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Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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Top Stories by Chris Bliss

We review small business CRM software all the time. Sometimes we find great systems. Sometimes not. More typically, we find systems like Base CRM, a well designed and promising system that’s almost there (but not quite). Read on for our full review. The Quick and Dirty Verdict Base is a web-based CRM built by Future Simple, a venture-backed, Chicago based software company. As small business CRMs go, Base is pretty damn good: it’s easy to use, includes some neat features (client spaces!), and boasts an awesome mobile app. Unfortunately, the expensive pricing scheme, lack of calendaring, and limited integrations are all serious drawbacks. We’re giving it an 85/100, a respectable “B” on our grading scale. Read on for details… Functionality = 28/30 Base’s feature list is quite good. Standout features include email integration (you can send and track emails from within... (more)

Client Case Study: When Business Tools Break

I got a call a few weeks ago from a NYC-based foreign language school that was looking for a software makeover. They were using Google Spreadsheets to manage their student, class, and payment information, and for the previous year were happy as can be. After all, Google Spreadsheets offers some awesome collaborative capabilities: simultaneous spreadsheet viewing and editing, universal accessibility, and powerful Excel-like analytics and reporting. Still, as the business grew, the sheer size of the spreadsheet made it more of a headache than anything. As is so often the case, they ... (more)

Software, Surgery and SaaS

Back in my college days I worked at an ambitious and fast-paced non-profit in downtown Portland, OR.  It was an okay job: I was the half-IT/half-everything else guy with too much work and no pay, but I liked the people, and, well, I needed the job. Thing was, I was the IT guy and our software solutions were AWFUL. Without naming names, the email client was awkward and rigid, the CRM was everything that it shouldn’t have been (bloated, insecure, inefficient, confusing), and just about everything else changed from desk to desk. It was a mess that the organization paid for every d... (more)

Cloud Computing and the Horseless Carriage Syndrome

Despite our recent(ish) blog post bashing Microsoft’s cloud initiatives, there’s a nugget of brilliance in “The Economics of The Cloud,” a recent paper published by Rolf Harms and Michael Yamartino, head corporate strategists at Microsoft. It’s a good paper, but the brilliance is in the opening metaphor:   When cars emerged in the early 20th century, they were initially called horseless carriages. Understandably, people were skeptical at first, and they viewed the invention through the lens of the paradigm that had been dominant for centuries: the horse and carriage. The first ... (more)

No Tecknolegy: Five Costs of Inaction, or Why Cloud Computing Makes Sense

It’s easy to always say no. Your systems function, the processes are clear, it works. Why invest in cloud computing if nothing is broken? What’s wrong with inaction? We hear that sentiment all the time and it’s easily understood. Business owners are risk adverse and they don’t want to fall for short-term fads, especially with the backbone of their business (IT). That’s commendable. Unfortunately, when a game changer like cloud computing comes along, undue conservatism becomes increasingly costly. Here’s why. 1. When you overlook meaningful trends you then lend a strong competiti... (more)