Welcome!

Machine Learning Authors: Progress Blog, Elizabeth White, Jack Jachner, Leon Adato, Liz McMillan

Blog Feed Post

How to Choose Business Software: The Top 5 Considerations

Are you looking for a new CRM for your business? How about something to manage your sales efforts, or track your projects, or handle your finances?

Searching the internet for “cloud based software” or “business CRMs” can be a daunting process; there are endless options, all with pretty websites, and all with big promises. What should you be looking for when picking a cloud solution for your business?

We have completed hundreds of software implementations, reviewed dozens of software systems, and have had our finger on the pulse of the industry for more than 5 years. These are our top 5 considerations for picking the right software for your business.

1. Security

A lot of systems promote “bank grade” security, but what does that mean? Generally, they are referring to the “SS-Enabled” nature of their web applications (with SS = Secure Socket); this is great as it adds an extra (and hard to crack) layer to the system’s security.

SSL is great, but it’s standard industry practice – the best software solutions go above and beyond that.

Does the software provide transparent information about their security, or just vague promises? Things to look for include hashed and encrypted passwords, data redundancy, IP access controls, robust permissions systems, and multi-step login authentication.

At the very least, do your homework and see how the company has handled security issues in the past, if any. Data security never matters until something happens to you – and in today’s world, it probably eventually will.

2. User Experience
Whether discussing social networks, video games, media sites, or business software, technology hacks like ourselves love user experience, ie the experience of using a product (iPhone = good. Clamshell packaging = bad).

Many business owners are attracted to management-driven software (see Salesforce and Netsuite). But before you’re drawn to a sales pitch that shows you nice bright graphs and category-based ROI, have an employee take the software for a spin. Software is only as effective as the people using it, so if the UI is a nightmare to figure out or use, then it’s likely not the best option for your business (and those reports won’t mean anything, because no one is using it).

3. Integrations/API
One of the main perks of cloud software is the ability to integrate your systems together using APIs (or, Application Programming Interfaces); basically, these are digital handshakes between systems, enabling your software to share data and information. This might mean viewing your customer service data alongside your sales data, or accessing your CRM from within your Google Apps mail account.

These type of integrations are only possible when the systems you use have open and accessible APIs. Do some research on the software and look into the integrations it offers. You don’t want to feel handcuffed by what you’ve implemented if the system’s API is lacking, or nonexistent.

Moreover, integrations aren’t all created equal. Make sure you read the documentation or find a Youtube video demonstrating how any given integration works – it might be a “lip service” integration, instead of something delivering true value.

4. The Vision
It’s important to take into account the software company’s future plans when deciding whether to onboard them for your business. In some instances the company’s founders just want to build a huge user base so they can sell the company to someone like Salesforce or Oracle. You, as the user, go from a SMB using SMB software, to a SMB using enterprise software; that’s no good.

It’s often times very difficult to judge or understand a company’s vision, though the amount and timing of their funding (if any), as well as the background of its founders are good places to start.

Are the founders engineers? Software industry guys? Or, are they entrepreneurs looking to flip their next company? Look for interviews, Techcrunch reviews, or blog posts that may hint at the company’s direction. You don’t want to be stranded a year after launch.

5. Features
It might sound obvious, but a solution’s feature-set should be a determining factor when you choose it for your business.

Just because something calls itself a CRM, for example, doesn’t mean it does the things you need it to. Take project management – most CRMs handle tasks very differently than a traditional project management tool. Whether or not that difference works for your business could be a make-or-break feature.

Moreover, solutions have different approaches to features. We’ve written previously on the Guerilla vs. Spider Web approaches – suffice to say, some software tries to do it all, while other software solutions specialize. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

———–

There are pros and cons with everything solution, and nothing is perfect. If you keep the above factors in mind when researching a new system, then you should be on the right track. And if you’re still confused? Send us a note, we’d love to help!

 

VM Associates is a New York City cloud computing consulting firm. We help companies transition into newer, better, smarter software. Contact us to talk about your business, the cloud, and how we might help.

The post How to Choose Business Software: The Top 5 Considerations appeared first on VM Associates.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.

