Moving on…

I have moved out! Where can you find my next blog posts? Following me….


Salesforce + Hollywood = Like

I became aware of Salesforce a few years ago when working at the Technical Support department of a Technology company. We were utilizing the CRM back then in order to support our customers with a powerful ticketing system and a recently released Knowledge Base solution.

A few years passed after that first encounter with SF and we would be now placed in 2008; My second encounter with Salesforce was in the center of technology and its home town – San Francisco. In this occasion, and while I was living in the foggy city, I was still a regular user but whether this is a good sign or not and while I had been using the software for a few years without actually paying a lot of attention to all its capabilities, this time I came to see Salesforce from a different perspective – that of a person interested in successful technology businesses (which is something that happens when you are in a technology bubble like San Francisco and Silicon Valley); With Salesforce being among the fortune 500 companies, and with Investors willing to invest their capital on it, it was obvious that Salesforce was going to be big and bigger and bigger!

By 2010 Salesforce had grown their customer base from 1,500 customers in 2000 to 104,000 customers as of July 2011.

And how about 2012? Well, last week I attended a Salesforce event in London named the Social Enterprise.What can I say about this event? Worth the attendance in every single way and for several reasons: First and foremost the staging for each of the demonstrations and presentations was fantastic; the scripts were thought and acted to perfection, the videos presented, the hands on training sessions and the trainers and presenters of each session were simply genius.
At some point during the keynotes, when the COO George Hu and a group of selected SVP’s and the like presented some use cases for companies they are partnering with such as Spotify, I really asked myself if this was the Hollywood show of technology brought to the city of London; The characters they had selected to do these speeches were not only fantastic public speakers, had a great presence on the scenery and knew their content really well but some of them were even good looking! (This last fact is completely irrelevant, but come on I am sure they could have chosen the not so blessed looking ones to not appear so perfect and they would still be good at giving a good presentation!); This is when I asked myself if some of them might have been actors just hired for the day? Well even if this was the case, well done on the Cloudforce show.

The conference was really all about Social Media as the name Social Enterprise suggested, so if they are investing hard in the future of technology, marketing, communications and so on putting most of their efforts and money on Social Media related tools then let’s all get close to this revolution; They presented some of their solutions such as their acquisition of Radian 6 last year as a tool to monitor your Social Media Engagement,, an internal social network for communications among employees that many of their existing customers are utilizing as their only communication channel reducing significantly on email volumes, Salesforce Rypple which enables companies to engage and align people across the employee social network, etc.

My conclusion? This conference was a parade and a reflection of Success or as they are naming their next event in San Francisco in September a “Dreamforce”.

Discovering Netsuite

It wasn’t until 6 months ago that I became aware of Netsuite for professional reasons. Perhaps the way I got immersed in this product is not the traditional or most recommended way to learn a Software as a Service tool (or any other tool) but it was the only one I had and it was good enough; My company has built an integration to Netsuite so that users can send text messages to their user database using this software;  This means that I learned a very useful application to establish 2 way conversations using the SMS channel built on on top of this software but without necessarily knowing deeply how powerful Netsuite is and how the day to day users utilize it.

After 6 months of that back and forth trying to learn a little bit more about this powerful software, I was at a Netsuite conference in San Francisco called “Netsuite Suite World” where I finally realized how much customers can achieve and how spread it is across companies that run their business by integrating the CRM, ERP and E-commerce with it. Attending some of the training sessions held at this convention we had the opportunity to see some of the e-commerce sites that are built with it and they were pretty amazing.

Just to give an idea of how successful this company is, they had companies such as Accenture and IBM sponsoring and partnering with them and some other technology companies becoming very well known in Sillicon Valley such as Box, among many other technology businesses.

While on my way to one of the general meetings at the hotel lift, someone described Netsuite in a very simplistic but explanatory way for some curious tourist that suddenly saw their quiet San Francisco Hotel invaded by a few thousand of attendees, to what seemed to them like a technology conference with nice events and lots of networking; “Netsuite is a software in the cloud that integrates your CRM, ERP and E-commerce areas of the business” – No, he was not talking about the San Francisco cloud of fog that surrounds the city most of the time.

