Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Three Big Mistakes You Could be Making with Your Customer Loyalty Program

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Three Big Mistakes You Could be Making with Your Retail Loyalty Program

There’s good news and bad news about customer loyalty programs. First, the good news: Customers who belong to retail loyalty programs generate significantly more money for retailers than other customers do, according to a study by Accenture Interactive. Now, the bad news: Many retailers are focusing on the wrong things when it comes to their customer loyalty programs. Here are three common mistakes retailers make when it comes to loyalty programs, and what you can do instead to make them right.

Retail Loyalty Program Mistakes

Mistake #1: Not Measuring ROI

Fewer than 20 percent of retailers in the survey say return on investment is a key factor in evaluating the success of their loyalty program. Instead, the study found, retailers are focused more on metrics related to growing and maintaining their loyalty program membership. Some 45 percent measure membership growth rates, 42 percent measure the percentage of transactions by loyalty members and 36 percent measure the number of transactions by loyalty members. In addition, 40 percent focus on measuring the retention rate for loyalty programs.

Make it Right: Sure, you should be measuring all of the data above. However, ROI is where the rubber meets the road. Boil down all of your retail loyalty program metrics to determine whether your investment in a loyalty program is paying off. Assess the costs of your retail loyalty program, both in terms of the fees for the program and the costs of running and promoting it, and compare that against the sales that result from it.

Mistake #2: Not Differentiating your Loyalty Program Enough

More than seven out of 10 retailers in the survey believe their retail loyalty program is either “differentiated” or “significantly differentiated” from their competitors’ programs. However, few customers feel the same way. Research cited by Accenture shows that about one-third of loyalty program members also shop at competing retailers, and 44 percent say the competition’s loyalty program could easily replace the other retailer’s program.

Make it Right: Monitor what your competitors are offering when it comes to loyalty programs. You may even want to sign up for the programs (or have a family member sign up, if you’re worried about being obvious) so you can see how they work “from the inside.” Is there something missing from your competition’s programs that you could offer? How can you differentiate your retail loyalty program from theirs? Use all the marketing methods at your disposal to educate customers about the value of your loyalty program. Promote it in print ads, on social media and in your email communications. Even talk it up when ringing up sales at the checkout counter.

Mistake #3: Not Keeping Up with Technology

Sophisticated digital loyalty programs are now available to even the smallest business. Many of them include additional features that help you market to loyalty program members in a more personalized way. With many customers using their smartphones through every stage of the shopping process, it often makes sense for retailers to use digital loyalty programs with a mobile component. However, four in 10 retailers in the survey say they struggle to keep up with mobile and digital loyalty technology. The same percentage say finding enough in the budget to invest in loyalty program technology is a challenge.

Make it Right: Do your homework to investigate the variety of digital loyalty programs out there and which one will work best for your retail business. Take your customers into consideration, too. If they’re young early adopters, your program needs to be mobile so customers can do everything from their phones. If most of your customers are older and not so smartphone-reliant, a mobile app may not matter as much. However, that doesn’t mean you can stick with old-fashioned punch cards. Today’s teens are tomorrow’s middle-aged parents, and they’ll be taking their tech habits into the future, so the time to catch up with loyalty program technology is now.

Loyalty Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Three Big Mistakes You Could be Making with Your Customer Loyalty Program” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Going Mobile is More Important and Affordable than Ever

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Creating a Mobile Application for Your Small Business is More important and Affordable than Ever

Some small businesses are still not fully tapping into the greatest marketing opportunity of our time: the Internet. Many businesses now have a website and can interact with potential consumers via desktop, but these businesses are still behind the ball because increasingly, online traffic is being conducted through mobile phones. Small businesses are missing out because they either:

a.) Do not have a mobile optimized website or

b.) Do not have a mobile application.

Last year, Google updated its search algorithm to favor mobile friendly websites for mobile Google searches. To mobile-friendly businesses, this was a good thing, but according to eMarketer, 48 percent of small businesses are not mobile optimized and their search listings on mobile have dropped as a result.

Mobile traffic is on the rise. Back in 2014, comScore reported that smartphones and tablets already accounted for at least 60 percent of all online traffic. While much of this traffic was going to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram even at that time, an estimated 35 percent of organic website traffic came from mobile devices too. So in 2016, a small business ignoring the rising popularity of mobile would be missing out on a tremendous and growing market.