@CloudExpo Stories
With Cloud Foundry you can easily deploy and use apps utilizing websocket technology, but not everybody realizes that scaling them out is not that trivial. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Roman Swoszowski, CTO and VP, Cloud Foundry Services, at Grape Up, will show you an example of how to deal with this issue. He will demonstrate a cloud-native Spring Boot app running in Cloud Foundry and communicating with clients over websocket protocol that can be easily scaled horizontally and coordinate...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, discussed how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He also discussed how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
Any startup has to have a clear go –to-market strategy from the beginning. Similarly, any data science project has to have a go to production strategy from its first days, so it could go beyond proof-of-concept. Machine learning and artificial intelligence in production would result in hundreds of training pipelines and machine learning models that are continuously revised by teams of data scientists and seamlessly connected with web applications for tenants and users.
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, will address this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of t...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
IT organizations are moving to the cloud in hopes to approve efficiency, increase agility and save money. Migrating workloads might seem like a simple task, but what many businesses don’t realize is that application migration criteria differs across organizations, making it difficult for architects to arrive at an accurate TCO number. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO of CloudHealth Technologies, will offer a systematic approach to understanding the TCO of a cloud application...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
For financial firms, the cloud is going to increasingly become a crucial part of dealing with customers over the next five years and beyond, particularly with the growing use and acceptance of virtual currencies. There are new data storage paradigms on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive financial data around the world without touching terrestrial networks. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Cliff Beek, President of Cloud Constellation Corporation, d...
"With Digital Experience Monitoring what used to be a simple visit to a web page has exploded into app on phones, data from social media feeds, competitive benchmarking - these are all components that are only available because of some type of digital asset," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Channels, a cybersecurity firm, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Channels, Inc. offers several products and solutions to its many clients, helping them protect critical data from being compromised and access to computer networks from the unauthorized. The company develops comprehensive data encryption security strategie...
From 2013, NTT Communications has been providing cPaaS service, SkyWay. Its customer’s expectations for leveraging WebRTC technology are not only typical real-time communication use cases such as Web conference, remote education, but also IoT use cases such as remote camera monitoring, smart-glass, and robotic. Because of this, NTT Communications has numerous IoT business use-cases that its customers are developing on top of PaaS. WebRTC will lead IoT businesses to be more innovative and address...
Connecting to major cloud service providers is becoming central to doing business. But your cloud provider’s performance is only as good as your connectivity solution. Massive Networks will place you in the driver's seat by exposing how you can extend your LAN from any location to include any cloud platform through an advanced high-performance connection that is secure and dedicated to your business-critical data. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Paul Mako, CEO & CIO of Massive Networks, wil...
Deep learning has been very successful in social sciences and specially areas where there is a lot of data. Trading is another field that can be viewed as social science with a lot of data. With the advent of Deep Learning and Big Data technologies for efficient computation, we are finally able to use the same methods in investment management as we would in face recognition or in making chat-bots. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Gaurav Chakravorty, co-founder and Head of Strategy Development ...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
The goal of Continuous Testing is to shift testing left to find defects earlier and release software faster. This can be achieved by integrating a set of open source functional and performance testing tools in the early stages of your software delivery lifecycle. There is one process that binds all application delivery stages together into one well-orchestrated machine: Continuous Testing. Continuous Testing is the conveyer belt between the Software Factory and production stages. Artifacts are m...
As businesses adopt functionalities in cloud computing, it’s imperative that IT operations consistently ensure cloud systems work correctly – all of the time, and to their best capabilities. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Bernd Harzog, CEO and founder of OpsDataStore, presented an industry answer to the common question, “Are you running IT operations as efficiently and as cost effectively as you need to?” He then expounded on the industry issues he frequently came up against as an analyst, and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that App2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. App2Cloud is an online Platform, specializing in migrating legacy applications to any Cloud Providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud).
Cloud resources, although available in abundance, are inherently volatile. For transactional computing, like ERP and most enterprise software, this is a challenge as transactional integrity and data fidelity is paramount – making it a challenge to create cloud native applications while relying on RDBMS. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Claus Jepsen, Chief Architect and Head of Innovation Labs at Unit4, will explore that in order to create distributed and scalable solutions ensuring high availa...
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., discussed how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advantage ...
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...