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Commentary on the latest trends in ERP software - with tips on cloud computing, market structure, and accounting software developments.

Comparing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of SaaS vs. On-Premise

As Cloud technologies continue to evolve, more and more software buyers are seriously reviewing and evaluating software as a service (SaaS) solutions against on-premise offerings. While there are many factors that influence which deployment model is best for any particular business (e.g., ability to manage IT internally and speed of deployment) the cost of the system is often a key factor. But comparing the true cost of a Cloud-based system against an on-premise system can be time-consuming and is often a complex undertaking.

For instance, most buyers understand that on-premise licenses are typically purchased with a large, upfront investment and SaaS licenses are purchased for a relatively cheaper subscription price. But many forget to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) of their investment. That is, they don’t look beyond the licensing costs to consider how other factors such as the need to customize the software and integrate it with existing applications can influence the TCO of their software purchase.

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4 Steps to Managing a Marketing Lead Qual Team

Marketing departments need to become more responsible for the quality of leads that they send to Sales. One way to do that is to ask Marketing to manage their own lead phone qualification process. In doing this, they will become more closely tied to the ultimate outcome of leads they send to Sales.
In order to make this work, however, Marketing departments need to be methodical about who they hire, how they compensate and how the lead qualification process is managed--and improved. Here are four tips for managing this process.
1. Hire at the Junior Level
In any role, hiring the right person is critical. For the role of lead qualifier, you want someone energetic, competitive and willing to a lot of spend time on the phone. And you want them to junior enough to grow into a different Sales or Marketing role. Beyond that, you want someone that can really drive a phone conversation and has the inquisitive nature to to dig beneath the surface to uncover information from the prospect.
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Will Variable Compensation Improve Sales-Marketing Alignment?

Marketing and Sales have long fought over resources, importance and role within an organizations' revenue pipelines. The marketing team is tasked with creating viable leads for the sales team to close on, but "bad leads" often cause finger pointing between the departments. Low-quality leads are said to be the fault of the marketing team, while unclosed leads are often because of the lack of follow-up by sales team members.

In an attempt to improve productivity (read: revenue), leaders are working hard to achieve true sales-marketing alignment. In a recent video on CRMSoftware.TV (click here), Lauren Carlson sat down with HubSpot’s Kipp Bodar and Silverpop’s Eric Holmen to discuss the issue of measuring marketers performance and compensating them for said performance in a business with sales-marketing alignment.

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Holmen notes that for Marketing to effectively align with sales, product marketing must be measured closely on its ability to generate high-quality sales leads.

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The Impact of Measurement on Sustainability within the Supply Chain

A powerful supply chain is indicative of a strong business. Take a quick glance at companies like HP, Apple or Nike to see that being able to deliver a product quickly, affordably and reliably is essential to running a global business.

But as we continue to deplete our planet’s resources, sustainability within the supply chain will become a pressing issue. And for many leaders, it already has. “Today, sustainability has replaced cost, value and speed as the dominant topic of discussion among purchasing and supply professionals,” is what the authors of an Oracle white paper, The Shape of Tomorrow’s Supply Chains, assert.

Realizing sustainability within the supply chain is often directly correlated to how well the company is able to measure its efforts. Richard Bank, Director of the Sustainable Supply Chain Foundation, says that cost-reduction can be driven through sustainability projects, but effective measurement is necessary for these programs long-term success. Only through effective measurement can leaders truly analyze which initiatives resulted in the highest cost-reduction to investment ratio--and why.

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How the Cloud Changes the IT Skill Set

If there's one thing that's abundantly clear in the tech industry, it's that the Cloud is here to stay. The Cloud has matured enough that it's even infultrating business applications--such as ERP MRP software--once thought to be impossible to support in the Cloud.

We all know that the Cloud is changing the way software is purchased and delivered. However, it's also changing the way that IT departments manage applications. By virtue of this of this change, the skill set that companies expect and demand of their IT professionals. In my view, I see five new skills that IT professionals need to develop in order to stay relevant in the Cloud era.
1. Learn the Language of Business
One of the big changes brought on by Cloud computing is the need to interface with the C-Suite to communicate how Cloud technologies will impact C-level priorities. These days, IT professionals can't simply possess technical know-how and operate independent from the rest of the business. It's no imperative that IT professionals know how to communicate technology needs and benefits to a C-Suite that has varying levels of technical expertise. For instance, it may be necessary to explain security how a Cloud application will remain just as secure as an on-premise application.
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Software Is Democratizing Manufacturing

In my role as ERP Analyst at Software Advice (click here), I spend a lot of time thinking about how developments in enterprise software impact manufacturing companies. Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about how some of these technologies (e.g. CAD software, cloud computing, 3D printing) are becoming accessible to the individual.

