Want to Become a Google Apps Authorized Reseller?

Tags

, , , , , ,

Google launched in January of this year a reseller program that allows solutions providers to become Google Apps authorized resellers. That’s a great opportunity for solution providers trying to break into the SaaS (Software as a Service) market.

As a Google Apps authorized reseller, you’ll be able to create unique solutions to help your existing and new customers implement Google Apps for their businesses. And the best part of the program is that Google will have no relationship with your customers. In other words,  the customers are yours… you provide the services… you bill your customers… and Google bills you. Also, as an authorized reseller, you’ll get discounts off the annual Google Apps list price, which might increase your margin compared to what you bill your customer.

Just be aware that, as Google Apps are less expensive than other systems, your margin on the list price might not be as high. However, as a solution provider, you probably already know that the real revenue is not in the application resale, but on the services provided along with the application, which can result in a substantial margin. And to make things even better, because Google Apps are not so expensive, your customers will have extra cushion to spend on other services offered by you.

Curious about how you can take advantage of this program? Well, in the program details, you’ll find a few of the business opportunities available for solution providers, which I have listed below, grouped by the type of service solution provides might be willing to offer.

If you’re interested in recurring revenue and customer relationship, you can try these services:

  • Strategic business process consulting
  • Worry-free management of services
  • Comprehensive support

Now, if you are more of a project-based kind of solution provider, you can try these ones:

  • Data migration
  • User training and best practices
  • Systems integration
  • Application extensions development

And don’t think you’ll be alone on this journey. As an authorized reseller, you’ll have Google support along the way. The list below, that can be found within the program details, gives you an idea of what type of support you can expect from Google:

  • Technical training and reseller support
  • Sales tools and training
  • Marketing programs, collateral, and tools
  • Reseller discount off the annual list price for Google Apps Premier Edition
  • Reseller logo branding
  • Solution provider community forums
  • Integration into the front-line customer support flow
  • Console to create and manage customer accounts
  • Opportunities for other performance-based benefits.

And to make things easier for you, Google has also created the video below to help you decide whether or not this program is right for you. Check it out:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuVUZQCtcbg

Thus, with more and more businesses taking advantage of the cloud for their operations, this program is a great opportunity to solution providers to increase their revenue by help their customers become more competitive.

Finally, POP3 Settings Available for US Hotmail Customers

Tags

, , , , ,

Last week I blogged about POP3 settings for Hotmail not being available for US customers. Well, even though I haven’t read anything official from the Hotmail Team about it, it seems like US Hotmail customers can now take advantage of POP3 settings from any e-mail client that accepts it, such as your iPhone, Windows Mobile devices, Gmail, Yahoo mail, Outlook Express, and so on. For Outlook users, it’s the freedom of having access to your e-mail without using the Outlook Connector. I wrote a post about some issues I faced when installing the Outlook Connector on my Vista Box, so I’m pleased that I don’t have to go through that again.

Here are the settings, retrieved from the Windows Live Blog, to get you going :

  • POP server: pop3.live.com (Port 995)
  • POP SSL required? Yes
  • User name: Your Windows Live ID, for example yourname@hotmail.com
  • Password: The password you usually use to sign in to Hotmail or Windows Live
  • SMTP server: smtp.live.com (Port 25)
  • Authentication required: Yes (this matches your POP username and password)
  • TLS/SSL Required: Yes

Enjoy.. I know I will.

Inefficient Business Processes In My Company? How Come?

Tags

If you have ever undertaken the task of redesign inefficient processes, you have probably, in some point in time, asked yourself why they are inefficient in the first place. In this post, I’ll touch on some of the common reasons inefficient processes are introduced in the companies.

So, how do companies end up with inefficient processes? Three of the most common reasons are listed below:

  • Improvisation
  • Status quo
  • Control mechanisms

Let’s cover each one of the items above, starting with improvisation. How does improvisation create inefficient business processes? Well, sometimes companies don’t have time, capital, or will, to proper model their processes. So, they use the approach I like to call “TAYGO (Tweak As You Go)”. In this approach, employees tweak business processes to meet their needs based on daily feedback from the business without overtaking major analysis.

There’s nothing wrong about updating business processes as long as the update is done with the full business picture in mind. The team redesigning the process must have a complete understanding on how the changes will impact other processes in the organization, and whether or not the changes will actually increase process efficiency. Sometimes these little tweaks are done by employees without any vision of the business beyond their department, which more than likely will affect other departments or processes.

