Archive for the ‘business’ tag
Everybody’s talking about the m-commerce boom, but if you look past the sophisticated surveys, app owners are struggling to figure out why their conversion rates fall short of expectations.
It’s not surprising if you consider the fact that mobile shopping cart abandonment rates are around 97 percent. Many frustrated developers have asked me how they can decrease these huge numbers that just don’t fit their business model.
I’ve tried to look at this challenge differently, not as a payment expert but rather from a psychological viewpoint, exploring our users’ needs and expectations throughout the checkout process.
Many influential payment companies in this ecosystem have introduced backend solutions that address merchants and developers’ needs. So as a developer you can now enjoy easy APIs, friendly onboarding, methods with reduced processing fees, all of which make their lives easier. The one factor that’s left out of this equation is the user, who somehow seems to be neglected, even though they’re the only one who controls the transaction.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a psychological theory used to understand human motivation. The hierarchy is based on five levels of needs. In order to reach the next level, a person must first satisfy the lower level of needs.
Even though it’s a little far from the original framework, some of its principals can actually be applied to understand the influence of users’ needs in reference to mobile conversion rates.
Basic needs: keep it simple
Twenty-nine percent of mobile shoppers who abandoned the checkout process did so because they were required to register before buying.
Mobile commerce is here to stay. We’re not just targeting early adopters anymore. However, in order to achieve mass market adoption the basic process needs to be clear and simple.
Many app owners require that their users create an account, even for a one time purchase. Yet people need to get their feet wet before jumping in the water. Forcing users to register and remember yet another password can be a huge barrier for someone who still has concerns about their purchase.
Every complication along the way gives the user a chance to stop and rethink their buying decision, while chasing away most impulse buyers among your users. This is obviously less basic than the need for air or food, but it’s probably the key factor to increasing conversion rates.
Main takeaway: Facilitate a simple checkout, avoid forcing the user to create an account or use a password.
Safety: Give them peace of mind
Forty-two percent of consumers have stopped or abandoned a purchase on a website because of a safety or security concern.
Security concerns are probably the #1 barrier to online shopping, and things don’t improve on mobile. However, it’s a matter of perception rather than facts. The level of security available with today’s range of technologies is high. Financial risks exist in the physical commerce world as well, but whenever there’s a mobile payment involved, the fear factor kicks in and users becomes more alert. Delivering a secure process isn’t enough; our biggest challenge is to make users FEEL that the process is secure.
One of the problems in most checkout experiences on native apps is redirecting to the PSP’s web page to complete the transaction. At that very point where your user has finally grown to trust you, you pull them away to a different site and bring them back to square one in terms of their attitude towards the purchase. This triggers many doubts about this unfamiliar external page, about its level of security, and what could go wrong while trying to return to the app. Creating a full native experience will ease those concerns and give your users more piece of mind.
Main Takeaway: Maintain a native in-app payment; avoid redirecting to an external web page.
Belonging: create a familiar environment
Forty-nine percent of mobile shoppers don’t shop more on their smartphone due to an awkward shopping experience.
A sense of belonging is triggered in a familiar environment. The beauty of Amazon’s checkout is that you can buy a book, a pair of sneakers or a laptop, but the checkout process is the same. By creating this payment standardization process the consumer feels like they are in a familiar place.
Your payment page doesn’t have to win a design contest; it has to look like a place where people pay, with a reliable look and feel, aligned with the standard payment conventions.
Another way to maintain familiarity and continuity is by enabling users to pay without re-entering credit card details. Make sure you keep security in mind and meet the standards of PCI compliance; if you need a reminder, go back to level 2 of the pyramid.
Main takeaway: Deliver a seamless experience without asking for details that the user has already given in the past, and don’t get too creative with design and special effects.
Esteem: let them run the show
Seventy-nine percent of decisive consumers said they would be more inclined to make online purchases if given easier and more secure payment options than credit and debit cards.