What’s more, the study concluded that 50 percent of online mobile traffic originated from mobile apps, another trend small business owners should be watching. Still, many small businesses are often afraid of the high price of a developer to build their mobile app Fortunately, there is a much more affordable option out there that many users aren’t aware of: do-it-yourself (DIY) application software or app creators.

More and more businesses are turning to DIY apps because they are cost effective and easy to create. DIY apps are made with drag and drop templates and do not require any specially technical skills to construct. The software can be bought with a monthly subscription that gives business owners access to all of the software’s features.

Comparing some of the top DIY app builders, the average monthly subscription is about $62 ($744 a year), which is much cheaper than the average cost of a custom app. A custom mobile app typically requires hiring a developer who charges somewhere around $100 an hour, for a project that, at a minimum, will likely take 250 hours to complete. That’s $25,000 on the low end.

Small businesses will likely find that a DIY app is a more efficient and cost effective approach than developing a mobile friendly website. DIY apps can do everything that a web app can, including integrate with social media and eCommerce, and send push notifications. A DIY app maker can be used to create more personal interactions with customers by providing loyalty systems and rewards for customers who download the app. DIY apps are a great choice for a business with a small, but loyal client base.

Conclusion: Why You Should Consider Building a Mobile Application

It is important for small businesses to understand the value of the mobile app audience. Most trends suggest that consumers will continue to shift to mobile as their modality for surfing the internet and purchasing goods. To stay competitive, small businesses need to address this growing market and work to put mobile first.

Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Going Mobile is More Important and Affordable than Ever” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Going Mobile is More important and Affordable than Ever

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Creating a Mobile Application for Your Small Business is More important and Affordable than Ever

Some small businesses are still not fully tapping into the greatest marketing opportunity of our time: the Internet. Many businesses now have a website and can interact with potential consumers via desktop, but these businesses are still behind the ball because increasingly, online traffic is being conducted through mobile phones. Small businesses are missing out because they either:

a.) Do not have a mobile optimized website or

b.) Do not have a mobile application.

Last year, Google updated its search algorithm to favor mobile friendly websites for mobile Google searches. To mobile-friendly businesses, this was a good thing, but according to eMarketer, 48 percent of small businesses are not mobile optimized and their search listings on mobile have dropped as a result.

Mobile traffic is on the rise. Back in 2014, comScore reported that smartphones and tablets already accounted for at least 60 percent of all online traffic. While much of this traffic was going to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram even at that time, an estimated 35 percent of organic website traffic came from mobile devices too. So in 2016, a small business ignoring the rising popularity of mobile would be missing out on a tremendous and growing market.

What’s more, the study concluded that 50 percent of online mobile traffic originated from mobile apps, another trend small business owners should be watching. Still, many small businesses are often afraid of the high price of a developer to build their mobile app Fortunately, there is a much more affordable option out there that many users aren’t aware of: do-it-yourself (DIY) application software or app creators.

More and more businesses are turning to DIY apps because they are cost effective and easy to create. DIY apps are made with drag and drop templates and do not require any specially technical skills to construct. The software can be bought with a monthly subscription that gives business owners access to all of the software’s features.

Comparing some of the top DIY app builders, the average monthly subscription is about $62 ($744 a year), which is much cheaper than the average cost of a custom app. A custom mobile app typically requires hiring a developer who charges somewhere around $100 an hour, for a project that, at a minimum, will likely take 250 hours to complete. That’s $25,000 on the low end.

Small businesses will likely find that a DIY app is a more efficient and cost effective approach than developing a mobile friendly website. DIY apps can do everything that a web app can, including integrate with social media and eCommerce, and send push notifications. A DIY app maker can be used to create more personal interactions with customers by providing loyalty systems and rewards for customers who download the app. DIY apps are a great choice for a business with a small, but loyal client base.

Conclusion: Why You Should Consider Building a Mobile Application

It is important for small businesses to understand the value of the mobile app audience. Most trends suggest that consumers will continue to shift to mobile as their modality for surfing the internet and purchasing goods. To stay competitive, small businesses need to address this growing market and work to put mobile first.

Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Going Mobile is More important and Affordable than Ever” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Skype Meeting Broadcast Will Get Translation, Transcription Features

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Skype Meeting Broadcast Will Get Translation, Transcription Features

A communications tool used to facilitate online meetings will soon have the capabilities to translate the remarks of participants and preserve a written transcript of what was said. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced last week at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto that it would be adding automatic transcription and translation for Skype Meeting Broadcast.

Certainly, being able to communicate with anyone around the world without the barrier of different languages has clear business advantages. But real-time translation has been, and still continues to be, one of the biggest challenges in the IT sector. Although some great developments have been introduced introducing some innovative products for real-time translations, there is still a ways to go before it is perfected.

The translation that will be part of Skype Meeting Broadcast won’t be available until the end of 2016, and there is very little information as to what languages are going to be supported. However, using Skype Translator as a measuring stick, it can be assumed there will be at least seven languages and possibly more. What we do know for sure is, this new feature will provide live closed captioning during presentations, thus allowing users to choose the language they are most comfortable with so they can participate.

Whether your company is a global enterprise or a small business looking to deliver services globally, the presentations, webinars, lectures or lessons you present will be able to attract a global audience. The technology will also give individuals who are hearing impaired a great way to participate in real-time meetings and presentations instead of waiting for transcriptions at a later time.

So what is Skype Meeting Broadcast?

Skype Meeting Broadcast was released in 2015 as part of Office 365 and Skype for Business Online, for producing, hosting and broadcasting meetings to large online audiences. It enables you schedule meetings for up to 10,000 people by using the Skype Meeting Broadcast scheduling and management portal. People that attend the meeting can participate, and they can do so on any device no matter where they are located.

Here’s a closer look at how the technology works:

There are some requirements for the different components of the platform. Attendees will need browser enabled devices with Internet Explorer 11, Chrome, Firefox, OSX Safari, iOS 8 or later and Android (KitKat). Producers and presenters of the meetings require Skype for Business client for Windows and a Skype for Business Online Standalone Plan 2 (or 3), or enterprise E1, E3, or E5 license.

In a world that is getting more connected and interdependent on each other, language still represents a formidable barrier. Skype Meeting Broadcast looks to make it much easier with automatic transcription and translation of different language.

Image: Skype

This article, “Skype Meeting Broadcast Will Get Translation, Transcription Features” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Here’s a Peek at the Future of Crowdfunding Through 2016 and Beyond

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Here's a Peek at the Future of Crowdfunding News Through 2016 and Beyond

It’s no secret that crowdfunding has transformed itself from an indie fundraising platform for personal projects to a complete corporate validation tool. But given the considerable evolution the concept has already undergone, what can we expect for its future?

First, The Crowdfunding News

According to crowdfunding research firm Massolution, crowdfunding grew 167 percent in 2014. To put that into dollars, crowdfunding platforms raised $16.2 billion in 2014, escalating to $34.4 billion in 2015. For 2016, crowdfunding trends are predicted to pass VC funding for the first time.

Crowdfunding isn’t just an industry — it’s an industry disrupter. We hear a lot about the new developments in equity crowdfunding, but there are other less-talked about crowdfunding markets as well that are emerging as fierce competitors in their industries. Here’s a look at the future of crowdfunding through 2016 and beyond.

Equity Crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding was once reserved for only the wealthiest investors, but today is open to everyone. In the past, only accredited investors with $200,000 a year in income, or those who are worth over $1 million, could invest. Theoretically, that changed when President Obama signed the JOBS Act four years ago, though it was only recently that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission finally opened the door to mainstream equity crowdfunding.

As implemented, these rules mean that startups can now sell up to $50 million worth of stock online in a 12-month period to anyone who wants to invest, opening the door for small businesses like restaurants and family-owned shops to raise funding.

That said, not everyone is singing the praises of the new SEC’s ruling. While the change allows startups to get up-and-running with raising money quickly, there is a pervasive risk of failing to comply with the rules. According to Forbes, equity crowdfunding campaigns must disclose a range of information, including how they determine the price of the securities sold, financial statements, possible tax returns and more. It remains to be seen whether or not fledgling start-ups will struggle with non-compliance issues under these new restrictions.

