Saturday, July 31, 2010

Is Your Next Laptop a Smartphone?

The smartphone might not be one's first choice for spreadsheets and documents, but let's face it, everybody has one (in business, anyway, all over the world), and those that have one will buy a new one sometime in the next two years as cellular products and wireless technologies continue their rapid evolution. The level of capability in contemporary smartphones is remarkable and continues to grow.

Smartphones are as powerful as PCs from just a few years ago, with significantly better software, user interfaces, and flexibility. Smartphones won't replace the laptop for typical business users, but over the next few years, many people -- my guess is 12% to 15% of business users -- will be able to leave their laptop at the office and handle essentially all of their mobile computing and communications tasks with a pocket-sized device.

As you might guess, size here is both an advantage and a challenge. Smartphones need to be as small as possible for mobility while still maximizing the size of the keyboard and the display. The keyboard on a smartphone, be it physical or screen-based, is obviously never going to get bigger than is acceptable for the two-thumb typing technique, although I predict a surge in add-on Bluetooth and USB keyboards that can be quite effective for writing longer missives. The display is similarly constrained, although being able to connect (via wireless) to an external display with better resolution -- the TV in one's hotel room, for example -- should become quite popular in the future.

Networking, storage and processing aren't really issues anymore, as tiny devices can have lots of each, and a connection to the Internet addresses any concerns here in the same fashion as for computer users everywhere. A much bigger issue is battery life.

So, you might conclude at this point that there are really no showstoppers with respect to replacing a laptop computer of any form with a smartphone. But, should you conclude as such, you would be ignoring the effect of the culture surrounding the PC: From IT departments to enterprise users to just about every technology user on the planet, the PC is viewed as the mainstay of personal and corporate IT and thus a core requirement. But it is nevertheless very likely that we'll still be carrying both a notebook or Mobile Internet Device and a smartphone for some time -- well into the foreseeable future. I think that my 12% to 15% number above will grow over time, however, as Web services and cloud computing become the popular, if not dominant, model for enterprise IT.

For now the convenience of needing only one tiny device -- again, one that everyone needs to carry anyway -- is so compelling that more progress toward the single-device solution is certain. Personally, as one who lugs way too much technology around every week, I can't wait.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Three Steps to Create a Successful CRM Strategy

Building a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy is a unique process for each organization that nevertheless should always involve three key steps. The three steps needed to create a successful CRM strategy are: setting the destination; auditing the current situation; and mapping the journey to the destination.

"A CRM strategy cannot be developed in isolation. It must be relevant and linked to the overall corporate strategy, and it must build on existing sales or marketing strategies that are already in use. Following these three steps will provide a solid framework for CRM success.

Set the destination: The vision of the company and the goals derived from this vision are the intended destination of the CRM strategy. The vision will be heavily dependent on the leadership of the company and on the selected CRM strategy.

Ensure that the CRM vision is to articulate the future environment for the organization in terms of profitability and customer experience. During the initial stages of the CRM initiative — while the CRM vision and strategy are being developed — the leadership and governance structure must be agreed upon and roles allocated before it is stressed by the impact of change management upon employees.

Audit the current situation: Skills, resources, competitors, partners and customers all need to be consulted in assessing the starting point. Before beginning the CRM initiative, organizations need to identify how mature their existing approach to CRM is. Most organizations have some existing or past attempt at CRM; even if these were deemed failures, there are usually some foundations that can be leveraged rather than ignored by the new team.

Use the audit to evaluate the organization against equivalent organizations in the same or a similar industry. A competitive benchmark is an excellent way to gauge how far behind or ahead the organization is in comparison. Along with these two approaches, there are many other types of audit. Ultimately, companies should use as many of these assessment types as possible to prepare for the development of the CRM strategy.

Map the journey: The journey may take many years, and the map will change en route. It is important to plan for this before starting.