People like to believe they have freedom to choose. When you limit users to one payment method, you send a message of “my way or nothing at all.” By offering multiple options, the user becomes actively involved in the process, they’re the one calling the shots.
If you’re a global player, multiple payment methods are a must. In some countries credit card penetration is very low and other methods are essential.
Main takeaway: Offer your consumers multiple payment methods suitable for your geography and business model.
Self-actualization: keep up with them
Sixty-three percent of consumers prefer mobile commerce because they can do it while multi-tasking.
Today’s consumer has a lot on her mind. Mobile shoppers want to be a savvy consumer, one who gets things done, gets the best deal and wastes as little time as possible, because time is money. By giving shoppers an efficient experience, they’ll feel like they made a smart choice.
Users are often faster and smarter than us, and expect vendors to keep up. Without unnecessary friction, they’re left with more time to concentrate on the big decisions that makes each of them unique.
Your users are smart. Give them real benefits; they’ll appreciate it.
Main takeaway: Stay up-to-date with the latest innovations to help you tailor your consumer focused checkout.
Noam Inbar is director of business development at ZooZ, a payment and checkout platform for developers.
Top image credit: zizzy/Flickr
Filed under: Business
Debbie Landa is CEO of Dealmaker Media/Under the Radar.
With the Under the Radar conference coming up this week, I’ve been speaking to a lot of startups about how they’re managing to get their messages out to business decision makers. The conference is all about how the consumerization of IT is changing how startups design and market their products. And most recently I spoke to Aubrey Sabala (pictured, VP of marketing for “smart data” company Sailthru, to find out how she’s experiencing this change, both as the marketing lead of a startup and as a buyer of technology from other startups. Sabala (pictured below) pulls from quite a bit of experience — she’s previously worked on innovative marketing programs for some of the largest brands in technology, including Google, Facebook, Digg, and AOL and helped lead Facebook’s Consumer Marketing Team, serving as the executive producer for Facebook Live.
Here’s what she had to say.
Debbie Landa: We’ve heard from the likes of Gartner and others that CMOs are quickly outpacing CIOs in terms of technology spending. What types of technologies are you looking for today?
Aubrey Sabala: We’re very data driven here at Sailthru. We want to ensure that our marketing spend is going to the right place and that leads have been qualified. Software that can give us a very informed picture of how our marketing campaigns are converting, or who’s landing on our website — more than Google Analytics — is worth investing in. Our top priority is very accurately quantifying the success of the campaigns we’re working on. Of course, we also leverage Sailthru ourselves, which provides a lot of actionable insight.
Landa: How much of your overall budget is tied to technology purchases?
Sabala: Because we create a marketing solution, we fall on the lower end, maybe 10-15% — but we expect that to increase. My guess is that the average CMO would say about 30%.
Landa: Do you find yourself competing with your CIO for IT budget?
Sabala: To date, no. It’s more of a challenge at other companies, but we’re spared from some of that drama because many of our tools are built in-house. One thing is true regardless: You need to be able to justify technology purchases. In B2C companies, that’s harder because consumer marketers build out social channels, which is not tied to sales acquisition in a direct or measurable way.
Landa: If you could wave a magic wand and solve specific business problems with technology, what would those be? Where should tomorrow’s entrepreneurs be putting their energy?
Sabala: Today there are many different touchpoints, channels, and data sources that businesses need to connect in order to understand customers. Integrating them is really challenging, and getting insights from them to inform your marketing efforts is even more difficult. However, it’s worth it for organizations of every size and it’s the very challenge we’re solving with Smart Data. I’d also love turnkey customized landing pages that tie into Salesforce so that we could go out and market directly. I’d also love to optimize the sales funnel even further so that we can really identify the best qualified leads — at the right time — so that we can turn them into sales.
Landa: How long does the typical buying process take, from initial pitch to deployment, and what does your vetting process look like?