Retail Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding moves into big fashion and the retail sector with the launch of Crowdemand. Ordinarily, fashion designers and manufacturers must either secure private funding or foot the bill themselves to bring a design to market. While they typically must then wait and hope it sells well, if it flops, they’re left on their own to try to recoup the cost.

Instead, Crowdemand offers exclusive designs for pre-order at a 50 percent deposit upfront. Once the designs are completed, customers pay the remainder. This allows fashion designers to test the popularity of their designs, secure funding for their completion and pre-sell them to an audience. Noted designer Cynthia Rowley is one of the platform’s supporters and uses it to debut and sell her exclusive creations.

Corporate Crowdfunding

In its infancy, crowdfunding was about raising money for music albums and personal projects. However, in the last several years, we have seen entrepreneurs validate and fund their prototypes to bring their ideas to market. For example, the Pebble E-Paper Watch Kickstarter campaign was one of the most successful of its kind, raising $10,266,845. Now, corporations are looking to leverage crowdfunding for their own prototypes, research and funding.

Recently, the BBC reported that Indiegogo plans to market its crowdfunding platform to major firms. Their aim is to help companies crowdfund their research ideas, while enticing customers to fund their favorites. This could usher in an era of corporate market research being done through public validation, support and pre-orders before ever hitting the mainstream. Currently, Indiegogo’s new crowdfund program is only open to Fortune 1000 and Global 500 companies, with fees that would be prohibitive to smaller firms.

Real Estate Crowdfunding

In the past, the commercial real estate industry was reserved for investors with millions of dollars to bring a strip mall, apartment complex or even storage unit facility to life. Today, real estate crowdfunding is catching on, with sites like RealtyMogul.com, which has raised more than $200 million on their online platform to date.

RealtyMogul.com makes it possible to crowdfund a real estate property for as little as $5,000. Investors can also use the platform to browse for debt or equity investments, invest online and track their performance from a centralized dashboard.

Crowdfunding Insurance

In May 2016, American International Group (AIG) announced the launch of crowdfunded insurance to help protect equity crowdfunding platforms. The first of its kind in the industry, AIG currently only sells coverage to platforms it feels has the appropriate checks and balances in place. Its first policyholder is the crowdfunding platform Eureeca, which is poised to offer insurance protection to all investors using its portal.

If AIG is successful, we’ll likely see more crowdfunding insurance players entering the market, starting with large scale equity fundraising projects. Over time, more policies will trickle into small platforms, perhaps offering the kinds of a la carte services that enable sellers to pick and choose the coverage that makes the most sense for smaller investors.

What are your predictions or hopes for the future of crowdfunding? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Crowd Funding Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Here’s a Peek at the Future of Crowdfunding Through 2016 and Beyond” was first published on Small Business Trends

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5 Tips for Attracting Angel Investors

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

How to Get Angel Investors - 5 Tips

If you’re considering seeking funding to either launch or grow your business, angel investors are one potential source of financing worth considering. But realize: angel investors get pitched every day, and turn down 90 percent of the startups that approach them. What can you do to put yourself in the best light possible to increase your chances of getting funded?

How to Get Angel Investors

Tip 1: Know Your Numbers

If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank and seen startup founders who fumble when asked what their profit margin or sales numbers are, you have witnessed how not being savvy about business finances can ruin a company’s chance of getting funded.

Even if you’re not a financial expert, as a business owner — especially one seeking money — it is absolutely essential that you know details on the following:

  • Profit margin
  • Sales (in dollars) over past year
  • Gross profit
  • Expenses
  • Balance sheet
  • Income statement

Before your pitch, spend time reviewing these documents so that when you’re asked about them, you don’t trip over the answers and can confidently give a response.

Tip 2: Have a Track Record of Success

If you’re struggling to keep your business afloat, this is not the time to seek funding. Investors are concerned with what’s in it for them: if they give you money, how will it help them make more? They’re not interested in bailing you out when times are tough.

Many investors won’t give money to a company that hasn’t yet launched. There’s no empirical evidence that your business will succeed if it doesn’t yet have a history of sales. But if you’ve been in business a while and have done relatively well, this is the best position to be in to ask for money. Yes, it’s counterintuitive to ask for money when you don’t really need it, but consider what you can do with an infusion of cash as you grow your business. You could expand into additional product lines, hire more staff or beef up your marketing.