A CRM strategy explains how an organization will achieve the CRM vision. It is the integrated blueprint for how the organization will achieve its sales, marketing and customer service goals. Therefore, it must give quantitative answers to questions such as: What is the ideal customer base? What products or services is it going to sell, to whom, at what price and through which channels? However, it must also be able to give much more subjective answers to more-holistic, organization-wide questions such as: What is the best way to build customer loyalty? How will the organization connect with a customer to create a positive "gut feel"? What will drive customers to recommend the organization, brand and products to others more often to the point that they are willing to pay a premium price?

Setting the destination, auditing the current situation and mapping the journey is an iterative process that may require several revisions before a final CRM strategy is developed. The challenge is to avoid rushing the development process, as the company may be committed to many years of change.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Making Brand Champions

Take a good look at all of your stake holders, do they have a good understanding of what your brand stands for? Chances are there is a mixed bag of understanding about your brand from your stake holders.

Brand Champions are advocates who promote and or refer your business to others. They are passionate about your brand and are active in your promotion. Many times even brand champions don’t have a clear understanding of what you do. So – here’s your chance to strengthen existing brand champions and empower others who could potentially become Brand Champions for your company. Lets tackle each of the stakeholder groups to shore up support for the team:

• develop brand training that exposes the employee to the brand’s core capabilities
• give the employee a brand statement that they can use to properly explain the brand promise or key positioning strategy
• provide employees with apparel festooned with the brand logo and/or positioning statement
• be sure that they are aware of the company’s proud history
• develop a model where an employee has input on possible opportunities
• make available educational opportunities that can help employees make your product offering or service better
• make it possible for employees to belong to influential community groups
• for employees that have direct customer contact, be sure that they exhibit traits complementary to the brand personality and values
• help employees understand that a properly managed brand will benefit their incomes into the future
• make sure suppliers know where they stand in the food chain of your brand
• let them know what is expected of them and how that impacts the growth of your brand
• be sure that they understand the culture of your company
• provide suppliers with apparel festooned with the brand logo and/or positioning statement
• be sure that policies regarding gifts or favors compliment brand values
• provide them the opportunity to tell your story
• referral programs to reward their enthusiasm for your brand
• regularly survey them to be sure that you are exceeding their expectations
• make it a brand policy to go above and beyond what is expected
• get bodies in front of customers, don’t reply to heavily on email
• look for ways of enhancing the relationship with customers ( track their personal and professional motivations )
• provide customers with apparel festooned with the brand logo and/or positioning statement
• record testimonials from customer advocates, (don’t pay for these statements)
• quickly address problems and issues with professionalism
• nurture loyalty among customers by building relationships from sales transactions
• keep customers on top of changes and improvements to the brand
Management/Share Holders:
• be sure that everyone is singing from the same song sheet
• provide Management/Share Holders with apparel festooned with the brand logo and/or positioning statement
• be sure that this group understands and are loyal to the brand values and personality
• with every decision that effects the brand, be sure that the information flows down efficiently to the other stake holders
• be aware of executive decisions that could conflict with the brand
• audit your brand from time to time to be sure that the brand is not wavering in its focus
• be aware that the leaders of the brand impact it directly – implementing change should always compliment brand legacy
At the end of the day, Brand Champions will deliver a winning game plan. Branding is a team sport in the strictest sense of the word. If you have a tendency to go it alone,
you might find that your brand is stagnant. Your best chance at winning is when you allow stake holders to become part of the branding team. TOGETHER, YOU COULD BE A LEADER IN YOUR CATEGORY!

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DIY App Inventor For Android

Google is offering a free software tool for non-developers to build their own Android applications. The free software, called Google App Inventor for Android, has been under development for a year. User testing has been done mainly in schools with groups that included sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and university undergraduates who are not computer science majors.

"The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world," said Harold Abelson, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is on sabbatical at Google and led the project.

The Google project, Mr. Abelson said, is intended to give users, especially young people, a simple tool to let them tinker with smartphone software, much as people have done with computers. Over the years, he noted, simplified programming tools like Basic, Logo and Scratch have opened the door to innovations of all kinds. Microsoft's first product, for example, was a version of Basic, pared down to run on personal computers.

