Value for Customer

With all the hype and information surrounding cloud, the decision to switch over to the cloud can lead anyone’s mind spinning. The move from a desktop based product to a SaaS based business model requires a specialized provider. This post lists the most important factors that ISV’s should look into before engaging with a service provider.

Business: Assess the business drivers behind considering cloud adoption like moving to a newer business model. If there is no immediate competition then the need to migrate may not be necessary. But if moving to the cloud helps lower the operational expenditure then migration would make sense.

Risk: Switching to the cloud completely changes the business model. What was once a license based business model would become a subscription based business model. Customer service becomes key in success of the product as the switching costs for the customer become very low. Risks in terms of frequent product releases, availability, security become pertinent.

While technology is relevant it may not necessarily be as important as the business and risk factors. Compatibility in terms of infrastructure and application platform helps narrow down the choice in choosing the appropriate technology.


Cost cutting has become the norm these days. The fire for new ideas and new technology seems to be held back. Economic downturns offer unique opportunities to launch innovative new products and services. Within a service company, the biggest challenge with driving innovation is getting everyone involved. Innovation lab may not necessarily be the answer as it limits the responsibility to the sole team. Employees are happy doing their assigned work.

At CI, we do not believe in innovation labs. We believe everyone has the right to innovate and is required to innovate. The strategy is to engage more people in the pursuit of innovation while maintaining a sharp focus on the needs of the business and improving customer satisfaction. Innovation efforts are ties closely with customer satisfaction efforts. When the effort is tied to helping a customer, there is pressure in finding the time and opportunity to think out of the box. So how do we encourage employees to innovate:

  • Openness to innovation – A sense of entrepreneurship among the employees and cultivating ownership among them. Innovation is about taking risks. Efforts matter. When the effort goes great then the employee is responsible. If the effort does not have the expected results then it is everybody’s mistake and not an individual employee’s.
  • New ideas – Not restricting innovation to a group of people has helped foster innovation and have a pipeline of new ideas.
  • Test and Learn approach – Failure is inevitable. One may not be able to avoid failure completely but one can definitely get to failure quickly and cheaply. Assigning a timeline to each of the ideas helps in validating the effectiveness of the same.

What more can be done to increase efficiency? This is one question that is always in the mind of all executives, when they look at the current state of operations. At CI we are always looking at improving our processes.  Our process transformation program consists of the following phases:

  • Process Diagnosis and Scoping
  • Process Definition
  • Process Implementation
  • Process Verification and Validation

How do you improve efficiency? Share your thoughts!

~ Ramya

I recently attended a workshop on ‘How to develop Windows 7 compatible products’. I remembered the new features and how they could be used while developing products for 1-2 days. After a couple of days I was down to wondering which feature will help me add customer value. That’s when I came across the MSDN Blog post on Adding customer value using Windows 7 Features.

I am reproducing the relevant content over here. Original Post is here.

Scenario Windows 7 Features How it adds Customer Value
1 Desktop Application
  • Scenic Ribbon
  • Enhanced Taskbar
  • Gadgets Enhancement
Richer desktop application experience
2 Office Automation / Knowledge Management Application
  • Library
  • File Formats
  • Native Code Support for XPS Document
More convenient for managing Files and Data ; flexible way to compose Office document either via managed or unmanaged code
3 Web Application
  • Federated Search
  • IE8
After adding Windows 7 compatible Open Search API support to your searchable web application , desktop client can create a Search Connector for that web for one-stop search ; IE 8 provides real-world interoperability with other browsers and compatibility for existing sites, makes Web development faster and easier with built-in developer tools.
4 Tablet Application Provider
  • Enhanced Handwriting and Ink
Windows 7 improves the pen experience by providing greater accuracy and speed.
5 Devices Provider
  • Device Experience Platform
  • Windows Biometric Framework
Windows 7 provides device makers with prominent placement on the Windows desktop, with branding opportunities and a simple interface for presenting the functionality and services that the device supports.
6 Multi-Language Applications
  • Extended Linguistic Services
Windows 7 provides developers with a standard method to prepare their applications for the international market by delivering an improved multi-language user interface support and linguistic services that they can use in their applications
Note: Reproduced with permission from Bruce Kyle, ISV Architect Evangelist

Over the past few months, there have been several client visits and I have been going through several presentations. I recently realized ‘Death by Powerpoint’ experience and so decided to do some reading on powerpoint best practices which I thought I would share with you.

I recently read Guy Kawasaki’s ‘Art of the Start’.  I also read Seth Godin’s ‘Really Bad Powerpoint (and how to avoid it)’.

There were few points that stuck with me after reading their books.

  • Powerpoint is a tool for communication. But most people use it as a tele-prompter. The presenters essentially read through the slides.
  • 10/20/30 Rule – No more than 10 slides that last for 20 minutes having 30 font size. I do not completely agree with this rule. This rule is very subjective and the presentation size (number of slides) and time will depend on the topic. The font size will also depend on the size of audience for whom you are going to present.
  • Slides should reinforce your words and not repeat them. I have noticed lots of presenters write down everything that they are going to talk about in the slide itself which also results in  the slides being cluttered. In that case, there is no role for the presenter, it is enough if the audience just reads the slides.
  • Use Bullet Points. Having white space will make the slide look empty but it will definitely assist the viewer in discovering the focus point.
  • Do not use Clip Art. Use professional images. A picture is worth a thousand words. There are several sites that offer royalty free images at no cost.
  • Use transitions / music minimally in your presentation. Personally I hate it when people use transitions. While sitting in a meeting, the audience usually does not have the patience to watch a new block/text in the slide come at a slow pace.
  • Dont hand out print out of your slides. I have noticed that whenever a hard copy is given, people tend to read it whenever the presenter is presenting. So essentially they are not listening to the presenter.

Finally giving effective presentation requires a balance between narrating a good story i.e. quality of the presentation and providing the enough details to support your story. The details should only support the story and not reveal the entire story.

~ Ramya

As a part of our constant drive to keep our clients happy we have started accepting Credit Cards as mode of payment for our products and services from June 1, 2009. This had been one of the requests from many of our valuable clients.

We now accept Visa, Master, Amex, Diners and Discovery Cards. This is one of our many initiatives to make things simpler for emerging software startups.

If you are our existing clients please email us your requests. We will try and implement them.

I have always been writing about the technical teams. In any organization the Sales and Marketing team play a very important role.

Recently myself and my colleague attended Neil Rackham’s Program held in Mumbai, India. In the session Neil asked us a question “Why would the customer write us a cheque for a sales call that you are about to make?” We started analyzing our past successful sales calls and found out one common point. All the sales call were more focused toward creating value for the customers and not just communicating value.

Creating Value for Customer

Generally in the successful Sales Calls, the focus was more on finding out the problem / pain points of the customer and designing a solution before even going to the next stage. This had enabled the customer to understand us better and he knew that we were focused towards solving his problem and we were not just ‘talking brochures’ as Neil puts it.

This strategy also poses a risk of the customer knowing the answer and then going towards a cheaper vendor, but it is a risk that we take.

Well as they say, “Take Risk. If you win you will be happy. If you lose you will be wise.