Posts Tagged ‘SaaS’

Can Social Media Replace Face-to-Face Networking? Part One

May 2, 2010

Part One

As a classically trained scientist, I find it amusing when people say that there are no “killer apps” left to be discovered or created. What could possibly be invented that is exponentially better than what we have now? The human mind is always defining better ways to do things that we need and so there will always be new killer apps that come along. Are they for everyone? No, not at all. Can they benefit certain people in specific situations? Sure, depending upon needs, wants and costs.

When Sony came out with the Walkman for audio cassette tapes in 1979, it revolutionized how we listen to music. The concept of portable personal music later evolved into CDs, DVDs and MP3 players. Each new version was a stunning commercial success that reclassified its predecessors as buggy whips in the market as old replaced new. Now we see related concepts such as the Kindle revolutionizing book reading. Where will it end? It won’t!

In the world of Referral Marketing AKA Word of Mouth Referrals, we have a recent advancement known as Social Media. It started with online programs such as MySpace and Facebook and now includes hundreds of variations of ways to create online communities that share business and personal information with friends and strangers. Social media started getting serious in the 1990’s when people gained entry into the Internet as they acquired broadband service. It actually started in the 1980’s using BBSs on dialup modems but the hardware technology was too limiting and the depth of users was too small. At the time, face-to-face old fashioned networking was the skill you had to master. Referral organizations such as BNI (Business Network International) started in California in 1985 to refine those techniques and promote a successful method of building business.

Into the 2000’s, the penetration of broadband Internet continued to grow and a critical mass of users developed. Social networking became more and more popular as high school and college students made MySpace famous for being an almost exclusive social club for meeting each other online. For a while it was the opposite of the bars and pubs they couldn’t legally get into – you had to be a student to join MySpace and your parents weren’t allowed in. How cool was that? If Mommy and Daddy couldn’t see what was going on, then you could say what you really felt and post pictures online without the consequences being a factor. Party time 24 hours a day.

Eventually, just as if you heard the raucous party next door at all hours of the night,  adults wanted to see what was going on. They recognized that having an Internet community could be an interesting entity to create and use. Business people saw it as a way to attract new customers. Friends and family could use it to keep in touch better than Instant Messaging such as AIM, ICQ and MSN Messenger. Developers ran wild with new techniques and purposes for their versions of how people could connect with people.

The table was set. The people were ready. Businesses were willing to invest significant funds for development. The high school and college kids who were so happy with MySpace were grown up and in the workforce and in position to write new software. Their imagination was about to blossom and fill the niche with hundreds of ways to connect with each other. Opportunity was about to meet innovation and talent. The spectre of profits didn’t hurt, especially considering the size of the potential worldwide market. We call the concept “SaaS” (Software as a Service) today and it changed the way we use computers. OMG! It’s a killer app, dude!

In Part Two we will investigate how Baby Boomers differ from later generations that they trained and educated.

VOIP as SaaS (Software as a Service)

May 1, 2009

One of the true innovations in office technology has been the idea of SaaS or Software as a Service. This means that a software program is accessible through a local or wide area network by an employee to perform a task. The program does not have to be loaded on every computer, it just has to be reachable through your network.

 

Some examples that have been gaining favor are QuickBooks run via the Intuit website, various Managed Service Provider programs (N-able, Kaseyan, etc.) and antivirus scans of your computer through the Internet from the companies’ main office. Most people are unaware that a VOIP phone system acts much in the same way and provides many features as SaaS.

 

Back in the ‘old’ days before VOIP, phone handsets on your desktop were fed a dial tone for connectivity but then had to supply 95% of your features as built-in hardware in the actual phone. If you needed “Do Not Disturb (DND)” you pushed the DND button. If your phone did not have a DND button, well, you just didn’t have that ability. If you wanted to “CallForward” your phone to a different location temporarily, you made a hard transfer by pushing a long sequence of buttons, sometimes having to repeat the commands to set them. That was time consuming and at times difficult.

 

If you wanted “Distinctive Ringing”, a specific ringer tone for certain callers, you could search for ways to accomplish that but most likely you were out of luck. “Repeat Dial”? “Last Number Redial”? “Contact Lists” (Caller ID replaced by text of your choice when a specific number calls in to you)? All of these features are software-driven in a VOIP phone system. It doesn’t matter which VOIP IP-phone you have on your desktop; you will be able to use these features when you need them. Your phone system will not be obsoleted too quickly because as the software advances, so do your usable features.

 

Compare that to a key or hybrid phone system where you may be locked in by the hardware features well beyond your need to change them or add new features. Phone systems are not cheap. They are a vital part of business and demand study and tough decisions to make prior to purchase. You certainly do not want to make a wrong decision that will be with you for ten years.

 

VOIP phone systems allow your company the ability to change the system as your company grows and prospers. The technology you buy today is not necessarily the technology you will need in three, five or ten years. Using a software-driven system such as VOIP with Asterisk and trixbox can extend the useful and productive investment that your company makes in your phone system. Ask your phone vendor how much change can be incorporated into your phone system without buying any new hardware. Ask your phone vendor if new features can be added within a day or two simply by turning on software features that are already there but just not used yet. You may have a labor charge but should not incur any parts or software charges, If you do, it may be time to consider the smart way to build your phone system right from the start, VOIP with SaaS as its operating system.

 

Ask for your free phone system audit from Select Phone Solutions by calling 281-501-6464.

 

“Productivity Through Technology”