Friday, 28 May 2010

Which social networking site is right for me?

OK well given that Facebook is the leading social networking site at the moment and looks set to be for a while to come, it is obviously the most logical place to add your business from a general networking point of view. But is it the right place for your business?

Now, Facebook is something of a playground and is more suited to a charismatic business - like us for example. We mix business with a subtle brand of humour and fun that may not be appropriate for some companies. Take accountants for example; everybody knows that accountants have no charisma whatsoever so Facebook probably isn’t right for them. Also, who would want to become a fan of an accountant? Imagine the status updates… “is loving year end”, “is net of vat”, “is sore from doing double entry…”

So what about Linkedin? This is a social networking site in its own right but specifically for the business world. It is like Facebook but without Farmville, Mafia Wars or those annoying friends who inform you of their bowel movement. In other words, this is the place to be if you are a serious business looking for professional networking contacts.

Facebook is useful for getting your name out there and showing people that you are a modern company who can move with the times. Linkedin is more of a professional service and is more likely to generate legitimate commercial recognition for you.

There are others as well like Plaxo and Ecademy, which are really the MySpace and Bebo of the business social networking scene. In other words they are probably worth registering accounts with them just to expand your reach a bit more but don’t expect anyone to look at it!

So what is my advice here? Well, I would say join all of them. We have!

Disclaimer: All accountants are lovely people and super fun to be around. Especially ours!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Flash: Saviour of the Universe?

Being a kid in the eighties, I used to wear shell suits. They were all the rage back then in the same way that psychedelic flared trousers and afros were fashionable in the 1970’s. Still, nobody wears them now do they? Well not unless you’re a scouser. This is because the fashion world is a very fickle place and changes so quickly.

The web is no different to the fashion world from this point of view. Back in the early noughties, Flash was all the rage. The things you could do were great: Pages would sing to you when you opened them, buttons would beep at you when you pressed them and logos would spin around. It really was wonderful.

Over time, however, just like that old Spliffy jacket I begged my mum to spend a fortune on in the 90’s and only wore for a week, people started to get bored with it and moved on to the next fickle thing.

Now there is an even bigger problem for Flash. What is the latest fashion accessory? That’s right; the iPhone. And what have Apple categorically said they are not going to support? That’s right; Flash.

Still, there are people who are spending a fortune getting Flash websites designed and built. Not only are these sites notoriously rubbish from a search engine optimization point of view because there is nothing for Google to see but they won’t work for the 41 million people who browse the web on their iPhone. In other words, by having a site built in flash you are telling the majority of your visitors, in the words of MC Hammer (who was fashionable back in the early 90’s) “You can’t touch this”.

Now what ever happened to him?

The screenshot above, as provided by our very own Peter Banks (view his blog here) shows you what your visitors will see if they try to view a Flash website on an iPhone. A bit pointless really isn't it?

Also, on the subject of fashion sense, the wonderfully charismatic boss of Datapartners was kind enough to give me a laugh this morning by showing how much his fashion sense has degenerated... sorry... improved since the 70's.

Calling it a solution is not the solution

If there is one thing I can't stand it is the growing use of the term "solutions" in business. It's everywhere now. I no longer design and build websites; I now build integrated web-based solutions.

Now, a solution is defined as a homogeneous mixture of two or more substances; frequently (but not necessarily) a liquid solution. It can also be defined as a statement that solves a problem or explains how to solve the problem.

It also sounds jolly good doesn't it? The word "solution" sounds very poncey and makes things sound better than they actually are. However, I think it's going a bit too far now. I walk past a van every day and it never fails to make me shake my head in giggle at the pretentiousness. I even took a photo which demonstrates my point perfectly: Vegetation and Asset management? Is the word "gardener" not sufficient?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Electronic evoicing good. Marketing bad

The European Commission recently told us all that we should be using electronic invoicing. They reeled off this nice long list of reasons why everybody should do what they say because they always know best.

For once, however, they didn’t make me want to put my fist through the television screen because, for once, they are right. The fact that some people still send things by post baffles me. Believe it or not there are a scarily large number of people who still use fax machines. Now, I’ve been in the working world for over a decade now and I am proud to say I’ve never used a fax machine in my life. Why? Because this is the 21st century not 1981!

Anyway, back to electronic invoicing. It is good and it is the way forward. It is something that we at Datapartners have been doing for…well. 10 years.

After years of being on the shelf gathering e-dust, we have recently started rolling a beta version of our Evoicing Pro product. It is currently being beta tested by some of our faithful guinea pigs and we reckon we’ll have it rolling out to buy fairly soon.

Like all of our apps, it fully integrates with the others so it can be used in conjunction with the Webshop, Mailermatic, e-CRAM, Clickmachine, Blahwagon and all our other related products and services.

So, if we were pioneers of electronic invoicing, why are we not multi-millionaires and why have we not been bought by Google yet? Well basically it is because we are pretty rubbish at marketing ourselves. We are fundamentally very modest – I mean we know we’re geniuses but we don’t like to brag. So if you can help us market Evoicing, please send us your CV but do email it don’t send it by post or fax!

Seriously, for more info on our Evoicing app and to request to become a Beta tester, click here.