Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

SAP customers would rather do business elsewhere?

I just read, Buy SAP again? 60% of customers say no, says Nucleus Research. SAP isn’t pleased but made clear that they don’t participate in this particular report (presumably they do for Gartner/Forrester/IDC).

Besides the opportunity for others playing in the space SAP plays in, I am reminded by how a humble research firm (Iceberg Research) brought Noble Group down – Singapore Noble Group Rejects Iceberg Research’s Claims, Nobbled, How Richard Elman’s Noble Empire Crumbled (when this was written, its share price dropped 75% since the research report). This wasn’t the case for SAP (Noble lost 9.5% the day the report came out), and may not be (who knows).

As an aside, it regularly shocks me that people don’t realise that when it comes to analyst firms, the whole game is “pay to play”. You pay a sum of money, you get to speak to their analysts, the analysts get to query your customers, and boom, a report is produced. Firms tend to be clients of analyst companies.

Spotify and the App Store

Via Recode, Spotify says Apple won’t approve a new version of its app because it doesn’t want competition for Apple Music.

Why is this surprising to Spotify? Amazon has a Kindle app on the App Store but doesn’t sell books inside said app. Its Apple’s App Store, you play by their rules, no?

I read the New York Times which presumably allows you to subscribe via the app, but I log in via my account since I have a direct relationship with them. I read the Financial Times, and they didn’t want to play by the App Store rules – they’re a full-featured HTML5 application.

Maybe Spotify should take heed from the FT and invest further in play.spotify.com? (The spec obviously support it, since Rdio had a browser based interface before Spotify did; I don’t know the status of how mobile browsers handle it.)

Personal shopper services (and the SQ plane fire)

I cannot imagine what it is like to be on a plane that has engine problems and catches fire upon landing. I’m glad everyone (222 passengers, 19 crew) are safe.

I was just taking a long haul flight myself and wondering why they bother showing the safety video, since these days you don’t really find the need for such things (planes disappear; they crash; you rarely hear about how putting on one’s lifejacket saved your life).

As an aside, a lot of the photos (and a video) seem to come from a Ms. Lee Bee Yee, who was presumably flying to Milan to perform “personal shopping” services (she is the proprietor of a site called Premium Mall). A simple search of her name reveals that she’s been 43 for quite sometime! Emerging Trend of Online Retailers Attempting to Evade GST Jan/Feb 2015, Singapore Airlines plane catches fire on Changi Airport runway; no injuries reported. I’m sure there are such “personal shoppers” operating in Malaysia too; I can only imagine what happens when customs catches up.

The Star in Malaysia recently reported that the future might be personal shoppers, in Parkson’s decline a sign of the times for retail stores. The whole article is worth a read, because Malaysia in this respect, seems “backwards” to what is taking much of the retail world by storm (key: nationwide e-commerce needs to rock; too much just focus on the Klang Valley). But the fancy quote for one to think about:

The future wave could be the birth of “personal shoppers” where they shop for others for a fee.

A “personal shopper” acts as a conduit to connect individual purchasers with online websites in other countries such as the United States that do not provide delivery services of their products to this part of the world.

The personal shopper takes down orders, secures an appropriate price and sources for the products in a foreign country. The personal shopper then handles the delivery from the foreign country to the customer.

And it is all done at a fraction of a cost compared to what the boutiques charge.

At the moment, celebrities generally engage the services of “personal shoppers” also known as “personal groomers” to source for their clothes.

In recent times, services of “personal shoppers” have been engaged by professionals and the working crowd to get the best bargains from the Internet.

On numbers and getting out there for business

Sidney Toledano (a student of math & engineering, now boss of Dior Couture), via Lunch with the FT:

‘If business is not good, don’t stay in the office’. Some people try to find out what’s wrong through the numbers. But if you stay in the office, nothing will change.”

For a mathematician, Toledano is casually dismissive of too much financial analysis. “My father taught me it’s better to have no explanation for success than a lot of explanations for a failure. Success is intuition, action, decision and take some risks. Frankly, numbers; I see them every day when I get the worldwide update. I can see every single figure for every single piece. But I don’t spend more than 10 to 15 minutes on it because I follow them every day.

“It’s like a good doctor. They see the numbers very quickly — temperature, whatever — but they talk to the patient. I’ve never seen a doctor fixing a problem with a thermometer. And you never fix a problem with the numbers. Don’t look and you miss everything.”

Tips from Paul English on work & management

Via The Way I Work: Paul English of Kayak.

I get about 400 to 500 e-mails a day, and I probably send about 120. At any given moment, I’ll have only 10 items in my inbox. When an e-mail comes in, I read it and decide immediately: Delete, reply, or delegate?

Customer emails? Let everyone see them. Because when an engineer sees the same query coming in a few times, they’ll stop and fix the code. This makes a lot of sense – which is why in traditional organisations, the support organisation needs to be tightly coupled to the engineering organisation. I’ll throw in the sales engineering organisation to this too.

Diversity of success, style, thinking and language – hire for that. 

A lot of companies have the “no assholes” rule. So if the greatest programmer ever is also a jerk, he’s fired. Our rule is “no neutrals.” So when the new guy walks down the hall, is my team drawn to him? Or do they divert their glance? If they divert their glance, we fire that person. I call it the hallway test, but it’s more of a conceptual thing. The idea is when you put superstars together, you can ask, “What did you do today that excited the people around you and made them better at their jobs?” If you can’t give examples, I don’t want you here.

Favourite metric? Revenue per employee.

Cancelling Basecamp? They issue refunds!

I was really impressed by cancelling my Basecamp account — they have an interesting refunds page. Keep in mind that it wasn’t Basecamp that I didn’t enjoy using (I love the entire suite); projects that I had used it for were pretty much over, so I just wanted to export the data, verify it was good, and then stop using it. Most of what I do can be done quite easily in OmniFocus, OmniOutliner, and Evernote (and there is Google Drive for collaboration). Chat has mostly been outsourced to Slack.

Anyway, long story short, I opted to cancel my account recently. I was pointed to the refunds page. I learned this:

If you forgot to cancel Basecamp a couple months ago, and you haven’t used Basecamp since then, we’ll give you a full refund for a few back months. No problem.

Wow. So I emailed their support, and it turns out they can provide refunds for up to six months if you didn’t use Basecamp much (yes, they also do partial refunds). This is amazing. I’m not sure how confident any other SaaS company is when it comes to refunds, but this puts the customer first, and Basecamp gets it right.

Next time I have a project, I will signup at Basecamp, with confidence.


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