Thoughts from a business technology advocate. Not necessarily coherent.

Posts tagged “iPad

G2Crowd.com – New Crowd Sourcing Site

G2 Crowd logo

 

 

 

 

 

It started with an In Mail via LinkedIn from a very nice lady called Molly O’Hare telling me all about their new website, G2Crowd.com.

Saw this discussion in the Sage CRM group, and seems like you have a lot of knowledge to share about CRM. My company is building a site for users to review business technology products and share their experiences with different solutions and vendors. Our idea is that with unbiased feedback from real users, buyers will be more empowered to make the right decisions for their business needs.

Well, I’m a sucker for flattery and the Irish (OK, so Molly is from the US, but was there ever a more Irish name?  Perhaps Niamh O’Mahoney, but this is missing the point) so I took a look at the website to see what it was all about.  Importantly, Molly asked for my feedback on the site, so my intention was to check it out and give my honest opinion.

Connected through LinkedIn

Some people do not like to sign up to everything using their LinkedIn or Facebook profile.  I happen to be one of those people.  I just don’t want people taking a look at stuff I consider personal, or necessarily have access to that type of information.  I want to be in control of that, so to be forced to use LinkedIn without an alternative sign up option irks me.  I understand that responses are probably easier to validate if there is a reputation behind them, and you can leave contributions anonymously if you wish, but in principle, I wish there was an alternative option.

Listed Products

Searching for products to review is a piece of cake: simply click on Products and either search or browse for the product you wish to critique.  Recognising the logo is the intuitive way to identify those products you are able to review.  Helpfully, there are banners where there are incentives to review, such as being the first to review, or a reward for doing so.  My favourite here is the the Reviews Wanted option.  This makes it simple to just navigate to a product that the site wants to increase (or start) reviews for, and allows you to start doing so straight away.

Gamification

Why does my dictionary not yet recognise this word?  It’s becoming de rigeur for all websites, (even some applications,) to gamify their content to encourage usage.  I love it as a concept and, truthfully, it motivated me to conduct more reviews for the site.  There are various points awarded for certain types of action:

Attributed Review +15 points
Anonymous Review +10 points
Validated Review +20 points
Features Review +5 points
Peer marks you as helpful +3 points
Peer marks you as unhelpful -1 point
Rating +1 point
Comment +2 points
Refer a Friend +15 points

There are more points – just check the website for details.  Clearly you should get a greater number of points for actually reviewing a product than merely rating it; after all, someone has made the effort to add their thoughts and ideas to the site.  I also agree that a validated review (where you can upload a screenshot to prove you use the system) should carry more.  However, I could make up a load of reviews based on what I find on the net, so for me, the validated reviews should carry greater weight and be rewarded with more points.  Similarly, it is easy to just rate products based on a loose opinion.  I have certain views about SAP because I work for a company that does not provide it and may consider it ‘the enemy’ (incidentally, they don’t necessarily, I’m arguing the point).

Contests are provided to encourage users of the site to offer up more reviews and contribute to discussions.  I decided that I would go for the CRM Contributor contest as this is clearly the area I know most about.  It soon seemed to me that it would be very difficult to win the top prize of an iPad Mini for being in the top 5 contributor charts for this category (only points gained within this category would count towards the contest).  Plus, I was concerned that the only way you could get to be a top 5 contributor was to be an industry specialist, which seemed contrary to the type of person I thought G2 Crowd were after to review products (i.e. independently).  I contacted Matt Gorniak, Co-Founder of G2 Crowd, who then helped explain their ideas on how this would be possible.  Essentially, striking up a dialogue with other users was a good way to gain points.  This I did.  It was certainly true that my score improved.  However, and the types of comments I saw from other ‘competitors’ seemed to demonstrate this, there ensues a very broken dialogue consisting of questions that sometimes pose little relevance to the original review, or are just ‘I agree’.  Each one of these gains valuable points. Sure, there is the option to mark comments as unhelpful, but I suspect no one wished to do that whilst the top 5 were clearly moving further away from the other competitors.  In essence, the nature of the reward I think encouraged certain behaviours.

Disclosure: I was lucky enough to stay in the Top 5 and am grateful to have received my iPad Mini as a result.  Each review I made was based on my real experiences with the product and a number of my reviews were validated with proof of my usage.  Did I ever add a comment to get the points?  Yes, I did.  Did everyone else?  Definitely.

Interestingly, since winning my prize, the criteria for winning an iPad Mini has been raised and this seems sensible to me.  As with all ‘beta’ sites (as that it what it still states on the website) tweaks will be made to ensure the site runs smoothly and, of course, the more users there are, the easier it will become to gain valid reviews from a broader range of people.

Summary

I enjoyed participating in the site and intend to continue to do so.  There are other crowd-sourcing sites around, and there are similarities and differences between them all.  Gamification is here to stay so the awarding of points is a suitable incentive.  Prizes need to be awarded for quality as well as quantity.  What is very encouraging is the interaction with the site’s founders and administrators.  They seem to me to be genuinely interested in feedback, so why not give it a go – you must have an opinion.  Obviously I’d like you to use my referral code so I get the points!

http://www.g2crowd.com/login?referral_code=2514

 

 


BYOD to Take Off Soon?

