Microsoft offers zero percent financing on Dynamics ERP and CRM. Given the economy and the credit crunch, it must make a lot of sense, right? Not really. In ERP, licensing the product is far from being the most significant cost. Training, implementation, change management, additional hardware, additional software (like database), third party software components that goes with the new package (add ons are common addition to ERP implementations) make the money you spend with Microsoft the smallest part of your investment. Continue reading “Financing an ERP product does not equal financing a car”
There is plenty of good advice out there for start-ups and small and medium businesses (SMBs) and most of it is: slow down, save cash, go back to basics, put on hold expansion plans, be careful- it is dangerous out there. By now, everyone read the Sequoia Capital’s 56 Slide Presentation Of Doom or read the variety of e-mails sent to start-up CEOs by their investors. Today on my way to lunch I caught a glimpse of Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association, talking on NPR and advising small businesses to put growth plans on hold. It is all good advice, but I have an issue with the way it is delivered. Continue reading “Machine gun approach to the economical crisis”
The panelist were 3 SaaS vendors (Dan Druker from Intacct, Rob Holl from Adaptive Planning and Jeff Schultz from Bill.com) and one near 100% SaaS customer, Doug Harr from Ingres. Although we didn’t get to talk much about the future of SaaS, several interesting takeaways came out of the event:
- 100% SaaS is real- Companies like Ingres made strategic decision to become 100% SaaS and they move programmatically toward that. If it was not for Exchange and Office, Ingres would be 100% in the cloud) Continue reading “Going 100% SaaS”
Should small business whine? This is how Seth Godin titled his very telling blog post this morning. No- they should not. Small businesses have every reason in the world to out preform any large company with a bit of common sense and a personal touch. When I remodeled my house, I tried to buy almost everything I could online, mainly from small businesses. In one stressful day the plumber came to install all the faucets and discovered we got the wrong part. He wanted a replacement by the end of the next day, so he can install it on time before he leaves to his summer vacation. I emailed the company I bought the item from (small business out of Louisiana) and few minutes later I got a tracking number for an next day air shipment of the right piece. No excuses, no whining- amazing service by one committed business. I ended up buying all other plumbing materials from them. Investing in personal customer service is your safest bet- you are either the boss or close to her, there is no bureaucracy and decisions can be made in minutes. In addition, you can use some of the rules I published last year that will help you appear large and professional. Look as professional as Amazon but with a better/faster/personal customer service can be your ultimate competitive weapon.
- Presence: save on coffee, dining out or anything else but don’t save on your public presence. Glossy product brochures and a shiny website are essential to look impressive (Seth Godin just published a useful guide on how to create a good enough website). Make sure you hire a good marketing agency (there are many small firms of young and smart guys that will make you look brilliant). This is one of the areas where quantity doesn’t count as much as quality. I know many people don’t think it is important–but trust me, it is as bad as coming to a sales meeting unshaved and in your DYI outfit.
- Use technology to appear bigger– Continue reading “Small is not an excuse”
In his fascinating book, Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely describes the lure of the zero priced item. Dan provides examples from the real life: in his experiments, people selected Lindt truffles for 30 cents over Hershey kisses for 3 cents, but when given a choice, preferred a now free Hershey kiss over 27 cents truffle. The conclusion from this experiment and many other is clear: we love free.
No other place as the Silicon Valley has ever produced more free stuff: we have a free search, free reviews, free price comparison and free web conferencing. Almost everything is offered for free, in an attempt to win us over and break our old paying habits. In a rational world, we would have carefully considered the benefits of each option and select the best for us, no matter if it is free or not. In Ariely’s predictably irrational world, we will always go for the free option. Continue reading “Commiting to Zero”
Last week I wrote about measuring customer satisfaction using only one powerful question. Between then and now I was approached by two companies to gauge mine: Netflix and Telenav. I like both services a lot but Netflix proves time and again that they have mastered the web 2.0 techniques of measuring satisfaction and performance whileTelenav looks like it outsourced customer engagement to an agency from the 90s… Continue reading “How not to Measure Customer Satisfaction”
We all know that companies that offer superb customer experience and enjoy high customer satisfaction are more successful and competitive in the long run. Often when I meet managers in for Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) companies, I hear that they are convinced that their customers love them. When I ask for a “proof,” they say that they just know it: they don’t need to measure it since they talk with their customers all the time. When I dig more, I usually discover that they think that measuring customer satisfaction is too hard and expensive for a small company. In this post I will try to offer an easy way to measure and compare customer satisfaction for SMB companies.
Why measure? You should measure customer satisfaction for the same reason you measure sales. When you want a number to go up you ought to measure it so you can establish a baseline and a way to measure the impact of business strategy on customer satisfaction. Imagine investing in marketing without checking the sales impact, and you will get the idea. Continue reading “Measuring Customer Satisfaction, the SMB way”
Last week I wrote the first part of the Is SaaS for me post. It talked about two important distinctions of the SaaS model: It changes the power play between the customer and the vendor and assures that the vendors work for the customers every day. This part will cover some more distinctions like simplicity, security and maintenance. Continue reading “Is SaaS For Me? (Part 2)”
People write a lot about SaaS and focus on the famous “no-software” phrase that Marc Benioff coined. What many people fail to discuss is that the SaaS model, even if one ignores the products themselves, brings real value to customers and puts them in the driver’s seat for the first time. So for once, let’s not talk about technology or delivery mechanisms, but rather focus on the change in the most basic rules of the game that the SaaS revolution is creating, with or without a planning hand from the SaaS companies side. Most of this change is affecting my favorite segment, the Small and medium businesses (SMBs), so let’s talk about how SaaS impacts the way SMBs treat IT. Continue reading “Is SaaS for me? (Part One)”
I am not claiming to be a network security expert, but here is a trend: while SMBs consistently place network security as their number one IT priority (Gartner SMB IT survey is only one example), many CEOs have “outsourced” the issue to their overworked IT departments, assuming that they will know what to do. As a CEO/CFO or any other C-level executive, there are some questions you should ask yourself about your network security and about the assets you actually protect.
What is the business impact of network security breaches? Actually, I can’t answer this question for you without knowing your business. What I do know is that there is something you want to protect. Continue reading “So where is network security on your priority list?”