New Technologies, Apps that Help Drivers Focus On Driving

An unfortunate side effect of the digital age is that many smartphone users have trouble unplugging from their ever-present, efficient modes of communication—even while driving. According to www.distraction.gov, the official U.S. Government website for distracted driving, “Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving…” Distracted driving is no laughing matter; it is estimated that in 2012, 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes that involved a distracted driver—a 9% increase from the previous year—and 3,328 were killed. To combat the problem, especially among young people, the site offers a variety of downloadable materials to help educate drivers, from sample employer policies and press releases to public service announcements.

Google and Apple have been working on their own solutions to distracted driving: apps that block smartphone use (or the use of certain functions, such as texting), as well as high-tech technologies that integrate smartphone use with automotive infotainment systems. In April of 2014, Apple filed a patent application for a series of apps the company hopes will boost driver safety. According to an International Business Times article, it is believed that one of the proposed apps would use sensors to detect how fast an iPhone user is traveling and whether the user is in the driver or passenger seat. A related app could apparently detect the number of people in a car – if only one person is in the car, the phone would automatically shut down. Apple also announced the development of iPhone-automotive integration technology in 2014. Known as CarPlay, the technology functions as if the user’s iPhone is built into a vehicle’s dashboard, rendering the phone controllable from the center console (touchscreen or knobs) or through a Siri voice activation button on the steering wheel. For example, Siri will be able to send, read, and reply to text messages by voice without the user ever touching the phone. Currently, the Ferrari FF is the only commercially available vehicle that features Apple CarPlay, although certain Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai, and Jaguar models are set to include the technology in 2015.

Google, meanwhile, announced its own smartphone-automobile integration technology in 2014: Android Auto. Android Auto is designed to use the voice-command-based Google Now to operate navigation, communication, and audio functions on Android-based smartphones through voice commands or steering-wheel controls. Google Play Music and other music formats, such as Pandora, will also be accessible through the technology, as will navigation software. A ZDNet article reports that Google “has signed on a number of companies — including Hyundai and General Motors — through the Open Automotive Alliance and current Android Auto product, and an integrated Android OS for vehicles is a logical step-up for the firm.” And what about Microsoft? The same article notes that, “Microsoft has so far only revealed a concept infotainment system dubbed ‘Windows in the Car.’”

Bosch SoftTec, a company that specializes in automotive software, connected services, and smartphone solutions, has introduced its own new technology, dubbed mySPIN. As with Apple and Google’s offerings, drivers who link their devices to mySPIN can operate their apps through the vehicle’s touchscreen, controller, or steering wheel control. Bosch has collaborated with Jaguar Land Rover to introduce the mySPIN technology on select vehicles in 2015. MobileDay works within mySPIN to offer drivers a simple, reliable, and safe way to dial into scheduled calls with one tap from their vehicle’s touchscreen.

There are also a variety of apps available that will disable smartphones, or certain smartphone applications, while a user is behind the wheel. Below are just a few examples of currently available apps that help drivers focus on driving:

  • Safely Go, available as an Android App at no cost through Google Play, allows only calls and texts from 3 “VIP Contacts” (for example, family members or a boss) after the app is activated with one click. The app responds to texts with an auto-reply message that informs others that the user is on the road and driving safely. The app enables calls through Bluetooth or other hands-free devices, and gives the user access to only 3 “driving apps,” (such as maps, navigation, or music).
  • DriveSafe Mode can be downloaded for either Android or iPhone devices. The app completely prevents texting, emailing, and other distractions while driving on Android devices and—on both Android and iPhone devices—creates push alert warnings if the app is shut off while driving, blocks phone use within a few seconds of the vehicle moving, and is configurable to allow a younger user to call parents while driving. New features being developed include allowing navigation and music apps while driving, speed alerts, and mileage tracking. Users must register for an account and select a payment plan before downloading the app.
  • Sprint offers its own free Drive First App for Sprint customers. The app automatically sends calls to voicemail and silences email and text alerts when a vehicle’s speed reaches 10 mph. Exit and 911 emergency buttons on the home screen of a locked device allow users to override the app.
  • Live2Txt, available for Android devices for $1.99 silences audio call and text notifications with one button click and sends a customized response alerting the person that the user is driving. Users can download the app from Google Play.

Whether you’re a CEO seeking to promote safe driving among employees or an individual who wants to detach from the temptation of using your smartphone when you should be focused on the road, technology solutions are available to help (and more are on the way).

Drive safely!