I’ve read a few articles recently about bringing your own device (BYOD) to the workplace and it seems to crop up in various conversations in our office.  It’s certainly an interesting talking point and one which, over time, will generate plenty of discussion between people in different roles within an organisation.

From what I’ve observed, the points raised by people are essentially this:

General Office Worker – it’s the company’s responsibility to provide equipment and look after it.

Senior Manager – as long as I can connect my iPad to the network and get various pieces of information, I’m happy.

Technical Role-based Worker – if the company gives me a rise in salary to cover it (or a suitably high enough spec), I’d much rather choose the devices I work with.  I’m happy to put some of my own funds towards getting even higher spec equipment if this means I can work faster/better.  I’m more capable of looking after my device than our IT team so I just need the right security clearance.

IT Manager – I’m glad I don’t have to look after the equipment, but the security issue is a big problem.  Having so many different types of device puts too much pressure on the IT team.  I don’t want people using applications that they have installed for their personal use connected to my network.

It does seem as though most workers I speak to (in the techie world don’t forget) are in favour of BYOD, but that their respective IT teams are not.  The IT managers seem protective of their network (not unwisely) and will have to shift, psychologically as well as practically, if BYOD were to be successful within their organisation.  I suspect that BYOD will creep in as more people use tablet and mobile devices to access organisational data.  As more and more business applications move to either public or private cloud-based hosting models (see Office365 as a good example), I suspect there will simply be less need for the device to be owned by the business; to me, that seems like a huge positive.


Microsoft Excites Me

There was a time, not so long ago, when it just wasn’t cool to be ‘a PC’.  The iPhone was released and, yes, it revolutionised the mobile phone market.  Let’s face it, even Microsoft’s alliance with Nokia and the Lumia 800/900 is still no match.  The iPad still dominates the tablet market and there is simply not going to be an end to the launch day queues any time soon.

But I notice something going on at Microsoft, emphasised by a visit made this week to their UK campus at Thames Valley Park.

A couple of Stormtroopers were casually walking round the building (as is the norm one assumes) for the launch of some Star Wars game for Xbox 360 with Kinect.  Kinect, now there’s a fantastic idea, and I don’t even own one.  I was told of a method of using Kinect to walk through a warehouse process in an ERP system, and how such technology could be possibly used for CRM processes in a similar manner.

BOOM!

That was my mind actually exploding.

I love the Metro style.  Apple is sleek and unmistakably cool, end of story.  But I like the simplicity of Metro and the concept is radical enough, given it’s just an extension of touch concepts.  They’re still playing catch up but the gap is narrowing.

Perhaps the thing I like the most lately about Microsoft, is it’s willingness to show us concepts.  Microsoft Research gives us snippets and toys to play with.  We get ‘consumer previews’ (betas) and options to feedback.  I don’t doubt for a moment that we don’t get to see anything near to the real top-secret cutting edge stuff, but all we get from Apple is secret, hype and, lately, let downs (see iPhone 4S for reference).

I am a PC, and always will be.  At least I can be a bit more open about it.


Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile – What’s All The Fuss About?

Microsoft announced, yesterday (06/02/12), the launch of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile for Q2 2012 in their next service release.  Twitter subsequently went into absolute meltdown in a frenzy of micro-news as tweeters competed to be the first to announce the revolution that is CRM mobile.  I, too, joined in the mania in a wave of sheep-like copycat-ism.

But then I stood back from my actions for a moment and thought to myself: hang on, is this really news?

Well, on the one hand, no it isn’t really.  Mobile, tablet and cross-browser support has been on the roadmap for ages and was common knowledge.  Perhaps the frenzy, therefore, was caused by the surge in demand/use of mobile devices so, in reality, although it was coming, it couldn’t quite come soon enough.

On the other hand, however, it’s fantastic news for the guys at CWR Mobility in the Netherlands whose product Microsoft are using.  They truly are a great company with a great product and I’m really happy for them that this has happened; it’s fantastic recognition.  Any readers of this blog (if in fact there are any) will, of course, know all about CWR Mobility from this blog post in July 2011.

I’m just relieved I picked the winning horse!

Further reading: Customery, Magnetism


Can Apple Really Challenge Microsoft in Business?

I’m a PC.  Or, at least, I thought I was.

When the wife bought her first iPhone (3GS) a few years ago, I chortled at the incredulity of such a device.  After all, it’s just an iPod with an additional feature.  A year later, I sneaked my iPhone 4 into the house after having a brief dalliance with an HTC HD2 which, I’m afraid, was just awful.

The iPhone 4 was a work phone, but I went for it because I wanted the apps.  I didn’t (and still don’t) have a problem with the phone aspect despite many people complaining about it’s ability to perform against a BlackBerry.  But I didn’t have any real business use for it.  Then I was presented with the prospect of iPad.  Again, I didn’t see the use of it other than as a leisure tool, so I played around with it for a bit, brought it into the light now and again and mostly passed it to my three year old son to play games.

