I’ve been building software/internet products for a long time now and always cared a great deal about User Experience and design. Good UI can get your users more engaged, can lead to higher conversion rates, better engagement and overall better user experience. But did you ever think that good UI can make your product safe?
I was watching this TED video today where Avi Rubin, a security expert, explains how everything (from your car to your Pacemaker) can be hacked. It was all very interesting but what I found fascinating was his example about hacking the two way radios that are used by law enforcement officials. These devices, made by Motorola (not known for employing the best in UX…), have an option to encrypt radio transmissions with a switch of a button. As you can see from this image, moving from open air to a secure channel requires 1/8 turn of a multi-purpose switch. When secure, the device is showing an indicator which is few pixels large. Because of this failed UI, 20% of the discussions in the secure channels that were sampled, actually happen in open air. Read the rest of this entry »
SAP acquired my startup in 2002. It was SAP’s first meaningful move to the SMB space and the expectations were high. SAP achieved its goal as our product, now called SAP Business One, became the leading SMB product for SAP, competing and winning against Microsoft, Sage and other market leaders. Since then I acquired two startups, spent some time in a VC, started a company and now I am experiencing it all over again as I help a startup integrate into a much larger company. Doing it, I feel that the first order of business for the acquiring company is to realize what is it that you acquire. Often, it will be bunch of hacks, knowhow and a group of passionate individuals. Once you align your expectations, the chances of getting more out of the deal are much higher. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday I shared with our users that the startup I founded, Bizzy, will be shutting its doors soon. Bizzy was a part of a larger public company so in this sense we did not have the same control over our destiny as a true independent startup has but in any event, closing the doors over something you built and loved is not easy.
There will be time for lesson learned and what’s next. Today, I just enjoy the public and private love we are getting from our users. I mean, it would have been horrible to tell your users you are shutting down and get no one to react… But in Bizzy’s case, we got hundreds of emails, tweets and phone calls from users all over the country and it really helps to keep our collective spirit high… Tomorrow we might wake up with a hang over, but today, I would like to share some of the funny/heart warming responses we got… Read the rest of this entry »
We are planning a branding expertise this week and in the spirit of all good workshops the moderator sent us some pre-work (AKA homework if you ask my kids). One of the questions were:
What are your thoughts on what makes some brands inspirational while others struggle?
In order to answer the question, I listed the brands I like: Apple, Amazon, Virgin Atlantic, SPG and Facebook to name few. When I thought of these brands, I found one thing in common: All are brands I like talking about with my friends and colleagues. A great brand is one that its target audience wants to speak about.
Why does it matter to my branding exercise? Read the rest of this entry »
Workday, a financial and human resources SaaS provider, has secured $75 million in Series E funding. In my humble opinion, this is a very good sign that investments in business software are going to get a boost in the next few years.
Look back 15 years ago and compare the progress in “consumer computing” to the progress in “business computing” – the differences are amazing. Consumers moved from 14K modems to cable, from one inbox per office to unlimited mail accounts and storage, from backing up files on floppy disks to box.net, from from Rolodex to manage their personal lives to Facebook, from expensive and complex Photoshop to Picasa, from mail orders to Amazon and from paper atlas to Google maps. Our lives as consumers are almost 100% digitized now. Read the rest of this entry »
Today’s economy leads to many layoffs across all sectors. According to TechCrunch’s layoffs Tracker, over 132,000 employees lost their jobs from August 2008 in the tech sector alone. Reductions in force (RIFs) are commonplace now but there are few best practices out there when it comes to doing it right strategically. While HR already mastered the process from their side, executives often fail to creatively think of the best way to reduce the number of employees, without destroying the company.
There is a smarter way, but let’s first understand how it is done today. Read the rest of this entry »
The only advice CEOs are getting nowadays is to cut costs and be more frugal. This is a good advice but I don’t think there is any CEO with a pulse that hasn’t heard it before. The other issue with cutting costs is that at best, it will allow you to survive 2009 and show vital signs when the economy is back on track. It would not create a competitive advantage nor will it help you deal with the next crisis or external change in the market place. The real test for a CEO is not cutting costs in time of crisis but rather finding a repetitive way to reinvent her company as market conditions change.
Take Salesforce.com. Not too many companies were able to grow from zero to billion dollars a year in less than a decade. Even mighty SAP took 20 years or so to touch the billion dollar marker. Do you remember how it all started? Salesforce.com started as, yes, sales force Automation company with a very narrow focus and commitment. Later it has expended to become a full CRM package (and picked “CRM” as its NYSE ticker). Nevertheless, in the last 3 years salesforce is becoming a platform company and pushing initiatives like force.com and App Exchange. Without judging the wisdom behind the changes, Mark Benioff built a company with “change” in its DNA. Not only does it want to change every few years, the company knows how to change and it is doing it enough to get really good at it. Read the rest of this entry »
If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse….. Henry Ford
If you are a product manager or product leader- the easiest way to get the job done is speaking with your customers and collect their requests. After all, they are the ones that pay for your salary so just make them happy. Right? Not always.
Henry Ford, the man who invented mass production of cars, summarized his product management philosophy in one sentence, acknowledging that asking customers for product ideas will usually yield ideas for improving the status quo. Read the rest of this entry »