Social Business

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Xero is an up-and-coming company in the cloud software market. Focusing on beautiful accounting software for small businesses and a partner-based go-to-market strategy, they are growing quickly and making the competition pay attention.


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Governments by their nature are conservative organizations. With the possible exception of defense, most central and local government departments are slower than entities in the private sector to adopt the latest IT tools – whether something "small" like an off-the-shelf analytics application or "large" like a full-scale migration of systems and software to a cloud-based delivery model. Usually this is okay. But in the realm of public health, it means missing an opportunity to rapidly improve disease monitoring and prediction systems, particularly those concerned with flu outbreaks.


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Marshal McLuhan's 1964 adage "The medium is the message" continues to be prescient. The rise of the Internet and social media has disrupted traditional approaches to marketing and public relations – creating a need for new approaches to content generation and distribution. It takes practice, customer service skills, and the ability to write on the fly. Most firms cannot do it alone – they need a guide to get them started and help maintain their course. IDC talks with a communications veteran to learn how firms can navigate the ever-changing waters of social media.


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Acumatica is holding its 3rd annual Partner Summit in Lansdowne, Virginia this week (Aug 19-23, 2013). Never heard of Acumatica? Well that is about to change. Acumatica, with headquarters in Kirkland, Washington, is one of the fastest-growing cloud-ready ERP solutions in the market. They are laser focused on the small/medium business space with both Acumatica-branded solutions as well as an impressive line-up of OEM partners. There's a lot to like about Acumatica, including its focus on cloud ready ERP for the small-medium business market and its partner strategy.


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Companies have started to capture influence and relevance in new business and communication channels. Key findings from IDC's Social Business Survey, 2013 supports the notion that as companies have become comfortable with using social capabilities, they have begun to focus their energy on driving awareness of products and services. This means that employees, customers, and partners need to find new ways to communicate ideas and experiences around the business and capture ideas and feedback from all relevant constituents.


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The leaders of our organizations, the supporting management teams and our direct managers all play a key role in shaping the way users communicate, the way information is accessed and the way work gets done. This can come through encouraging structured or unstructured conversations to illicit feedback on performance and outcomes, allowing a user to be autonomous in the way they complete a task or project, enabling a user to choose the relevant personal tools that allow users to be more productive in the context of work, there would be some acknowledgement that all users are now expected to do more with less and that the working day can now span 5 to 9 rather than 9 to 5. It is critical for leaders to understand all user productivity cues, workflow, approvals, devices, tools, applications, etc in order to understand where social workflow can be of mutual benefit to the company and to the user. Delivering this mutual benefit drives business value, through measured outcomes and outputs as well as forming the basis of a more engaged, a more productive and a more social business.


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I'm at the IBM Smarter Commerce Summit today in Nashville, Tennessee. The focus of the conference is putting the customer in context, thereby creating a virtuous circle of delighting customers. It's important to note that this is not just about B2C and retail, but crosses all industries (we heard stories today from banking, insurance, and healthcare) and all types of buyers, both business and consumer. It's putting the right information in front of the right customer in the right place, at the right time, and in the right manner. All in an omni-channel interaction that works for me as I am interrupted, change devices, and generally go through my day in my business and personal life, plus converging my digital and physical worlds. One of the tweets on the #smartercommerce stream referred to this as B2ME.


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Coupa, an emerging software vendor of cloud-based spend optimization solutions for mid-size and large enterprises, held its first ever customer summit (Coupa INSPIRE 2013) in San Francisco on April 8-10, 2013. While spend optimization solutions aren't necessarily new, Coupa's approach to expanding the process of managing spend from one limited to the procurement organization to one that engages and involves the entire finance organization demonstrates how social business concepts are changing work in the back office. Currently boasting more than 300 customers in 40 countries, Coupa is doubling the company YOY and adding new products and functionality every quarter. In addition to meeting with the Coupa team at INSPIRE 2013, I also had the opportunity to talk with two of Coupa's partners - KPMG, specifically the Procurement Advisory Practice, and Seal Software, which offers an intriguing Contract Discovery and Analysis solution.


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With the fast adoption of cloud computing a whole new crop of financial technology vendors have emerged and it can be difficult for a financial professional to keep up. Communities like Proformative are popping up to connect like minded professionals to get answers to questions, rate vendors, and come together at events. The ProformaTech 2013 conference was one of those events and provided me an opportunity to catch up a few innovative providers of financial solutions in the cloud - Acumatica, Aria Systems, FinancialForce, Intacct, Kyriba, and RevStream.



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