Google's App Inventor is a visual programming language for creating mobile phone applications on Android devices. It provides both a great way to learn how to program and, arguably, the fastest method for creating mobile apps in the world.

App Inventor allows even non-programmers to create apps. But it is also a valuable tool if you are already a programmer, the tool's visual nature and high-level components significantly increase the speed by which you can develop apps and prototypes.

App Inventor is a block-editing tool similar to the programming environment scratch developed at MIT.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Blackberry Business Application Development – The Next Big Thing?

It's enough to look around and see the booming increase of mobile phones and handheld computers; almost everyone has at least one cellular device, if not more. Increased simplicity has caused 'premium'-featured models to be introduced to the 'entry-level' customers. Today business-people actively perform functions on mobile devices that were formerly reserved for laptops or netbooks.

Netbook sales took off over the past few years, and for good reason: these tiny, light computers were tailor-made for the mobile user who increasingly performed most office-related activity online. Netbooks provide some of the convenience and functionality of a full-fledged notebook while weighing less than half of even the lightest units and boasting battery life that can in some cases take you through an entire day without recharging.

But many netbook users quickly bump up against the limitations built in to this form factor. Screens are cramped, and processors are barely adequate for running Windows. In addition, a notebook computer - even if tiny and lightweight - is still a notebook computer, requiring you to stash it, and the inevitable accessories, in some bag that you have to carry around with you.

Evidence of the mobile craze is everywhere. According to a survey by Synovate, a global marketing and research firm, 70 percent of users surveyed in 11 global markets use their hand held mobile devices for non-voice data applications and one-third use them to access the Internet.

According to Dataquest estimates, the total market size of enterprise mobile applications in India stood at Rs 560 crore in FY 09, up from Rs 347 crore in FY 08 a growth of 61%.

Mobile application development is a huge boom in the technology sector. These applications have expanded the use of wireless technology immensely. The new developing applications have bought the revolutionary changes in the use of mobile phones.

Competition is getting tough day by day with ever changing technology and increasing demands for more advance applications, innovation in this field is key to success. Several companies have entered in the field of development of mobile applications and they are introducing the latest apps based on the new technologies with ever increasing benefits.

A reputable web application development company that specializes in software application development can develop mobile applications to integrate your business transactions through mobile or wireless devices and content delivered systems. A mobile application developer with a solid background in project analysis, documentation, test plotting, and project maintenance can help you on the way to your making revolutionary mobile applications.

Business Mashups, a software development company headquartered in the the city beautiful, Chandigarh, is extending its software development services and this time for the latest BlackBerry platform.

Business Mashups has been one of the pioneers on the IT market to offer bespoke software development services using web technologies. Among the most requested solutions are business applications and sophisticated web-based systems. No matter what type of business need it is, Business Mashups leverages industry standards from HTML to AJAX, works alongside with Eclipse, NetBeans, and Java Development Environments.

The BlackBerry product line, created by Research in Motion (RIM), includes handsets and software both for individuals and businesses. The integration of smartphones and software provides advanced access to emails, notes, tasks, contacts, and many more.

With all the mobile platforms targeting their app store towards average consumer, enterprise mobile applications market in India has still not reached a critical mass, but is gaining momentum.

Business use of mobiles requires a different set of features, namely strong email support, web browsing, a good screen, software support and local connectivity options.

Blackberry was created with business use in mind. Blackberry wins for business use and security. Besides its e-mailing and call functions, blackberry developers have now provided applications to make the Blackberry a handy asset to both the small and medium sized businesses. The access to various third-party applications for the Blackberry has made it a vital toll in today’s business environment.

Business Mashups has long identified with the trend by providing offshore blackberry development services. Our experts can create appealing applications over different BlackBerry OS Platforms. Whether you need BlackBerry Apps Development for Store, business automation application, sales force automation, transaction management or intranet applications such as executive MIS on mobile, CRM,etc, we have a team of qualified hands to meet your blackberry mobile application development under your budget and timelines.