Sabala: We want to make sure we’re investing wisely, so we ask a lot of questions and always ask for customer testimonials, referrals, case studies, etc., all of which adds time to the process. We want to know if we have the infrastructure in place, that the value outweighs the cost, that it’s solving a real pain, and that we’re buying solutions that will still work in the long-term. We always ask to speak with vendors’ customers to ask the pivotal question: “When you approach the time to renew and you’re evaluating your budget, would you renew or look elsewhere?” All that said, we’re typically able to deploy technology in a month or so.
Landa: What are the biggest challenges associated with choosing new startups to work with?
Sabala: Vendors need to be able to show that they’re proven; that means more data points and more case studies— as a vendor, it’s a challenge we face as well. Vendors should strive not to pitch, but to build trust and credibility. Both vendors and customers should be asking the right questions, connecting the dots with other customers with similar challenges, and diving deeper.
Landa: Many businesses make major purchasing decisions by looking at analyst reports and benchmarks. How important are those reports — like Gartner magic quadrants, Forrester Waves, etc. — in your buying decision?
Sabala: I take them into consideration, but it really depends on the size of the company. Many worthwhile startups don’t make the cut because they’re not big enough. I look at it like hiring an employee: Everything that’s on paper gives you a starting point, but the real story is in the backchannel conversations. Don’t stop at the standard, traditional sources like analyst houses — be proactive with technology exploration! When you think about adopting a technology solution, you want to be able to scale and invest in the long haul. Think more about the problems you’ll have in a year or two and evaluate solutions that solve those problems.
Landa: Why do you attend events like Under the Radar?
Sabala: I think that if you’re not looking at the future of these technologies, you’re already two steps behind. It’s a forward-thinking challenge to participate with entrepreneurs that are innovating in various spaces. I always leave these types of events thinking, “Wow, we will have some very cool tools in our toolbox in the near future!”
Meet Aubrey Sabala and hear how technology factors into her marketing strategies at Under the Radar 2013, May 22-23, in San Francisco. Register today using special discount code VentureBeatVIP.
For more insight from our Under the Radar series, see our previous stories:
- 12 enterprise mobility startups to watch
- Rackspace CMO to vendors: ‘Be smarter than me’
- How to get a top 10 website to pay attention to your startup
- How to capture Cisco’s attention: An exclusive interview with Biren Gandhi
Top photo of a nervous businessman from Shutterstock.
Today, Twitter was officially granted U.S. Patent #8,448,084 for an mobile app invention: Pull to refresh. That is, of course, the same gesture-based user interface control that many apps already use — such as major Twitter social media rival Facebook.
The mechanics of the innovation are simple and have already added the lexicon of gestures that most mobile users have already become familiar with: Pull the user interface down to force the app to refresh its current view.
But thanks to Twitter’s innovator’s patent agreement (IPA), the business and legal ramifications are just about as easy.
As The Verge notes, Twitter’s IPA was released as a 1.0 spec today as releasing it in draft form early in 2012. And the IPA is in full effect for this most recent Twitter patent.
Loren Brichter, the developer who created pull-to-refresh — which Twitter acquired in 2010 when it bought Tweetie — was concerned about how Twitter would use his patent. So concerned, in fact, that he asked Twitter to agree with him as part of the terms of the sale of his company that it would never use the patent offensively.
This means, according to the IPA, any company that has not initiated offensive patent litigation in the past decade is safe. Defensive use of the patent, however is permitted by the IPA if the following terms are true:
- If a company “has filed, maintained, threatened, or voluntarily participated in a patent infringement lawsuit against Assignee or any of Assignee’s users, affiliates, customers, suppliers, or distributors.”
- Or, if a company :has filed, maintained, or voluntarily participated in a patent infringement lawsuit against another in the past 10 years.”
- And finally, “to deter a patent litigation threat against Assignee or Assignee’s users, affiliates, customers, suppliers, or distributors.”
There’s one more loophole for offensive patent action if the above do not apply: if the company that owns the patent asks the engineers responsible for creating the intellectual property for written permission.
Overall, however, this is a significant step to making patents better and reducing the impact of patent trolling and patent lawsuits — if other companies adopt it in large numbers.