Tip 3: Only Pitch Angel Investors in Your Industry

You wouldn’t ask your child’s pediatrician to give you a root canal, so why would you ask an investor specializing in another industry to partner with you? An angel investor typically has deep experience in (and may have even run businesses in) a particular industry. Not only do you want someone who understands where you’re coming from, but you also want a partner who has contacts in that field that can help your business grow.

Tip 4: Have a Plan

It’s essential that you have more than just a good idea when seeking funding. Sure, you may think your electronic backscratcher is going to take the world by storm, but rest assured, an investor who has decades of experience in bringing new products to market may not agree. If you are just starting out, make sure you’ve already done plenty of research and development, explored your target market and know enough to intelligently forecast the success of your future business.

Also, be keenly aware of the competition. An investor won’t be interested in your product if it’s a copycat of what’s already out there. You need a unique angle to ensure that not only an investor sees promise in your product, but also that customers will want to buy it.

Tip 5: Show You’re Willing to Help Yourself

Asking for an investment shouldn’t be a lifeline to success. Investors want to see that you’re doing everything in your power to promote your business, grow your network and increase sales. That’s your job, not theirs. If you show that, for example, your company has won awards or gotten media coverage, it might be enticing enough to spur an investor to want to be a part of that momentum.

Working with angel investors can provide heaven-sent funds just when you need them to grow your business. But remember, you want to be as attractive an investment as possible in order to not only attract one investor, but even have a bevvy to choose from.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Startups Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Tips for Attracting Angel Investors” was first published on Small Business Trends

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How Good a Deal Did You Get on Your Smartphone? ZTE Still Has You Beat

Monday, July 25th, 2016

How Good a Deal Did You Get on Your Smartphone? ZTE's ZMax Pro Still Has You Beat

It doesn’t matter how great a deal you got on your last business smartphone, there’s one company that almost certainly has it beat.

How much would you pay for a phone with the following specs?

  • 6-inch display with a 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution
  • Octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor
  • 13-megapixel rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 32GB of storage
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 3,400 mAh battery
  • Rear fingerprint sensor
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow software
  • USB Type-C

For most people the answer would probably be $300 or more. But ZTE has priced the ZMax Pro, which by the way has all these specs, so low it has many of the leading tech publishers online singing the company’s praises.

So how much is the ZTE ZMax Pro? The answer is $99. Yes, this feature packed phone is less than $100.

The company is known for manufacturing budget phones, but it also has high-end products, such as the Axon 7, which can go toe-to-toe with the leading flagship phones of global brands. So the question has to be asked, why is ZTE pricing a phone with these specs so low? Market saturation is the most obvious answer, because high-end phones are beginning to have a harder time selling than in a saturated market.

According to Gartner, Apple had its first double-digit decline year on year, with iPhone sales down 14 percent in Q1 of 2016, and Samsung also saw a decline, although it wasn’t as dramatic. As for low-cost Chinese brands like ZTE, they are experiencing a boon as consumers look for high-quality phones that are more affordable.

The ZMax Pro fits a Small Business’ Needs, and Budget

For small businesses looking to give their employees company phones, the ZMax Pro has come at the right time. This phone has all the features a business needs to chat, text and video conference by bringing everyone together no matter where they are. The 13 MP camera, HD audio, VoLTE, 3,400mAh battery, 32GB of storage and microSD all means they will be able to communicate across all channels while capturing and storing rich media.

As many of the reviewers of the ZTE Zmax Pro have said, there is not a phone out there with these specs anywhere for $99. Whether you are a consumer or a business, this represents an option if you are in the market for a smartphone/phablet at a budget price.

The Zmax Pro is only going to be available through MetroPCS, and you can pre-register to get one here.

Image: ZTE

This article, “How Good a Deal Did You Get on Your Smartphone? ZTE Still Has You Beat” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Think Pokemon Go is Advanced? Here’s What’s Next (Watch)

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Pokemon Go’s massive breakout popularity could propel some other tech companies into the world of augmented reality success. Microsoft’s HoloLens, for example, is an AR headset that could let users play games like Pokemon Go without having to actually look through a phone screen. And Microsoft is hoping that Pokemon fans can be convinced to take their interest in AR to the next level.