Summary and results? It was a great experience to be there, I learned about Netsuite, software, new trends and technologies in Sillicon Valley and got an opportunity for some good business networking.

Jim McGeever, Netsuite’s CTO cited Abraham Lincoln in his last Keynote; I love when smart people cite other smart people because you know there will be some learning or at least some thinking involved: :“Things may come to those who wait…but only the things left by those who hustle.” – So… What are you waiting for?!



Choosing to be a snowboarder in Business [infographic]

The new year has arrived and it is time for us to decide if we want to be skiers or snowboarders. It is becoming even more clear; If you want to succeed in business you need to evolve in every single way. In business like in any other area in life, if you want to be the king of the slope you need to be aware of new trends and adjust your business to new technologies because your competitors are already doing it.

Areas like social media or a modern looking website are just essential to capture the attention of your potential customers. Ask yourself a few questions, am I aware of what my customers want? Do I know where to find my consumers and how to attract them? If you are not, then you will be miles away from your competitors who are taking measures to make sure they follow the new trends and have a strong presence in the main business communication channels.

The following infographic shows how the world has changed and with it, the way we do business should have changed too. Just like in the art of skiing, you should be practicing your snow boarding technique or there won’t be room for you in the slopes.

Of Gigs and Startups

Emmy the Great’s gig in Cambridge was simply that, great. While I was listening to their “relaxing” music in such a peaceful and “academic” environment, my inner geek came out and I suddenly realized that a comparison between a young band fighting to be on the top of music lists and a startup company trying to grow its customer base and design a unique service to compete in this tough overcrowded market would actually be the subject of my next blog post. I am sure those thoughts only happen in cities like Cambridge where the great masterminds cycled [pun intended] all the way to their success.

I found a few similarities in those two different entities when they are created and start the hard climb to the top;-

– They are brought to life by someone with a passion and a talent. The passion being the love of music or the love for technology and the entrepreneurial spirit. The talent being the voice, natural skills, intelligence, creativity and the capability of turning ideas into reality.

– Finding the right voices, minds and souls to help on your steep climb towards success. Be it a music band that compliments your voice giving wings to your voice with their “music talents” or a real geek like you that contributes to your project filling the gaps that you can’t fill with their technology skills, business experience and mentality or simply with new ideas.

– Successful startup companies need to be highly scalable. They can potentially grow rapidly with limited capital. What is the similarity with a music band here? Perhaps the flexibility towards the winds of change; If your best “guitarist” decides to leave the band, you will be able to go on with someone who can keep the band’s style and keep the character that makes it unique intact.

-For startup companies, if things go dandy (and particularly for those in the technology field), the return for the creators could be huge; Not to mention in the music world; If your style, sound and presence in the scene is unique enough to bring people to your concerts, you won’t need to worry about that concern of us called profitability.

Yes, I know, perhaps next time I should focus more on the music and less on the thinking. Great concert though.

Is NFC taking over our wallets?

NFC is here!Well, maybe still a few months/years away of being thoroughly defined and reaching all regions and operators worldwide but trials have certainly started and big brands are looking into solutions to adjust their mobile payment offerings on this technology.

In the UK, mobile carrier Orange announced the first mobile phone contactless payment service in the country back in May this year. The app is called “Quick Tap” and you need to have a Barclays credit or debit card in order to use it. If you meet the requirements then you are ready to pay with your phone in more than 50.000 locations whether you want to pay in McDonald’s or to drink a Cappucino thanks to your phone in Pret a Manger.

In the meantime in the US, the Isis telcos (Verizon and AT&T, the two largest carriers in the US are part of this consortium) are key in the evolution of NFC; Companies with mobile platforms such as Google which recently announced their mobile wallet based on this technology and which is currently only supported by Sprint, will have to collaborate with the consortium if they want their solution to reach the majority of subscribers with Smartphones in the US. One of the main problems faced by these mobile platforms, is the lack of experience regarding regulations in mobile payments, implementing the level of security for this type of transactions, etc. Although, no doubt, give them some time and theirs will probably be the most popular and successful options.