However, a colleague mentioned an app for iOS called Wunderlist, a task list that synchronises to the cloud so you can access your list anywhere.  This was the start of a whole new relationship with Apple products.  Suddenly I had a use for my two devices in addition to the usual Twitter/Email/Calendar functions.  On the back of this, I’ve come across other applications, usually specific, that also help my daily life:

DropBox - Totally fills the HUGE gap in iPad’s lack of directory structure.  I save files to my DropBox account on my desktop and no longer print things out.  Ever.

OneNote - A recent creation, but now that I synchronise to my SkyDrive account, I just drop notes here or on my laptop and have cut down on my note taking.

Noteability - Similar to OneNote, but with some better features.  I like the ability to draw/scribe, but I will have to buy a ‘stylus’ to use it better.

Microsoft Lync – How awesome to be able to chat to colleagues and collaborate wherever I am.  To be fair, the greatness is in the core product, not the app, but the fact that I can do it on the iPad or iPhone is fantastic.

There is a huge array of apps that I just don’t know about.  (If you have any you recommend, please add a comment below.)

So, whereas I struggled to see how Apple could do it, now I believe they just might make a significant inroad into the corporate, enterprise market.

Further reading: http://ow.ly/8s53a


New Year’s Resolutions

I never make new year’s resolutions.  However, for some reason, I seem to have developed a mental list of things to do/achieve in 2012.  So, what the hell, I’ll list them here.

In no particular order:

  1. Switch off from work more when I’m not at it
  2. Do more cultural things with the kids
  3. See an orchestra perform
  4. Go to the Olympics
  5. Motivate my team more
  6. Use my iPad more for business
  7. Tweet more about technology on my BizPaul account, less about banal stuff on my other account
  8. Learn more about CRM on tablet devices (Sage CRM for Tablet, CWR Mobility etc.)
  9. Blog more frequently
  10. Exercise more frequently
  11. Eat cheese less frequently

Do you have any new year’s resolutions?  How many of them do you think you will likely stick to?


iPhone 4S

There have been a million and one posts about the new iPhone 4S.  Frankly, I haven’t had the time to write anything prosaic about what I think about it, but I, like many others, was disappointed by the announcement of the iPhone 4S rather than the iPhone 5.  I think Apple has the late Steve Jobs to thanks for building a brand iconic enough to withstand the disappointment.  However, I did manage to play with one last week, and my disappointment has been reaffirmed.

I’ve updated by iPhone 4 and iPad (1) to iOS5 and the subsequent experience has been good.  The problem I have with the iPhone 4S is that I can’t really see the improvement.  My iPhone 4 is fast, responsive and the retina screen is excellent.  If the new model had a larger screen, thinner dimensions etc. I’d be a bit more impressed, but of course, that was what the iPhone 5 was supposed to have.

Even Siri is overrated in my view.  Sure, it’s clever, and they’ve put some nice answers in there (’42’ – you know the question), but it couldn’t find the most popular children’s names for me and that’s important!

My wife will be getting a 4S so I’ll reserve final judgement then.  Believe me, if it’s better than the 4, she will take great delight in telling me so.


CRM Mobility – Update

So, in our testing, CWR Mobility comes out pretty well.  Fast, easy to install and administer.  We’re waiting to put this in a customer’s site which, in reality, it will be used far more intensively than in our system.

Definitely more information to follow.


CRM Mobility Options

Tablet

It seems everyone in the office (alright, not everyone) is talking about mobility options for CRM.  Why?  To me it seems the latest craze in the ever changing CRM world and I don’t think it’s completely founded on need.

Having worked in the CRM world for ten years now, I’ve seen fads come and go, and the need for mobile solutions for CRM has also come and gone.  I remember, particularly, how much people wanted CRM on PDAs, as they were then referred to.  It failed because the screens were too small, the connection wasn’t available and the core CRM products just tried to push the same desktop experience to the mobile device.

Is this any different now?

The screens are no longer small.  Tablets are all the rage but they do genuinely allow you to at least look at information in a readable font size.  Net connection on the device is also much better, although 3G coverage required to get a truly mobile experience is dicey in the UK at best.  Because memory is so cheap (and small), storage capabilities have allowed offline capabilities.  And you can now create a unique mobile experience cutting the unwanted view/screens/fields etc. to minimise data transfer.

There are several products we’ve been looking at at Concentrix TSG lately: CWR Mobility, Resco, TenDigits, SageCRM iPhone Client to name a few.  Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll write a quick review of each as I get to use them.

I accept that mobile CRM is more likely than ever to come to a useful fruition; I use my iPad all the time, albeit not for business.  What is most interesting to me is whether the usability of the individual products dictate the device on which they should be used, or whether the opposite is true; that an MD’s insistence on using his iPad ensures total exclusivity.


Windows 8 Concept

Through the marvel that is Twitter, I was prompted to watch a preview of Windows 8 made by the User Experience team at Microsoft.

I defy anyone to say this does not look cool.  Much better than the current state of the iPad.  In your face Apple!


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