It’s true that AR specific devices like the HoloLens require consumers to purchase a whole separate device just for that purpose. Part of Pokemon Go’s success is that it was released as a free app on the smartphones that people already own. In addition, those AR headsets can get a little bulky and awkward to wear around in public.

Still, serious gamers might be willing to give those devices a try, especially if they want to take a step up from the really simplified version of AR used in Pokemon Go. If so, Pokmon Go can teach even small businesses an important lesson about getting customers to adopt a new product or service.

Make Product Adoption Easier for Faster Success

If you want massive adoption for a new product or concept, you need to make it easy for consumers. Pokemon Go met them where they already were – on their smartphones. Downloading a new app isn’t nearly as much of a leap as purchasing an expensive, bulky headset.

Once you’ve exposed tons of customers to your new product or service, it isn’t as hard to up sell them on accessories to add to the experience. In the same way Pokemon Go introduced an estimated 30 million new users to augmented reality possibly preparing some of them to take the next step. How could you make your product or service easier for customers to adopt? Take a lesson from Pokemon Go and the sky could be the limit.

Pokemon Go Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Think Pokemon Go is Advanced? Here’s What’s Next (Watch)” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Verizon Will Acquire Yahoo for $4.8 Billion with Advertising Assets Being Added to AOL

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Yahoo Verizon - Verizon Will Acquire Yahoo for $4.8 Billion with Advertising Assets Being Added to AOL

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) for $4.83 billion. The acquisition only includes Yahoo’s core operating business, not its more valuable assets: Yahoo Japan and its $41 billion stake in Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce company.

This is not the first time Verizon purchased an aging Internet giant. Last year, the company picked up AOL for $4.4 billion.

“The addition of Yahoo to Verizon and AOL will create one of the largest portfolios of owned and partnered global brands with extensive distribution capabilities,” says the announcement.

The purchase gives Verizon access to Yahoo’s more than 1 billion monthly users — 600 million of whom are mobile users — which is most likely what piqued its interest in the first place.

Yahoo’s advertising business, includes Brightroll, a programmatic demand-side platform; Flurry, an independent mobile app analytics services; and Gemini, a native and search advertising solution, was another area of interest for Verizon.

“The acquisition of Yahoo will put Verizon in a highly competitive position as a top global mobile media company, and help accelerate our revenue stream in digital advertising,” said Lowell McAdam, Verizon chairman and CEO in the announcement.

Verizon will integrate Yahoo’s advertising and other assets with AOL under the leadership of Marni Walden, EVP and president of the Product Innovation and New Businesses organization.

Reflecting on the role Yahoo and AOL played in shaping the web, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said, “Yahoo and AOL popularized the Internet, email, search and real-time media. It’s poetic to be joining forces with AOL and Verizon as we enter our next chapter focused on achieving scale on mobile.”

She added, “The sale of our operating business, which effectively separates our Asian asset equity stakes, is an important step in our plan to unlock shareholder value for Yahoo.”

Mayer is not expected to join Verizon, but is expected to receive a severance payout worth $57 million, the New York Times reports.

The acquisition of Yahoo marks the end of an era in the evolution of the web.

“Yahoo was the front door to the web for an early generation of Internet users and its services,” said the Times, commenting on the sale. “But the Internet is an unforgiving place for yesterday’s great idea, and Yahoo has now reached the end of the line as an independent company.”

Yahoo struggled for more than a decade in an attempt to find a market strategy that would keep it competitive against rivals Google and Facebook. In the end, the company realized its only recourse was to raise the white flag of surrender and let itself be acquired for a mere fraction of the more than $125 billion it was worth in 2000.

Verizon

This article, “Verizon Will Acquire Yahoo for $4.8 Billion with Advertising Assets Being Added to AOL” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Sage Announces API Partnership: This Will Make Using Third-Party Apps a Breeze

Monday, July 25th, 2016

New Sage Partner Will Provide APIs that Make it Easier to Use Third-Party Apps

Cloud Elements, a Denver-based API management and integration platform, today announced a strategic partnership with Sage (LON:SGE), the accounting, payment and payroll provider used by millions of small businesses, as a part of the Sage Partner Program at Sage Summit taking place this week in Chicago.