The second item on the list is the status quo, which  is a clear reason for inefficient processes. It’s not unusual for employees to not know the reason they must perform their tasks the way they do. Basically, when an employee C is hired, he/she is trained by employee B, who in turn, has been trained by employee A, who retired from the company years ago. If asked why a task is performed in a specific way, the answer is usually “because it has always been done this way.” In order to really improve a process, companies must be willing to tackle status quo as needed. If there’s no valid business reason for performing a task in a specific way, there’s a good chance that the main process can be improved if redesigned. Remember, processes must be constantly evaluated to ensure they maintain their efficiency over the years; failing to do so increases the chances that the business would be maintaining processes or tasks that could be improved or eliminated altogether.

And finally, control mechanisms, the third item on the list, are usually put in place to ensure processes are consistent and deviations are caught in time to be addressed. Even though control mechanisms are sometimes necessary, companies have to be careful to not overuse them. Too much control can actually affect efficiency, introducing bureaucracy in your processes, and increasing the time it takes to perform them.

For instance, let’s take a process that, in the past, was performed by just one person, from start to finish without any control mechanisms. As the business grows and new employees are hired to help in the process, control mechanisms are introduced to ensure that, within the process, the output of task A, which is performed by employee A, is a valid input that can be used by employee B to perform task B, and so on. By introducing the control mechanisms above, the company has definitely increase the quality of task outputs, but at the same time, it has also increased the time needed to finish the whole process due to the extra time required by the control mechanisms.

Another good example of a control mechanism would be the introduction of manager authorization requirement for specific tasks, such as purchase orders. Even though the authorization requirement gives managers control over what is being purchased and by how much, it also increases the time it takes to purchase the item, mainly due to the non-value-added task of having to wait for the manager to evaluate and authorize the request. A better approach would be to require management authorization only for purchases above a specified dollar amount, eliminating the bureaucracy on less expensive items.

In summary, improvisation, status quo, and control mechanisms are just a few of the common reasons inefficient processes are introduced in businesses. Regardless of the reason, one thing is certain, if inefficient processes are found in your business, these processes had probably not been designed properly, but just put together over the years to overcome business challenges.

Do you have a task or process in your company that could be improved? How?

Microsoft Getting Ready with My Phone Service

Tags

, , , ,

Microsoft is getting ready to provide a service similar to Google Sync, called My Phone. This service will allow users to synchronize data from their mobile devices to a password-protected site.

So far, it sounds like Google Sync (covered in a previous post). However, unlike Google Sync, Microsoft My Phone will allow users to synchronize not only contacts and calendar events, but also tasks, photos, videos, text messages, music, and documents. In addition, My Phone users will also be able to share their photos and videos with friends or save them into their computers.

Sounds good, right? Yes, if you have a Windows Mobile 6 device; so far, My Phone is set to only work on devices with Windows Mobile 6 installed, leaving behind iPhone and devices with other operating systems.

Google Announces Google Sync for Mobile Phones

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Having headaches keeping your contact list and calendar events in your mobile phone synchronized with your Gmail and Google Calendar?

Google has announced Google Sync today, which will allow iPhone and Windows Mobile users to synchronize contacts and calendar events with their Google counterparts (Gmail and Google Calendar Events). Owners of phones that support SyncML will also be able to synchronize their contacts with their Gmail account.

And if you’re thinking all you will get is a one-way synchronization, think twice.. According to Google Mobile Blog:

“Sync uses push technology so any changes or additions to your calendar or contacts are reflected on your device in minutes. The connection is always on so you don’t have to manually sync your phone after Sync has been set up.”

Also, any updates made to the data on your phone will automatically be pushed to your Google accounts, and vice-versa. Users can also think of Google Sync as a way to automatically backup their data to protect against lost or stolen mobile devices, allowing them to restore the data as soon as they get a new compatible device.

The video below will give you an overview of the new service:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kt_-qHczCMg

Here’s the list of mobile devices supported by Google Sync:

  • iPhone
  • Blackberry
  • Nokia S60
  • Nokia standard
  • Sony Ericsson
  • Windows Mobile

Warning: before setting up Google Sync on your mobile phone, make sure you backup your data. As Google Sync uses Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol (press release)  to provide the synchronization, all your contacts and calendar events will be deleted from your phone and replaced by your Gmail and Google Calendar Events.