“We hope the adoption of the IPA will spur constructive dialogue on making patent system work better for companies, inventors, and policymakers alike,” Twitter’s Ben Lee wrote today.
Image credits: Twitter icons
Streaming music service Pandora is launching a new radio station today that features songs from albums that aren’t yet available for sale.
The station, called Pandora Premieres, will featured a slew of unreleased music, interviews and other extra content from both established and emerging artists about a week before you can buy them via retail stores. The channel lets you listen to those songs as often as you’d like in any order, (so basically, its on-demand), and kicks off with music from John Fogerty, and Laura Marling. The content itself will get refreshed once a week, in which case you’ll have to either buy the album to continue hearing those previously unreleased tracks or wait for them to get played on your custom smart radio stations.
The move marks an important step in Pandora’s attempt to become just as vital to the music industry as the traditional radio stations were decades earlier. I’m curious about whether Pandora is paying for its users to play these tracks, or if Pandora Premieres is primarily a promotional vehicle that music companies can pay for to help sell new albums. And given Pandora’s problems with generating enough revenue, I’m guessing they probably aren’t paying for on-demand licensing, which is far more expensive than the digital radio fees.
If Pandora is getting paid for what it plays on Pandora Premieres (at least in part) by the music industry, then it could prove to be an extremely smart move, too — and one that traditional radio has turned into a source of revenue. This is also something that Grooveshark is exploring with the launch of their new Grooveshark radio service that debuted last month.
Navigating to the new station reveals that Pandora is maximizing its advertising by pulling in a sole sponsor, as you can see from the screenshot above. Beyond that, Pandora’s Tim Westergren only had this to say about the new station in a company blog post:
“Pandora Premieres is also a new and unique vehicle for artists, both established and emerging, to reach and expand their audience. Seeing the impact of Pandora on the careers of working musicians continues to be one of the most gratifying parts of this experience.”
We’ve reached out to Pandora for clarification about its strategy for Pandora Premieres, and will update this post with any new information we find out.
CharityBuzz has gotten a taste of the tech world’s power, and it wants more. Weeks after auctioning off coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook for a staggering $610,000, CharityBuzz is starting a new auction, this time aimed right down the strike zone of startup company founders:
Bid to pitch your favorite venture capitalist.
The charity is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the world’s largest volunteer health agency dedicated to curing blood cancers, and 21 leading venture capitalists from some of the biggest-name investment firms in the country have donated lunch, dinner, or pitch meetings to hear your best ideas … after you’ve coughed up a bit of coin for charity.
Those VCs include all-stars like Tim Draper, who’s offering a not just a 15-minute pitch session but a full two-hour dinner for three at the “famous Tamarine Restaurant” in Palo Alto, CA. Menlo Ventures is represented by Shervin Pishevar, and
will be donating a “power lunch” somewhere on the also-famous Sand Hill Road.
Which means you’ll have the full time and attention of a powerful, experienced, and — most importantly — looking-to-invest venture capitalist for at least an hour, and up to two hours. Which might be hard to pass up for founders who are looking to make connections and close funding rounds.
Here’s the stellar line-up:
- Tim Draper (Draper Fisher Jurvetson Founder & Managing Director)
- Shervin Pishevar (Menlo Ventures Venture Advisor)
- Keith Rabois (Khosla Ventures)
- Brian Singerman (Founders Fund Partner)
- Patrick Chung (New Enterprise Associates Partner)
- Babak Nivi & Naval Ravikant (AngelList Co-founders)
- Brian O’Malley (Battery Ventures General Partner)
- George Bischof (Meritech Capital Managing Director)
- David J. Blumberg (Blumberg Capital Founder & Managing Director)
- Josh Kopelman and Rob Hayes (First Round Capital Founder & Partner)
- Megan Quinn (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Partner)
- Tod Francis (Shasta Ventures Managing Director)
- Ajay Chopra (Trinity Ventures General Partner)
- Ann Miura-Ko & Mike Maples Jr. (Floodgate Fund Co-founding Partner & Managing Partner)
- Jon Soberg (Blumberg Capital Managing Director)
- Tim Chang (Mayfield Fund Managing Director)
- Gus Tai (Trinity Ventures General Partner)
- Geoff Lewis (Founders Fund Principal)
- Ellen Pao (Reddit Strategic Partnerships)
- Dan Scholnick (Trinity Ventures Principal James Cham)
- David Lee (SV Angel Co-founder & Managing Director)
But it won’t be easy. If the Tim Cook auction is any indicator, prices could get high. Dinner for three with Tim Draper carries an estimated value of $30,000, and already has a bid at $3,000. Many of the others have estimated valuations of $5,000.
