Saasu looking pretty sassy….

CEO Peter Cooper and Founder and Executive Chairman Marc Lehmann have really zazzed up Saasu, and this is an app IMHO going big time. I first signed up for an account ages ago to check it out after following a link from 88miles.net from MadPilot Myles Eftos – also from Perth – (see my earlier post on that product here).

Saasu is accounting software available as a service. I used to use MYOB when running my own business previously, and frankly that takes quite some time to get to grips with.

The Saasu interface has improved a lot from the last iteration, and if you are in the market for accounting and finance software this is one you must put on your shopping list. Solid .Net infrastructure and continually improving the product.

Peter Cooper with Cebit award

I was introduced to Peter and Marc by Gilad Greenbaum whilst at Cebit, and got to have a few cleansing ales with them. Marc is formerly from Perth and was here recently for Barcamp. The photos here are at the Awards night at Cebit. For the second year in a row, Saasu picked up an award, so they are obviously doing something right.

Gilad Greenbaum and Marc Lehmann

I think they are on the money with this offering, so keep your eyes on it.

Cebit owns Darling Harbour 20 to 22 May 2008

Cebit flags

Over 750 exhibitors and 40 000 attendees. For 3 days the red flags of Cebit own Cockle Bay Wharf and the Sydney Convention Centre. Must say I was very impressed with the sheer scale of Cebit in Sydney – over 40000 visitors over 3 days.

Gilad Greenbaum Director IT, Hannover Fairs, has done a wonderful job in setting up the programme at cebit. A highly professional and well connected guy, with boundless energy. A real asset to CEBIT. 

Day 1 of Cebit included lots of great presentations.

Jason Calacanis was most controversial discussed the practical challenges of thinking big enough and having entrepreneurial spirit engrained into people at a young age.

With some Government people on the panel, he was asked what can Government do to assist businesses. His clear perspective was for them to (politely) get out of the way and just don’t add any barriers. His  big idea – which I really like – is to treat entrepreneurs as rock stars and heroes. Award $100000 per year for big ideas,  one per state and get this into schools. Start young. 

Jason highlighted the divide between entrepreneurs that need to take risks and may have to fail once or twice versus Government is not an environment where the shareholders (taxpayers and citizens) want to encourage risk. The cultures are so substantively different.

You can check his presentation as well as many others on the Cebit site 

 

Cebit – Transaction 2.0 and Techramp

Techramp is an exciting one day session as part of the Transaction 2.0 day at Cebit. There is a great cast of first class presenters.  The speakers are people have been there and have got both the scars and rewards to prove it. I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to chair the Techramp sessions.So if you are a startup Web 2.0 business, whatever stage your idea is at now – whether just a concept – or building user base and customers – to making good profits and cashflow – the sessions are designed to address the most important issues you will be facing.  

Entrepreneurial people often like to learn by doing and by asking questions of people that have been there. Techramp is absolutely focussed on the practical rather than theoretical and heavily case study driven. Plus there are panel sessions with loads of time to ask questions and draw on the knowledge and experience of these people that have been along the journey. 

The first session is all about setting the scene – have you got what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how to go about build a winning web business. Is this a road I want to take, and what does that road look like anyway?

The next session discusses the challenges in creating and dealing with rocket growth cycle and marketing a business. It also elaborates on issues such as funding, product development phases and human resource management, as well as technical issues like development environments and project management. Attention will be given to marketing of a new, exciting service or product, and how to get through the “Nuts and Bolts” of every startup (office space, overheads, online billing, hosting and more) – a session every start-up needs as I found it was something that can consume lots of time and distract you from getting on with the main game. 

After lunch TechRamp will get into the some of the technical stuff, with a panel discussion on designing the user experience. This session is so important – if you get usability and design wrong, forget it. Sign up and product ease of use are just critical for to keep sales moving forward and driving satisfied customers. Commercial software where once a deal is done, customers are stuck with it no matter how bad it is. Web 2.0 is much more opt in and opt off like mobile phone plans. Then we will get into the more nitty gritty technical issues, again get this wrong and you are done for.

