Entrepreneurs in the Cloud, Easy Expense Management Software, Appealing M2M Offerings, Better IVR Menus

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David Sims
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Entrepreneurs in the Cloud, Easy Expense Management Software, Appealing M2M Offerings, Better IVR Menus

There is a rising number of entrepreneurs seeking cloud-based communications these days, partly because the cloud can support the kind of apps that make communication easier, include features that enable mobility and lower costs, with require no phone equipment for continuous upgrading.

Market research firm In-Stat recently estimated the total number of mobile VoIP users will reach 288 million by the end of 2013, generating annual revenues of $35.2 billion. That’s a heck of a market.

In fact, of these, “well over half will be associated with online mobile VoIP providers, under one-third will use mobile VoIP with 3G MVNOs or mobile operators, and 11 percent with WiMAX/LTE operators,” In-Stat analysts found in the report, “Mobile VoIP -- Transforming the Future of Wireless Voice.”

As Frank Dickson, In-Stat analyst remarked, “The near-term opportunity for mobile VoIP is closely linked with the growing success of dual-mode phones and other Wi-Fi connected devices... [but] mobile VoIP still poses a direct threat to operator voice revenue.”

Read more here.

If you were looking expense management software that blurs the lines of traditional travel and expense management systems, with something a sales pro pretty much already knows how to use, you’re in luck.

Lots of expense management software vendors can offer integration with Salesforce.com, but according to a recent blog post written by Concur officials, they’re offering a “truly blended product.” And they should be calling it “blended,” since it’s built on Force.com. That’s about as blended as expense management software can get.

At the most recent Salesforce.com Dreamforce Conference, Concur announced a new Concur travel and expense management offering—Concurforce—that is built on Force.com and utilizes Concur’s travel and expense management services.

The application delivers “a simple and familiar experience for Salesforce users,” Concur officials say, noting some of the advantages of the product include that it lets users collaborate on business trip details in Salesforce Chatter, an employee social network; uses itineraries from TripIt, a mobile trip organizer, to create and submit expense reports from within Salesforce CRM; and users can review and approve expense reports right from their Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and iPad devices or from the Web, and get real-time visibility into T&E spend and instant insight into costs associated with sales opportunities and service engagements.

Read more here.

Any idea what the two most appealing M2M offerings in the marketplace are, according to consumer ratings?

Try smart metering and health monitoring, two M2M technologies about 60 percent of consumers viewed as “somewhat” or “very” appealing, according to a national study recently conducted by Market Strategies International.

Smart metering, a.k.a. home energy management, and health monitoring “seem to have struck the most positive chord with prospective users,” according to Keri Christensen, vice president of the communications division at Market Strategies.

Property security, the slightly ominous “people/pet security” and mobile banking and shopping rounded out the top five.

Christensen said given the results of the survey, “aggressive consumer education initiatives emphasizing tangible cost savings, convenience and secure technology” could help push M2M commercialization into mainstream success: “Two-fifths of consumers think the benefits of M2M technology exceed potential problems, but they still have a lot of questions about how applications actually work and very high levels of concern about data security and reliability.”

Read more here.

It’s simple: There’s really no getting away from menus as the best way to get information from those who use your IVR system.

That’s the conclusion of IVR company Angel, and if there’s anyone whose word you can take when it comes to IVR, it’s theirs. They’ve been in the business a long time.

It’s the simplicity and efficiency of menus that ensure their superiority. They give a list of options, users pick what they want and the system moves on to the next step. As the Angel blog writes, “nothing could be more straightforward.”

They’re simple to create, too -- but not easy. Angel.com officials say, “If certain basic principles are not observed, menus can become difficult to use.” Probably it’s their intuitive simplicity that leads people to wrongly assume hey, this is easy.

Angel.com offers some best practices for effective IVR menus:

Present the most requested items first. This might take a bit of trial and error, but know which items are requested most frequently and put them at the beginning of the list.

Keep the menu list to four items or less. It’s a mystery to this reporter why IVR lists have six, 10, even -- we swear we’ve experienced this -- 12 items on a list. Friends, do not do this to your customers. “If you need to present the user with more than four items, split the list into two,”

Angel officials recommend, “with the last option granting access to the second list.” You know you would have difficulty remembering more than four options, your customers do too.

Read more here.


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