When bad UI can make your product unsafe

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.  Continue reading “When bad UI can make your product unsafe”

When bad UI can make your product unsafe

What do you get when you buy a startup?

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.  Continue reading “What do you get when you buy a startup?”

What do you get when you buy a startup?

High on Bizzy love…

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… Continue reading “High on Bizzy love…”

High on Bizzy love…

How Small Businesses Can Improve Their Relations With Customers Through Social Media

Also published by Search Engine Watch on September 2 2010

he big question for small business owners five years ago was, “Should I use Google instead of yellow pages to attract new customers?” NowGoogle is commonly used by SMBs and that question gave way to a new one: “Do I need to be using social media?

Social media is a much more complex issue than the Google versus yellow pages debate. With dozens of options, most small businesses can’t decide where to invest their limited time. Many become overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. So, what to do?

Do You Need to Use Social Media? Continue reading “How Small Businesses Can Improve Their Relations With Customers Through Social Media”

How Small Businesses Can Improve Their Relations With Customers Through Social Media

The one thing branding can’t do

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? Continue reading “The one thing branding can’t do”

The one thing branding can’t do

Apple Destroys iPhone Apps Credibility By Encouraging Bad Ratings

I tend to have great level of appreciation to Apple’s ability to design amazing and easy to use products. In most cases, there is a lot of thinking behind each feature, but here is one which is far beyond my understanding: Apple intentionally destroys thirdiphone delete screen party apps credibility by encouraging bad ratings. Continue reading “Apple Destroys iPhone Apps Credibility By Encouraging Bad Ratings”

Apple Destroys iPhone Apps Credibility By Encouraging Bad Ratings

Workday Raises $75 Million- Good Sign for the Business Software World

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. Continue reading “Workday Raises $75 Million- Good Sign for the Business Software World”

Workday Raises $75 Million- Good Sign for the Business Software World