Companies specialized in payments and financial services such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express don’t want to fall behind either, and take the risk of not being a strong competitor on this field by solely sticking to pure credit and debit card payments; This is why all of them in one way or another are starting to build their own solutions or partnering with other companies to do so.

Visa Mobile Contactless Payment solution was certified for commercial use at the end of 2010.This solution was included in the list of Visa compliant products available for potential commercial deployment by financial institutions in the U.S. and selected markets. Some of the Smartphone models compatible with their solution? BlackBerry® BoldTM 9650[2], the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the Android based Samsung Vibrant Galaxy S.

On the other hand, MasterCard has been looking into mobile payments since 2001, according to James Anderson, VP of Mobile at MasterCard. The company introduced “PayPass” back in December of 2002. They run a trial for this “contactless” payment program in a few markets with banking customers such as Citibank. Some brands such as McDonald’s started accepting this payment form back in 2004. It was that year when MasterCard also worked with Motorola to start testing NFC technology. Since NFC is based on existing contactless infrastructure, Paypass is a very important step towards this field. Through 2009 and 2010 Mastercard performed trials with Near Field Communication. Currently, MasterCard is working on different initiatives involving NFC (rumors of MasterCard’s involvement with Google and Citibank to build a Google-branded mobile payments system?) that will continue through 2012 and will definitely be a powerful option for mobile payments.

American Express? Yes, it made its first move towards NFC payments launching “Serve“, their digital payments platform.

How to make friends and influence people [infographic]

It is becoming more and more evident that Social Media is essential on the marketing strategy of a business. Why is this? You can get results quick, easy and at low or no cost at all.

Every business should have a presence in social media, being the main channels Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin and of course Google’s new social product,the promising Google Plus. However, depending on the industry, you should also make sure you establish a strong presence in forums, groups or social networks specialized in your niche, e.g. A business where the main users are software developers should actively participate in Github – A web based hosted service for software development projects that also provides social networking functionality such as feeds and followers.

What else can you do to spread the word about your company through current social media tools? Make the world become aware of your brand by sharing links on social media news sites such as Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon or Hacker News.

The following infographic reflects the benefits of “tweeting”, “digging”, “stumbleuponing” and so on with your content in order to get it to the top of the search engines, e.g. Google, and therefore increase number of visitors to your website. The result? A boost in your sales, which at the end of the day should be the goal 🙂

You will be making mobile payments, no doubt

Everybody agrees that mobile phones and applications are the hottest topic in technology. There is one area in particular however that is gaining a lot of popularity and will continue growing in the next few years; I am talking of course about mobile payments. This  technology allows the purchase of digital content such as ring tones or music and hard goods such as books, using a mobile phone.

There are currently 4 main models used for mobile payments;

  • Premium SMS (PSMS) – With this model, an end user can choose to buy a good with a mobile phone from a content provider’s website or by sending a text message to the merchant’s shortcode. The content provider will then send a premium SMS and the payment will be added to the user’s mobile phone bill. Sometimes the SMS sent by the end user to the shortcode is enough to bill the consumer without the need of receiving an SMS for the billing.
  • Direct Mobile Billing – In this model, the end user selects the mobile billing option when making a purchase at an e-commerce site and then has to go through an authentication process involving a secure pin and a one-time password, after which the consumer’s mobile’s account is charged for the purchase.
  • Mobile web payments (WAP) – The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is used for this model. The end user navigates through web screens and possibly other applications downloaded and installed on the mobile phone to make the payment.
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) – This system is still relatively new and it is expected to become one of the most popular ways to make payments with a mobile phone. It involves something as simple as waving the phone on  a reader enabled with NFC  to make a payment. Some smart phones already contain NFC chips to make use of this new technology.

Top companies such as Google are adopting these technologies and building their own products such as the Google Wallet, so stay tuned for new products and start betting on which will be the future winner in the mobile payments arena.

G+ professional community created an infographic describing how experts see mobile commerce in the next four years, focusing their attention in the NFC technology. Take a look and picture yourself waving your phone to buy a goodie because NFC is almost here;


SMS alerts available? Oh yes!