A successful relationship with a big-name VC, of course, could be worth many times those numbers. But — and this might be the trouble with this particular auction — founders who are just starting out tend not to have huge sums of money to throw at speculative meetings.
Which means that already-funding entrepreneurs who are looking to close a B, C, or D round might have a better shot. If they can convince their boards that this is a good investment.
But, lest we forget, it’s all for a good cause in the end, and can probably be written off as a charitable donation.
“We are deeply grateful to the venture capitalists who have donated their time to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” Christina Resasco, Founder of MobilizeForTheCure, said in a statement. “Their generosity will provide crucial funding needed to advance blood cancer research and development for LLS and give hope to those suffering from the disease.”
The project is part of the Venture Capital Master’s Lunch Series, which has raised about $200,000 since 2010. Last year’s winners included entrepreneurs from Australia, Poland, Russia, and the Philippines.
Gamers may not care about the hardware so long as it runs games smoothly and doesn’t get in their way. But the Xbox One is an engineering marvel that combines both cloud processing and a heavily-engineered game console to produce game effects that Microsoft promises will be truly impressive.
If you look at all of the tasks that the machine does, it’s clear there isn’t enough silicon in the box. Nick Baker, one of the head silicon engineers at Microsoft and a key architect on the Xbox 360 chips as well as the Xbox One chips. But the cool thing about the box — which has chips with 5 billion transistors in them — is that it can tap supercomputers in web-connected data centers to do processing.
That means the hardware inside the box isn’t fixed. Over time, the hardware can get better as Microsoft upgrades the technology in the data centers. For now, Microsoft has more than 300,000 servers in its data centers to support Xbox One and the Xbox Live online entertainment service. The Microsoft super geeks spoke on a panel at the Xbox Reveal in a session moderated by Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb.
That processing power enables things like instantaneous Kinect, where voice commands immediately activate tasks on the Xbox, from waking up the machine instantly to changing the channel on your TV. That kind of processing exists alongside other things going on at the same time. You can, for instance, watch TV and then receive a Skype call without turning off the TV show.
“There are a growing number of transistors in the cloud that you can move the loads onto,” said Boyd Multerer, one of the software experts at Microsoft. “I think it’s an inflection point. So over time, your box gets more powerful. We move loads into the cloud to free up resources on the box.”
Todd Holmdahl, another longtime Microsoft hardware executive, said the load can shift from one device to another. The cloud can tackle tasks in games like physics, artificial intelligence, and even some rendering. The tasks that require low latency, with split second interaction between one chip or one device and another, are the tasks that still have to be handled inside the box.
“This is a radically different way of thinking about a game console,” he said.
The machine has things like Gigabit Ethernet so that it can be ready for improvements in internet speeds. It has multiple power states so it can reduce power consumption when necessary.
Holmdahl said that the Kinect system was redesigned from the ground up. The sensors are now smart enough to detect your facial expressions, allowing for smarter games that know how you are feeling as you play the game. Kinect has a variety of sensors it can rely on, like time-of-flight depth cameras and infrared, which is good at detecting low-light movements.
