Archive for the ‘Software News’ category

Software Selection: Tips for Choosing Enterprise Innovation Software

October 1st, 2014

Choosing the right tools for your company can be extremely challenging, not to mention expensive, time-consuming, and risky. There are hundred of solutions available for a variety of needs, and it’s often unclear if they’ll deliver on their promises for your specific organization and with your unique workforce.

To help you wrap your mind (and resources) around this difficult but necessary task, we’ve taken the liberty of creating a Buyer’s Guide to innovation management software. Plus, we touched base with the folks over at Software Advice, who research project management software, to see what they’ve discovered about successful software selection through experience and research. Below, the experts answer important questions that every company leader has when it comes to finding and implementing the right tools.

1. Recently, you released a report covering the best software selection tactics for small businesses. Can you give us an overview of the key findings, as well as how the research was conducted?

We found that SMBs should be checking vendor references and having their attorney review all agreements. These two tactics had a positive impact on both the outcome of a software selection project and buyer satisfaction. With the advent of sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and the like, buyers have become accustomed to using customer opinions to help make important purchasing decisions. Our research confirms that this is just as true among SMBs evaluating software.

Our research also showed that the majority of buyers are involving end-users in their selection process—a tactic we found to be ineffective. Buyers who involve end-users are more likely to report high levels of dissatisfaction in their software selection search. I’d attribute this outcome to companies being a victim of having ‘too many cooks in the kitchen.’ While it’s necessary to understand how the software will be used day-to-day, involving end-users could take the project in the wrong direction. End users won’t have the context of knowing the whole scope of the project; for example, they are unlikely to weigh important factors such as integration and project budget.

We collected 321 responses for this survey in 2013. We asked buyers 14 “yes” or “no” questions to determine what tactics they used during their software selection process. We then asked respondents to rate their level of satisfaction with their software purchase on a scale of one to 10, 10 being “extremely satisfied,” one being “extremely dissatisfied.”

2. Businesses of all sizes face challenges when choosing software of any kind. Are any of the approaches listed in the report also applicable to larger organizations? If so, how can they best be made scalable?

One thing that came out as having a low correlation in our survey, that I think is still important for enterprise, is having an IT person involved in the software selection process. In our survey it had a low correlation due in part to many small businesses not always having an IT person. Enterprise operations do have that IT person and that person is often the “tech liaison” that works with the users and decision makers. And it’s really that person who should be the driver of a software selection project to keep it moving forward.

For smaller businesses, it is often the business owner making the software decisions.

3. There are many types of software that businesses can choose to leverage, but some are more straightforward than others. What are some recommendations for small business leaders who are looking for lesser-known tools, like project management or innovation software?

I would recommend that small businesses leaders start with the problems they want to solve. Sit down and make a list of all the pain points your team is experiencing to determine what you need before you go out and say “I want project management software.” That’s something we hear a lot from buyers who think they need one kind of software but after talking to our advisors find that they need a very different tool based on their needs.

4. Give us some insight into the Software Selection Success Quadrant. How would this apply to choosing innovation or project management software, both of which are heavily reliant on widespread user experience?

The quadrant summarizes which tactics are important to ensuring a successful software selection project (“checking vendors references,” for example, was the top tactic). With innovation and project management software, it’s helpful to get a variety of perspectives on what it’s like to use the software. That’s because unlike a single-user system (like a content management system (CMS) where the web editor might be the sole user), large projects involve many users. So where can you get these perspectives on innovation and project management software? Software reviews are a really great place to see firsthand user experience with the functionality of the software and they’re a great way to connect people on your team with others who’ve already used the software. You can also read the vendor’s blog, talk to a 3rd party integrator or speak with one of our advisors.

5. What are the three biggest mistakes businesses make when selecting and implementing software? What challenges do leaders face as a result of those mistakes?

I think the biggest mistake businesses make is starting the process without first taking a good hard look at the problems they want to solve with software. Very often buyers zero in on the cost of the software without first defining their objectives. I recommend that they make a list of the pain points that they think software could solve in their business and talk to the vendor about the specific KPIs that can realistically be improved. Of course, price is a big determining factor, but what if the software actually causes inefficiencies because it’s not effective? That creates a cost that didn’t exist before and can negatively impact ROI.

6. What are the most critical success factors that developers need to consider when designing software, in order to be more appealing to SMB users?

The thing that buyers talk to us most about is ease-of-use. Buyers want software to have an intuitive user interface. Today, a lot of people research software by looking at demos and screenshots. Developers should keep in mind that if those images don’t have a sleek, modern look that conveys ease-of-use, chances are buyers won’t even contact the software companies, who could be losing more sales than they realize.


U.S. Office Sector Plods Ahead

October 1st, 2014

U.S. office rents and occupancies inched higher in the third quarter, as a gradual improvement in the overall economy is translating into a sluggish recovery in the office sector.

Average rents sought by landlords reached $29.62 a square foot in the quarter, up 0.4% over the second quarter and 7.7% since the postdownturn nadir reached in 2010, according to real-estate research firm Reis Inc. REIS +0.86%

Businesses took on an additional 7.2 million square feet in the quarter, a small increase that left the average vacancy rate at 16.8%, the same as the second quarter and down from a postdownturn peak of 17.6% in 2010, according to Reis, which used data from 79 metropolitan areas.