SMS is very much alive! We are always hearing of some cool applications and services that utilize SMS to engage customers. Here are a few examples:

  • Text message program that sends SMS to smokers in order to quit smoking (US). The program can either be ordered by a smoker or by friends and families of smokers. The smoker will receive text messages to show the damage that smoking does to your health.
  •  SMS alerts for pregnant women (India). The SMS alerts will go from reminding the patients about their doctor appointments to the diet they should follow to have a healthy pregnancy.
  • Free real time text message sewage alerts after raw sewage is discharged (England and Wales).  Sites included in the Sewage Alert Service offer surfers, water sports enthusiasts and beach users the best beach experience possible.
  • The Namibian Domestic Workers Union performed a survey by SMS to allow the public to send their opinion on the appropriate wage category for domestic workers. This data would be gathered to come up with a  proposal for a minimum wage formalized to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.
  • SMS program in Florida (US) to allow patients to send a text message to a dedicated SMS short code in order to instantly receive a message that lists the emergency room wait times for participating hospitals in their area.
  • SMS system that allows citizens  to learn the level of contamination due to ozone,  in order to help those with breathing problems and conditions of asthma (Spain).
  • Alerts via text message to warn of possible flooding, sent through the 93 water level sensors installed island wide in various locations (Singapore).

The most unusual I heard of? An SMS system alert for incoming missiles as an alternative to sirens (Israel)!

How do these services work? Users subscribe or sign up by sending a text message to a Long Code or a shortcode associated with this service.

If any of these modern technologies gave you an idea to implement an SMS service for your business or organization, you could start by visiting SMS providers like Nexmo SMS API, where I work as the Community Manager 🙂

5 News Media Sources To Get Your Daily Content

How to decide what are the best online news sites to get meaningful content?

  • Content that teaches you something useful, that you can enjoy and that keeps you up to date with the hottest topics.
  • Content that you can share with your community and that will keep your audience awake when they read it.

After a few months of research, I have found my favorite daily sources of information which I strictly read, simply because they provide meaningful data and I love it. Here are 5 of my favourite sites which I can’t get by without, in the social media ever changing world:

1. –> I found this personalized Social News Site through a tweet. It was developed by the Washington Post. Basically, the way it works is by building channels that will retrieve the information from many different online sources. You build your channels. A channel is a keyword or a set of keywords, e.g. ‘Mobile Marketing’. It will then retrieve news, blog posts and anything related to that topic. In order to show articles with your selected keyword, this news site factors in a reader’s likes and dislikes, combined with algorithms and articles selected by the editorial team.

2.http:// –> Great source for news in social and digital media, technology and the web. Trove pulls news from Mashable and that is how I came about this one. Again, you can choose your interests and get news related to those or you can manually select what you want to read, e.g. ‘Technology’ . Like in Twitter, you can also follow and be followed by other members, get people and brands within the same field of interests recommended, share content from the site in Twitter, Tumblr  and so on. Mashable contains info and articles written by people collaborating for Mashable, however, Trove gathers info from sites like Mashable and many others, amalgamating them all together so you don’t have to visit them all to find the subjects that interest you.

3. (Hacker News) –>Who hasn’t heard about this one? A social news website about computer hacking and startup companies. You can read news that are submitted by members and you can also submit your own news as long as they have some meaning for the community. Your news can be voted up, down or not voted at all. Obviously, if you submit interesting articles, this will have more impact, they will be tweeted, reach the top of the rank and more users get to read your article and comment on it…..

4. –> Another great Social Newswebsite. Users have the option to submit links to content on the Internet or submit “self” posts that contain original, user-submitted text. Same as in  Hacker News, other users may then vote the posted links “up” or “down”. The articles that reach most votes reach the front page and of course will reach more eyes.

My fifth favorite is a little bit more unusual as it is more traditional than the others. The reason why I choose it is simple; Trove directs me to this newspaper very often with interesting articles about how indian organizations, companies and individuals are using the SMS communication channel. Guess what, that info is good news for Nexmo SMS API and for myself 🙂

5. –> The Times of India –> English language daily newspaper in India. According to Wikipedia, it has the largest circulation among all English-language newspapers in the world