Enjoy!

Netflix and Xbox 360 reached the one million mark

Tags

, , ,

Last Thursday, February 9, 2009, Microsoft and Netflix announced they have reached the one million mark in downloads and activations of Netflix application on Xbox 360, just three months after their marriage (press release).

I have always thought Netflix had one of the best models available in the entertainment business. Microsoft, on the same hand, was not behind with its Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Gold service. When they decided to join forces in November 2008 and allow their users to streamline movies to their TV sets via their Xbox 360, I was sure we would still hear more from them in the near future.

Basically, everyone benefits from this partnership: Netflix is able to expand its services to TV sets without the expenses and delays of mailing out DVDs; Microsoft makes its product more appealing to consumers by giving them one more reason to choose Xbox 360 over PlayStation 3; and consumers can use a single device that allows them to play games and watch their favorite movies and TV episodes anytime they want. And let’s not forget the increase in revenue by Netflix and Microsoft due to new customers coming on board, and to existing customers from one side signing up for services on the other side.

If Microsoft adds to the Xbox 360 console the ability to play blue-ray movies, and Netflix expands the instant watch movie list to include newer releases, consumers won’t need anything else.

Any other thoughts? Do you use any of these services? If so, do you have any suggestions that would make this partnership even better from your perspective?

POP3 Settings for your Hotmail Account in US? Not Yet!

Tags

, , , , ,

I don’t know about you, but one thing that have always driven me me crazy about Hotmail accounts is the lack of POP3 settings. Without the POP3 settings, I’m basically unable to download my messages using my mobile devices own e-mail software.

When I came across the WindowsLive blog post “A new way to get Hotmail on your phone“, I thought “finally, my life will get easier.” However, the excitement didn’t last long… right on the first paragraph, the team already states that POP3 is only available in the following locations: United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Japan, Spain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.

On the bright side, at least they’re planning on releasing POP3 to other locations throughout the year. I would expect Microsoft services to be released to the rest of the world only after US market had already been serviced, but if we have been forgotten in this first batch, I just hope we’re on the priority list for the next ones.

And you? Do you have a Hotmail account in US? If so, has the lack of POP3 settings for your hotmail accounts affected you somehow?

Microsoft Teams on Twitter

Tags

, , ,

Ever tried to find Microsoft Teams on Twitter, but was never sure it was really them? I have spent a few hours browsing Microsoft website and blogs without any successful results. Well, thanks to Adam Kinney, who took the time to do some extra research and post the results on his blog, we now have a list of some Microsoft teams and products available on Twitter. Just follow those you’re interested in and take advantage of first hand details about your favorite product. Here’s the list… enjoy!

  • @MSWindows (Announcing Windows 7)
  • @WindowsLive (Official Twitter account of Microsoft Windows Live)
  • @liveframework (Liveframework)
  • @livemesh (Sync, share, and access the information you care about—wherever you happen to be)
  • @SharePoint (The official tweetstream of the SharePoint product group – managed by @LLiu)
  • @bizspark (Microsoft BizSpark – Software, Support, Visibility)
  • @zunemarketplace (Zune Marketplace is a store for the way you love music, with brand-new releases every week and a huge selection of music in every style imaginable)
  • @wmdev (Windows Mobile)
  • @microsofttag (Microsoft Tag)
  • @ch9 (Listen to the cockpit, help us fly the plane)
  • @ch10 (Channel 10 is Microsoft’s online community for the technology enthusiast)
  • @ch8 (Microsoft’s community for students)
  • @mixonline (Come check us out at http://www.visitmix.com)
  • @MIX09 (The Next Web Now)
  • @SiteNamedDesire (Want a copy of A Website Named Desire? This li’l birdie will tell you how. Wait for the tweets)
  • @MicrsftTech4All (News from Microsoft Accessibility team, which strives for technology to be usable by everyone & complements our physical & cognitive abilities)
  • @MSDN (Updates from the MSDN site team)
  • @adCenterBlog (News, Tips, Tricks & Best Practices From The Guys At Microsoft adCenter)

Post Update: Extra Microsoft Twitter accounts not included in the original list above.

