Whether you go hosted or in-house should always come after you’ve gone through the above steps.