Transaction 2.0 will be capped with the TechRamp 2008 competition. In addition to recognition, the winning startup will be awarded with an excellent and relevant stack of prizes, on behalf of the TechRamp supporters and sponsors. 

This is going to be an exciting day, and I am looking forward to meeting the people involved. Thanks to Vishal Sharma who will be on the judging panel for the introduction to Gilad Greenbaum, Director (IT) Hanover Fairs… See you in Sydney. 

VC Startups Carnival

carnival.jpg

The Startups Carnival runs from March 3 to 17 2008 and is a great opportunity for those people trying to get a new initiative off the ground in the technology space. With an initial focus towards Web 2.0 / Social Networking but also inclusive of other technology environments, initiatives in green technology, it will be a good opportunity to showcase some of the new great ideas that are on the verge of fruition.

So how does it work? Here is an extract from the Startups Carnival site:

How it works:
It’s an online (web based) carnival, starting on March 3, 2008.
On receiving the applications/registration from various startups/ventures, profiles/information will be compiled in a web format. These profiles /information will be published on the carnival portal, starting March 3, 2008. Three/four profiles will be covered everyday on the portal.

So please keep watching the space and make sure you have got your feeds subscribed as we have some grand plans on this to take it further.

In terms of what participants get are:

  • New ventures learn about other ventures and people behind these across Australia.
  • We are finalizing Judging Panel of 3 to be announced by Monday Feb 18, 2008. The panel is going to judge all the ventures on originality, simplicity, technology and marketability. They will select the top three. They will also provide some suggestions to all participants.
  • We are also working on with some sponsors on offering some form of prizes to the top three ventures and few freebies to others. Once finalized it will be published on site.
  • We are also working on getting some famous global bloggers to write about this initiative and people/ventures who are participating.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited as a judge along with Duncan Riley and Ross Dawson

So if you have a venture, then check it out and be a part of it.

Great timesheet tool

88 Miles

I’ve been looking around at some online timesheet tools and Miles Burke at Bam Creative suggested 88 Miles from Mad Pilot

Having looked at a heap of timesheet tools, this looks like a really good tool – and by good fortune developed in Perth.

Some of the features I was looking for included:

  1. Web based (a given really)
  2. Allow multiple clients
  3. Allow multiple projects
  4. Allow multiple consultants to work on any mix of the above
  5. Provide individual timesheets
  6. Provide team reporting
  7. Be easy to use
  8. Fairly priced

Some new features coming are likely to include additional reporting and adding your own logo to timesheets.

So far I’m impressed and have started using it, worth giving a try….

Great application for Windows Mobile – pointui

Feeling iPhone envy? Yes, not release in Australia just yet….

However, while you are waiting, why not jazz up your Windows Mobile with a fantastic application from Pointui. You can also check it in action at Utube

Pointui Interface

I have downloaded it onto my Dopod D810 and it works great. There is some getting used to the finger movement in the menus and also it dives into the Windows Mobile interface for applications and not always easy to get straight back – but with practice it should be fine.

Pointui is available for FREE download so give it a go

One Month App

I was viewing Eric’s blog and came across the reference to the One Month App which was interesting project to determine if an application could be built in a month. They have used the Ruby on Rails framework and developed a nice looking cashflow application for small businesses.

Top marks for a clever marketing idea – both in getting some interest in the application, but more so, demonstrating that the guys at Clearfunction have got both a sense of style and an ability to churn out a great new application quickly. And no doubt they have plenty of click throughs to their site and their other products.

So, where are the other applications of this type of approach??  Could we see books written this way? Will we see commercial software sent to the global market for testing? Your comments are welcome, as well as useful links…..

Huge people challenges and opportunities

In the last few days and in various meetings I have had, it has clearly reinforced the challenge of getting people on the bus with software and information management initiatives.

Nowhere is this more difficult than in the growing beasts that are international companies. No longer does the mantra apply “think global, act local” explicitly in relation to software and systems, as organisations seek to refine the best of the knowledge they have into common ways of doing things.