Baker said that the internal Microsoft chip team had to design five pieces of silicon to handle all of the tasks in the console and the Kinect subsystem, which now comes bundled with the box. The team had to test the chips thoroughly, running 10 trillion cycles of simulation in order to make sure everything worked right. The chips had to be designed to work with each other in a coherent way.
The GPU is multitasking, so that it can run compute and cloud tasks at the same time that it renders graphics, Baker said. The net result is that it can do billions of calculations per second.
Holmdahl said, “We started with a blank slate. We talked to the hardware, software people. One of the good things about Microsoft is you have those people under the same roof.”
Holmdahl said developers will be able to exploit these technologies as they learn more about things like instantaneous voice command integration into the game console.
The work started a few years ago.
“The development of these things takes a while,” Holmdahl said. “You develop some things that don’t work. We have converged on something that people will love.”
Multerer said the machine has eight gigabytes of RAM because it needed to have fast-switching between apps and support the ability to have two things running at the same time, such as the Kinect entertainment controls and the games.
The new generation of graphics chips is based on supercomputing technologies and having the right data flow, with the focus on having the data in the right places at the right time. So there had to be caches of memory on the die, on the CPU, to feed that data to the processor, Multerer said.
Baker said that things like Hyper V, virtualization, and 64-bit processors really started in a data center. Getting them into a living room device wasn’t easy.
“This is really a first,” Baker said.
“And it’s hard to do,” Multerer said. “David Cutler came under our team a year and a half ago and he worked on the operating system himself.”
Dan Greenawalt, one of the game development experts at Microsoft, said that Microsoft brought together teams from Microsoft Research and other teams.
“This is the next giant leap forward,” he said.
Filed under: Business
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the hospital who navigate crappy software on outdated hardware to keep you healthy — and it needs to stop.
Executives from Cedar’s-Sinai and Kaiser Permanente explained at VentureBeat’s HealthBeat conference that technology innovators need to start focusing on new, consumer-like user experiences and better end-to-end communications software and hardware. Otherwise, nurses are going to start using their own devices, which creates obvious issues in privacy and data management.
“We’ve done a lot of ethnographic research of our nursing areas. … It’s still amazing when you walk into that environment that there’s still a tremendous amount of inefficiency, redundancy.” said Julie Vilardi, a registered nurse, as well as the executive director of Kaiser Permanente’s clinical informatics and strategic projects. “User experience it’s really critically important. Because of the consumer experience now is pretty slick, when you get into the walls of the hospital [consumer-grade experiences are] beginning to be the expectation, and we so don’t deliver it right now.”
She explained how nurses manage everything having to do with your hospital stay from the medication you’re prescribed, to food you eat, and the baths you take. They typically have four or so patients who may not even be in the same area of the hospital. These nurses often have to tote around workstations on wheels, and clunky communications devices that simply aren’t effective, but because of their ability work in a chaotic environment, they’re making due.
Darren Dworking, the chief information officer for Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center, said the center recently deployed 800 iPhones to its staff. He thought clinicians were going to shy away from using texting for communications, but he was wrong.
“A lot of our clinicians are beginning to use technology in other aspects of their life … they want to know how come they can’t have a healthcare version of that,” said Dworking. “Giving them something akin to a cordless phone isn’t going to do it for communications.”
Vilardi says she hopes to see developers create a consumer-grade iPhone experience for patient management and electronic medical records (EMR). She wants to be able to push an icon to get a patient assessment, and believes we’re very close to that reality. Dworking, however, encourages innovators to look beyond the EMR, which he says the window has closed on. Instead, he hopes that people will find a new way of displaying data and improving communications.
According to Vilardi, iOS phones and tablets really are the devices of choice in hospitals today. This is because vendors in general are taking more advantage of iOS than Android. She explained that Kaiser is looking for ways to integrate Android, however.
Nurses, speak up! We want to hear from you about your experiences with workstations on wheels, apps, and more. Send us an email at email@example.com or e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via Michael O’Donnell/VentureBeat
Apple CEO Tim Cook is answering some tough question on Capitol Hill today, responding to questions from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on Apple’s untaxed billions of dollars in overseas income.