The technologies that used to be affordable and accessible to only large manufacturing corporations are now within reach of the individual thanks to advances in Web 2.0, open source, cloud computing and other technologies. In my view, this has the potential to shake up the manufacturing industry and usher in an age of personalized manufacturing.

I think we’re living in an age where, thanks to technology, almost anyone with enough savvy and will power can become a manufacturer. While the idea may seem outlandish at first, I think taking a closer look at the technologies available demonstrates just how viable accomplishing this may be. Today, individuals have the following powerful technologies at their fingertips:

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The Cloud Needs UI Standards

If you're like me, you rely on a host of cloud applications to get your job done each day. While the convenience and familiarity of apps built for the Web is great, I can't help but notice the differences among the user interfaces (UIs) I use. Currently, all cloud-based ERP software vendors are approaching the user interface with their own design style. For users that work with multiple cloud apps each day, this can be disorienting - not to mention bad for productivity and usability.

As more products are built for the cloud, I believe that we ought to start thinking about creating a set of standards for what cloud-based applications should look and feel like. Getting there won't easy, so it's time to start talking about creating these standards today.

What's the Benefit of Standards?

Inconsististency in UI design has negative impacts on usability and productivity. It results in having to invest in more user training and can lead to costly user errors. A unified and consistent UI, on the other hand, can boost productivity.

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How Apple is Making It's Mark on Enterprise Software Development

The enterprise is buzzing around the emerging trend of enterprise mobility. According to a recent report by Kelton Research, 9 out of 10 IT managers intended to implement at least one mobile application. A full 50 percent of managers stated that they thought managing mobile applications would be the top priority for this year.

Clearly, the enterprise is anticipating a shift from performing work within the "four walls" of the enterprise to a world in which many of our job functions are performed remotely. To cater to the increasingly mobile worker, enterprise software vendors have started to focus intensely developing for a mobile platform. As enterprise software vendors develop for mobile applications, they're looking to the king of mobile - Apple - for design inspiration.

I see three ways that Apple is influencing enterprise software development. Enterprise vendors are:

  1. Creating a mobile user experience that mirrors that of iOS.
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A History Lesson in Enterprise Software

As people that live and work with technology and enterprise software on a daily basis, it's easy to forget all the effort it took to bring us to where we are today. As we text and download the next coolest app, we forget that we hold more power in our hand than the mainframe computers that used to take up an entire room.

At Software Advice, we decided that the tech world needed a bit of context to couch all the great technological innovations that we have around us today. Our editor, Lara Zuehlke recently did just that. She bravely dove into the last 60 years of enterprise software history to tell the story of how software became so integral to our businesses today. The product of her labors is a four-part series that relays the history of enterprise software and technology innovation itself.

In addition to the great narrative that Ms. Zuehlke put together, she also pieced together an impressive infographic that encapsulates part one of her series, The Origins of Modern Computing. You can find the infographic below.

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Online Accounting Software Trends: CEO Roundtable Takeaways

Though many businesses consider their financial data to be some of the most valuable information they don’t want outsiders privy to, more small and medium-sized businesses are shifting their accounting software from in-house servers to those of software vendors. These online accounting software solutions are easier to deploy than their on-premise counterparts, sold in an inexpensive monthly subscription model, and offer increased collaboration opportunities along with user-friendly interfaces.

As part of our Expert Roundtable series, we reached out to three online accounting software executives to gauge their opinions on industry trends and what they saw for the future of online accounting software. We asked the CEOs at ePartners (a Microsoft Dynamics GP VAR), Intacct, and Kashoo the following questions:

  • What are the current trends in online accounting software?
  • What’s surprised you about the direction of the industry?
  • Who's choosing to adopt online accounting software?
  • What are the benefits in switching to online accounting?
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