So, there are some barriers to break down:

  1. Not invented here. Obvious enough problem… but confounded further with Point 2.
  2. The system we use was invented here, in fact, I invented it…. compounded further with…
  3. I like the way our company did things before the takeover…. compounded further with…
  4. Those guys are in another part of the world, and they think differently to us (these types of cultural differences are very real)

For more reading, see my post on people, process and technology.

The Next Wave in Personal meeting Business Computing

Last week I met Michael Grey, Supply Chain Evangelist for Dell. We were chatting about future technologies given the incredible leaps that have occurred in computing over the last 30 years, with significant waves of change including:

  • widespread use of mainframe computing
  • proliferation of desktop computers
  • ubiquitous internet
  • Web 2.0 / mashups versus SOA – to allow the connection of web based software to share data in a secure manner

With all this change I was interested in what was next.

One of the points he raised was the issue of people becoming far more attached to their own computer than wanting to use a company one (which typically would be inferior to their own personal machine).

It raises a whole heap of issues:

  • Ability to provide support for multiple machine types (various manufacturers and editions of software)
  • How to maintain a Standard Operating Environment – an SOE reduces risk and cost in support
  • How to limit the company from risk should someone’s computer have pirate software or songs, or illicit material
  • Does setting up VMWare cut it? (VMWare is virtual machine software – basically like running a clean install of all software and documents. You then have two versions of an operating system on one machine. Also really great if you want to run two operating environments eg Mac OSX and Vista).
    If a company turns a blind eye to other information on a computer, is the company at risk?
  • Is the individual at greater risk as a result of connecting to a company environment?

In some respects, putting an appropriate policy in place can work provided it is audited regularly for compliance. And automated tools can validate the legitimacy of information held on a laptop, and most likely companies will stipulate that the individual warrants that everything they hold is legal.

Without automated tools to validate the legitimacy of information held on a laptop, it is unlikely that a policy will be enough. Most likely companies will stipulate that the individual warrants that everything they hold is legal – but active checking on the compliance with policy, and records that indicate as such, are likely to be mandatory. The only other alternative is a blanket no – not something that today’s breed of knowledge workers from all generations like to hear.

Either way it is new ground.

So, what should you do?

1. Define where the highest levels of demand for connecting personal machines are
2. Identify and develop a policy and get explicit signoff
3. Put in place auditing measures
4. Trial and monitor

If you have been through something like this or are about to, please post a comment and let me know your views.

People, process and technology – enter Enterprise 2.0

I’ve got to say I have an interesting concern – but a sense of delight at the possibilities – about the speed and capacity of change of Enterprise 2.0. Let me explain…

In the world of application development, there is a serious and mounting argument from the rapid development / iterative prototyping camp versus the waterfall (requirements, design, build, test, deploy, support) purists. When it comes to applications that affect corporations – that is, across the enterprise – I am a firm believer in the latter.

Iterative development is great when there are only a few people involved – or a small point solution that only affects a few people. When you start getting more people involved, the challenges go up.

The challenges include:

  • People – commitment to using a new process and a new underpinning system – and a common way of doing so
  • Process – is the process we are using common to all? Do we all do our own thing?)
  • Technology – solid analysis of the problems and a clear view of how to resolve them with technology

Now with Web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0, the beauty is that these applications are breaking new ground in making the process neatly tied up in the applications and making it really simple for people to follow the process without having to think too much about it – or having to refer to training manuals or help guides. However, the ease of picking one up, configuring them differently according to different needs – but at the same time missing the opportunity to apply them consistently is the challenge.

The takeaway points to consider:

  • If you are going to go for a Web 2.0 application, do document your processes and make sure people apply it consistently within the organisation
  • Software developers can learn from the myriad of Web 2.0 projects smart ways of developing inviting interfaces and very simple and fast sign up and use approaches
  • The next raft of successful enterprise scale applications from the Web 2.0 environment will make a dent on traditional software only when sold, implemented and supported like enterprise software

All comments welcome!