The partnership makes Cloud Elements’ extensive catalog of more than 100 pre-built API connections available to Sage customers and independent software vendors (ISVs), enabling the seamless integration of Sage products with third-party platforms such as Freshbooks, Docusign, Expensify and many others.

Listen to Director of Global Product Management for Sage Sailesh Modi explain the partnership further:

Cloud Elements collates these API connections into categories, which it calls “Hubs,” that range from cloud storage to customer service and from finance to human resources. That way, Sage customers can take advantage of several software platforms within a single category rather than just individually, one-to-one.

For vendors, the fact that the API connections are pre-built virtually eliminates the need for custom-coded integrations between Sage products and third-party software.

Partnership Represents Growing Trend Toward Cloud-based Software Integration

According to Mark Geene, Cloud Elements CEO and co-founder, who spoke with Small Business Trends by phone, the partnership represents part of the growing trend away from information isolation toward cloud-based connections that make data sharing easy and seamless.

“More and more, the software industry is moving into the cloud,” Geene said. “That provides significant benefit to end users because it gives them the ability to connect other applications seamlessly with Sage’s platform and products, to share data. It lets Sage customers have one unified experience between two sets of software.”

Both Sage and New Sage Partner Cloud Elements Introduce New Products

Both Sage and Cloud Elements are announcing new products during Sage Summit: Sage Integration Cloud and Cloud Elements for Sage.

Sage Integration Cloud will provide a marketplace for “Sage to Sage” integrations, as well as integrations to a number of relevant partner solutions. Cloud Elements for Sage will provide a way for independent software vendors to develop new third-party product add-ons.

“The open, API-driven platform will target ISVs or other authorized Sage partners who want to integrate their product with Sage and other market participants, along with business partners and system integrators who provide custom solutions for individual customers,” the announcement said.

Cloud Elements Building Sage Accounting Hub

Cloud Elements is also providing Sage with its own hub — the Sage Accounting Hub — to house the company’s accounting products, and will make it available to Sage customers at no additional cost.

New Sage Partner Will Provide APIs - Sage Accounting Hub

The hub will initially offer integrations to Sage One, Sage Live and Sage X3, with plans to extend integrations to the Sage 50, Sage 100, Sage 200, Sage 300 and My Sage products. A payment hub is also on the development roadmap and will launch shortly.

Benefit of Partnership to Sage Small Business Customers

Geene said the main advantage to Sage’s small business customers is ease of use.

“Through the Sage Integration Cloud marketplace, Sage customers now have a self-service option to integrate the third-party apps they may be using and discover others,” he said. “This makes it very easy. No longer do they have to hire an integrator or consultant to do a custom integration.”

Geene cited as an example, the integration between Sage and Expensify, the expense reporting software platform that’s part of Cloud Elements API catalog.

“Once the two are connected, the user logs into Expensify, then pushes a button to send the data automatically into Sage,” he said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Benefit of Partnership to Independent Software Vendors and Developers

Independent software vendors and developers now have access to Cloud Elements’ catalog of pre-built integrations. The platform also gives them a set of tools they can use to create custom integrations that may not already be in the Sage directory.

“The partnership will be game-changing for independent software vendors and third-party integrators who previously had to custom code integrations between Sage Live, SageOne and X3 products,” Geene said. “Developers can create reusable integrations, which they can keep just for themselves or publish to the catalog and make it available to others as well.”

Geene said Sage’s motivation in partnering with his company had to do with the extensiveness of the library and the tools to create new integrations for Sage partners.

“In conversations with Sage, it became clear that our vision of aggregated API Hubs is the perfect fit to support Sage’s strategy to provide a normalized API experience to developers,” he said. “Cloud Elements is excited to join the Sage Partner Program and provide an integration portal to Sage’s ISV base.”

Visit the Sage website for more information on pricing, documentation and details on how to get started with Sage Integration Cloud.

Images: Sage

This article, “Sage Announces API Partnership: This Will Make Using Third-Party Apps a Breeze” was first published on Small Business Trends

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