  • @MSOfficeResKit (Microsoft Office Resource Kit Team. Information and tools for planning, deploying, and managing Microsoft Office)

Do you know of any other Microsoft Team, not on the list above, that is also on Twitter? Let’s us know.

IT Skills in Demand

Tags

, , , ,

Today, I came across the following article on CIO website by Chris Kanaracus (Feb 2, 2009): “Study: Certain IT Skills in Demand Despite Economy“. In this article, Chris covered the results of a study done by Veritude, an IT staffing company, about the IT job market.

According to their recent study, “only 38 percent of companies intend to add staff, down from 52 percent in a previous study.” That’s bad news. However, while some companies actually intend to make cuts, they’re planning on eliminating only about 1 to 5 percent of the staff. When reading about these results, I couldn’t help but ask myself which IT skills would survive the cuts and, better yet, which ones are actually in demand by businesses. Based on the study, the answer is as following:

  • Business Intelligence skills
  • C, C++, and C# programming
  • Mac developers

Based on what I’ve seen in the market recently, these three IT skills are in really demand. Business intelligence is the most obvious skill, which in my opinion, should be mandatory for any IT position. Regardless of which other IT skills you have, make sure you add some sort of business intelligence under your belt; it will take you a long way down the road. I have mentioned the following in a previous blog post:

“Now more than ever, companies are looking for people who are able to help they achieve their goals and make their business more competitive. Truly understanding how business processes fit together and being able to provide effective business solutions are key factors in helping not only businesses, but also yourself, succeed.”

The next set of skills also makes sense as more and more companies are moving in the direction of C-family languages than any other, especially with the success of .NET Framework, which brought C# to developers. Compared to a few years back, when most job postings asked for VB skills, nowadays, it’s very rare to find a job posting not looking for some sort of C-family programming skills.

And finally, after the launch of the iPhone, Mac developers have really been in demand as there aren’t as many as PC developers in the market. Another good news for Mac developers is that Apple’s proprietary platform doesn’t make it so easy for others developers to break into the field. So, if you’re already there, enjoy it!

And you? What do you think? Do you know of any other skills that are certain to survive this economy? Let us know!

PadRight and PadLeft in T-SQL?

Tags

, ,

Have you ever looked for a function in T-SQL just to find out there isn’t anything similar that would help you with meet your goals? Well, today I needed something simple that is usually available as a function or method in most programming language: the ability to pad a string with zeros on the left side up to a specific length.

As you probably already know by the introduction above, I couldn’t find anything similar in T-SQL; so, I had to build one. In fact, because of the similarities, I have actually built two: one that pads on the left and other that pads on the right. The good thing is that it works in the same way as in other programming languages; you provide the string, the character used to pad the string, the total length of the final string, and get back a string the way you want it.

Here’s the first function:

/*
PadLeft() – Returns string with character(s) provided attached to left side of string up to total length requested
Created: 2.4.2009
Author: Sam Moreira (smoreira @ itblognow com)
*/
Create Function fnPadLeft(@i_vString Varchar(50), @i_vChar Varchar(5), @i_iLength Int)
Returns Varchar(500)
As Begin
Declare @mResult Varchar(500)

— Remove Spaces From String
Set @mResult =RTrim(LTrim(@i_vString))

— Check the need to run statements
If (@i_iLength > Len(@mResult) And @i_iLength <= 500)
Begin
— Add character(s) to left side of string
Set @mResult = Replicate(@i_vChar, (@i_iLength – Len(@mResult))) + @mResult
Set @mResult = Left(@mResult, @i_iLength)
End

Return @mResult
End

And here’s the second one:

/*
PadRight() – Returns string with character(s) provided attached to right side of string up to total length requested
Created: 2.4.2009
Author: Sam Moreira (smoreira @ itblognow com)
*/
Create Function fnPadRight(@i_vString Varchar(50), @i_vChar Varchar(5), @i_iLength Int)
Returns Varchar(500)
As Begin
Declare @mResult Varchar(500)

— Remove Spaces From String
Set @mResult =RTrim(LTrim(@i_vString))

— Check the need to run statements
If (@i_iLength > Len(@mResult) And @i_iLength <= 500)
Begin
— Add character(s) to right side of string
Set @mResult = @mResult + Replicate(@i_vChar, (@i_iLength – Len(@mResult)))
Set @mResult = Right(@mResult, @i_iLength)
End

Return @mResult
End

Enjoy!