But not from Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who used most of his question time to chat about his own tax code reform initiatives.
Portman, who has has some presidential aspirations in the past and clearly wants to massively re-write the tax code to make it easier to “repatriate” overseas income, also tossed a few softballs towards to Cook and his subordinates. And he illuminated an interesting correlation between Apple and Samsung.
“Apple and Samsung pay about the same global tax rates, correct?” Senator Portman asked. “But your investment options are a lot more limited.”
Senator Portmans’ point, which Cook and Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer agreed to, is that Samsung paid about $4 billion in corporate taxes on about $28 billion in global earnings — roughly equivalent to Apple’s global effective tax rate of about seven percent. And, that Samsung can bring home foreign income without being taxed.
“Our international tax code puts our workers at a disadvantage,” Portman continued. “No other country in the world has such high barriers to bringing international income home … and Canada just lowered to its rate to 15 percent.”
That 15 percent, of course, is much lower than the U.S. rate of 35 percent which has caused Apple to refrain from bringing about $100 billion in overseas income home to the the U.S.
Portman asked Tim Cook if Samsung was Apple’s biggest competitor, which Cook was careful to deflect into “it’s one of them,” and highlighted the fact that Apple is an American success story. Cook answered that Apple’s overseas income has powered Apple’s growth, and that Apple has created or supported 600,000 U.S. jobs.
“80 percent of the world’s purchasing power lies beyond our borders,” Portman said. “But we’re living with an international tax code that’s a relic of the 1960s.”
Almost all of the OECD countries, Portman added, have moved to a territorial tax system in which earnings are taxed in the countries in which they are realized — i.e., where sales are made. And they do not tax foreign income.
We’re well beyond any question about whether cloud computing is the future. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) paved the way for the idea that organizations can operate some of their most important systems in an on-premise or off-premise cloud. Small, medium and even large businesses accept that cloud computing delivers flexibility, cost and scalability that business has never had before. Companies are gravitating to cloud because it brings very short time to value and doesn’t impact the current business model. Lower cost and less risk are very attractive propositions.
How big is this move? Forrester estimates that the average company has 9.3 different SaaS applications in use. Consulting firm Cap Gemini reports that 78% of new applications are deployed into the cloud. And that’s just the applications that are being tracked. In reality, workers today are practicing BYOS (Bring Your Own Service) as they experiment with SaaS in broad ways that IT and even business managers may not know about.
Cloud has its challenges
As cloud computing continues to mature and its use expands, it hasn’t been without challenges. The single most significant limitation has been the increasing pain of a lack of integration between cloud applications and the rest of the business. This is a pain that becomes more acute as the cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-on-premise system invariably becomes more complex. On top of the integration challenge, the mechanics of cloud expose organizations to increased risk of data integrity, process latency and security. Oftentimes, SaaS applications are being marketed to the business, which likely looks at risk in a different way than IT or compliance. This is a challenge itself as the organization faces risks that aren’t understood or moratoriums on SaaS use that aren’t followed.
A way to solve this problem is to stay within a single SaaS vendor “stack,” but that leaves an organization beholden to a single vendor – a risky position. But there’s a reality of the still-maturing cloud: SaaS applications are typically limited in capability, a necessary evil of the SaaS paradigm that creates economies of scale for users by requiring customers to use highly standardized interfaces and functionality. To build out the same level of capability that’s commonplace in the on-premise world, organizations need to blend custom functionality within their own walls with multiple, disparate cloud applications and storage options. The reality of Cloud is that nearly all enterprises will need to operate a hybrid model for years to come.
TIBCO Cloud Bus
With these challenges in mind, TIBCO today released TIBCO Cloud Bus. This is an entirely new integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) that uses ready-made templates and connectors to integrate cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-on-premise systems and applications, and includes integration with social networks. In keeping with the nature of the cloud, TIBCO Cloud Bus is a subscription service and pay-as-you-go without a large upfront investment or infrastructure.