In typical recoveries, vacancies tend to fall and rents tend to rise more quickly, particularly five years after a recession. Yet the vacancy rate today remains well above the 12.5% reached at the market’s peak in 2007.

That has been good news for tenants because slack demand has made it difficult for landlords to raise rents.

“We’re dealing with still-elevated vacancy rates, and that makes it more challenging for landlords,” said Ryan Severino, an economist at Reis.

Rents are poised to rise about 3% in 2014, up from 2.1% in 2013 and 1.8% in 2012, he said.

Commercial real-estate markets can vary greatly by location. Cities with strong technology or energy markets have been booming, setting off waves of new construction and pushing rents up rapidly.

For instance, rents in the San Jose, Calif., region, which includes Silicon Valley, increased 6.7% over the past 12 months to an average of $26.93 a square foot, making it the fastest-growing region in the country, according to Reis. San Francisco rents rose 5.1%—third fastest in the U.S.—as companies including Uber Technologies Inc. expanded rapidly into new space.

Rents in Dallas and Houston, both of which have enjoyed growth from the energy sector, increased 5.2% and 4.4%, respectively, over the past 12 months.

Growth in many other cities, including New York, has come largely from those sectors. MediaMath Inc., a software company that helps companies buy advertisements, has about 300 employees in Manhattan, roughly double what it had a year ago. After it ran out of space in its main Midtown Manhattan office, it had to lease another space a few blocks away, forcing employees to shuttle between the two locations.

In July, it signed a lease for 106,000 square feet at 4 World Trade Center, the new 72-story skyscraper in lower Manhattan. That is up from the 90,000 square feet it currently occupies in three locations. “We’re certainly anticipating growing pretty quickly,” said Joe Zawadzki, the company’s chief executive.

Despite the sluggish growth overall, many executives in the property sector see the pendulum gradually swinging in favor of landlords.

Dennis Friedrich, who heads the office division of the property giant Brookfield Property Partners L.P., said he has observed a change in the attitudes of large companies that are considering what to do with their real estate. “The larger tenants have really come off the sidelines,” said Mr. Friedrich, who signed leases with major tenants in recent months including department-store owner Hudson’s Bay Co.


Ex-Googlers Try to Plug a Gap in Google’s Business Suite

October 1st, 2014

When Google Inc. sells services to businesses, it offers email, word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, file storage and video conferencing. But the Internet giant doesn’t have a business phone service. A group of former Googlers aims to fill that gap.

Switch Communications, run by Craig Walker, the creator of Google Voice, launched a new Internet-based phone service for companies on Tuesday. is run on remote computer servers, so companies don’t have to buy and maintain their own hardware to operate it. It’s also designed to work with companies’ existing office phones and the mobile devices that employees increasingly bring to work.

Switch is entering a large, competitive market is based on the technology known as voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, that lets people send voice calls through a broadband Internet connection rather than a traditional phone line. Telecom research firm Infonetics expects revenue from VoIP services to reach $88 billion in 2018, up from $68 billion in 2013.

There are over a 100 VoIP providers in North America alone, including RingCentral , Ooma, 8×8, and large cable and telecom companies such as Comcast and Verizon . “It is a very crowded market,” Infonetics analyst Diane Myers says.

RingCentral, a Switch rival, went public just over a year ago, selling shares at $13 each. The stock closed at $12.71 on Tuesday.

Switch hopes to compete by integrating its new phone service tightly with Google’s existing suite of business software and applications, known as Google Apps for Work. The startup is targeting businesses that already use the suite. New users sign up with their existing Google account credentials. During calls, they can see related information from recent Gmail messages, shared Google documents, and upcoming Google Calendar invites.

“Google Apps has a growing customer base without a phone system to add to their suite of productivity tools,” Walker said. “ integrates seamlessly with Google Apps to complete the package.”

Switch, formerly known as Firespotter Labs, is packed with former Google employees including Brian Peterson, John Rector and Jeanne DeWitt. Walker spent about three years at the search company overseeing the Google Voice service, which lets users tie several phones to a single number.

Switch is getting support from Google in other ways. The service runs on Google’s cloud computing platform and the start-up is partly backed by Google Ventures, the search company’s venture capital arm.

DeWitt, who helped oversee Google business software sales to small and medium-sized businesses, said is already being pulled into sales meetings with authorized re-sellers of Google Apps software packages.

“Google’s problem is that it has no answer to the business phone question. Companies want to buy everything at once and Switch fills the gap,” DeWitt said.

An early version of is being tested by a handful of businesses that use Google Apps extensively, including the Weather Channel, an online weather information provider with about 1,500 employees.

Nicholas Gardner, senior director of internal systems at the Weather Channel, said he is considering using to replace the company’s existing, traditional phone system, which is provided by Cisco Systems .

The Cisco service requires the Weather Channel to buy and maintain its own rack of computer servers and related software, which needs to be replaced about every three years. Replacing it with would avoid this, potentially cutting the cost of the company’s phone system by up to 70%, Gardner said.

If tests go well, Gardner said he will likely develop a plan to slowly roll out across the company in 2015.


Get Adobe Flash player