The immediate benefit of this iPaaS platform comes from being able to rapidly connect SaaS applications without having to program, by using the latest graphical tools in a business-friendly user interface. Considering how critical time-to-value has become, this kind of ease of use is essential. Let’s face it, what matters enormously today may not be necessary tomorrow and likewise, business needs to constantly innovate through technology that changes, it seems, daily.
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Filed under: Business, Cloud
The company’s aim is to usher in the next-generation of entertainment, using games as the Trojan horse into broader control of the living room. More than eight years in the making, the new machine represents the company’s ambitions to become the most important gaming and entertainment company in the world.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Xbox One,” said Don Mattrick, head of Microsoft’s game business.
The system turns on in an instant with your voice commands.
It will be interesting to see the reception for it. The world has changed since Microsoft last introduced its Xbox 360 game console in 2005. Apple’s iPhone ushered in a new era of smartphones and tablets that are contenders for the leisure time of consumers. Microsoft has acknowledged this changing landscape and is making the new Xbox more connected than ever.
Nicknamed the Xbox 720, the new machine’s most direct competition will be the Sony PlayStation 4, which is expected to debut in November, as well as the Nintendo Wii U, a less-powerful system that is struggling to gain a foothold in the market. New game consoles typically sell millions at the outset, but Nintendo sold only 3.45 million units in its first five months.
Microsoft sold an estimated 77 million Xbox 360 game consoles during the current generation of hardware. Sony sold about the same, while Nintendo has sold 99 million Wiis. But Microsoft has dominated the charts of consoles sold and game sales for the past couple of years, and companies like Electronic Arts are betting heavily that it will be a leader in the next generation alongside Sony’s PlayStation 4.
Those results are far better than anyone ever expected from Microsoft, which was fundamentally a software company entering the hardware business back in 2001. With the original Xbox, Microsoft moved too slowly. It sold about 25 million units, beating Nintendo’s underpowered GameCube. But it was trounced by Sony’s PlayStation 2, which sold more than 150 million units in its lifetime.
Microsoft essentially moved from zero percent market share in 2000 to 12 percent market share in 2006 in the hardware business. And as the market currently stands, Microsoft has about 30 percent of the hardware unit market, compared to 30 percent for Sony and 40 percent for Nintendo. But in dollars, Microsoft’s share is higher than that, as Wii game sales slowed down dramatically in the last couple of years. Now the company plans to complete its conquest of video games in the coming generation.
The machine has an accelerated processing unit (APU) chip from Advanced Micro Devices. AMD, which also makes the APU for the PS4, is making a semi-custom chip for Microsoft, using eight processing cores, or computing brains, based on Jaguar micro-architecture designs. The chip will combine graphics and processing on the same sliver of silicon, and it represents a shift away from IBM’s three-core Power chips that were used in the previous Xbox 360 game console.
Microsoft and Sony will likely distinguish itself based on the number of cores they will have in each chip. Sony has eight Jaguar cores in its chip, and it also has a special kind of graphics memory that will speed the transfer of data within the chip. Durango has an eight-core 64-bit APU running at 1.6GHz, with 8GBs of DDR3 main memory and a large hard disk. Microsoft’s machine has similar capabilities on the semiconductor level, but its games may not run as fast as Sony’s in part because Microsoft is expected to dedicate some of its performance to running Kinect 2.
Kinect 2 is expected to be a more accurate version of the Kinect motion-sensing system that Microsoft launched in 2010. That system enabled players to control their games with gestures, rather than controllers, using body movements. But it wasn’t particularly accurate, and you had to stand in a sweet spot about 10 feet away from the console. With more processing power dedicated to the motion-sensing tasks, Microsoft will be able to make Kinect 2 more accurate and cover a wider area. Kinect 2 is expected to ship as standard on the new box, with better accuracy, improved voice recognition, a better camera, and dedicated hardware processing. If the latter is true, it will make the box more expensive to make. But the tax on processing power may not be as great.