Top 7 Advancements in Mobile Tech from 2014

Mobility

Mobile technology has become increasingly important as more companies rely on the growing mobile workforce. Many of today’s employees work while they travel; others work from home or remote offices. As a result, businesses are turning to updated tools such as SMS messaging; audio, online, and video conferencing platforms; webinars; and socially enabled business processes to maintain an efficient workflow. With rapid-fire advancements in mobile technology comes a need to keep up with the latest trends. Businesses are grappling with increased demands for new requirements, such as the latest and greatest mobile applications, better data security, and “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies and practices. To help you keep up with the latest trends and identify changes your company might want to implement, we’ve compiled a list of some of 2014’s most important advancements in mobile technology.

Wearable Technology is Taking Off

“Fast forward to 2014 and technology has upped its game to new heights. Technology is now an extension of our bodies and these new technologies have a significant impact on our lives.” Bernadette Coleman, CEO & Executive Director of Advice Interactive Group, an award winning digital agency, wrote those words in this article before we even knew just how prevalent wearable technology would become. Wearable technology is becoming more standard with such developments as the Apple Watch and other devices that provide immediate access to a variety of technologies 24 hours a day. Tech users are checking texts and emails from their watches and using them to track heart rates and fitness workouts. We predict that this trend will become even more prevalent in 2015, Fortune notes that wearable technology is even getting a fashion makeover as fashion houses such as Rebecca Minkoff and Tory Burch team up with tech companies to make the devices more aesthetically appealing.

More Mobile Devices are Being Designed as the “Main Screen” (Hello, phablet)

Remember when people said, “I don’t want to read that [article, newspaper, book, email] on a small screen?” Those days are gone for many users of electronic devices thanks to recent advances that improve the reading experience on a variety of mobile devices. Most important, tech companies are adjusting screen size to accommodate wider use. This has prompted users ranging from employees to students to people who just communicate with friends and family to consider their mobile devices as their main technology screens (it’s no coincidence that iPhone 6 offers a larger-size option in the iPhone 6 Plus). Hybrid devices that bridge the divide between phones and tablets, known as “phablets,” are becoming more popular. According to TechTarget, “a phablet is a computing device with a screen size between four-and-a-half and seven inches, measured diagonally. As the name implies, the device is essentially a tablet that also functions as a phone.” The business implications are tremendous; employees now have access to virtually any type of communication whenever they can carry and use their mobile device. They can read a business article, respond to emails, send texts, and dial into an online conference meeting—all with the same portable device.

User Data Security Enhancements

Sony Pictures recently experienced a major security breach when the company’s private emails, employee social security numbers, and other critical data were publicly exposed by hackers. And remember the public outcry that resulted from Facebook’s admission that it had manipulated users’ news feeds (without their knowledge) to investigate “emotional contagion?” Data security has become a bigger issue than ever as more businesses rely on electronic data storage and communication, and as more employees who have grown up communicating through mobile devices forget that their online communication is never completely private. The best mobile app developers take security very seriously as they design and implement their technology. MobileDay, for example, never removes user data from individual devices.

New Technologies Have Improved Mobile Business/Customer Connections

Connecting with customers via mobile devices is no longer a “maybe” for many serious marketers. According to Nielsen’s Q1 2014 Cross-Platform Report, people spend more than 38 hours per month on their phones, yet mobile comprises only about 4 percent of total ad spending. Many companies still choose more traditional advertising spaces even as their customers spend more time on their phones. One panel of experts, however, recently “concurred that mobile is here to stay, is changing how we need to think about engaging with consumers, and needs to be a defined part of every brand’s advertising strategy.” To help companies move in this direction, creators of online and mobile advertising and measurement tools have developed new products and technologies. QR codes, for example, are codes that can be scanned by device users who want to “like” a Facebook page, receive a coupon, or sign up for an event. Companies like Leadbolt, meanwhile, provide solutions for companies seeking to monetize their apps. Leadbolt enables companies to choose their own placements, select from multiple proven ad formats, or build a custom native ad experience to match their app’s unique style.

BYOD Policies

Many employees access company information on their own personal mobile devices. As a result, many businesses are seeking better ways to ensure data security, and new technologies have been introduced to help. As Drew Hendricks writes in Forbes, “Businesses are increasingly putting remote wipe and encryption software on personal devices, as well as mobile virtual workspaces that separate work data in a separate, encrypted area on a user’s personal device. If there’s even a remote possibility one of your workers could access work data on a personal device, you should have a written, signed policy in place for each of your workers.”

The Cloud is Making it Easier to Collaborate on Files, Even from Mobile Devices

Solutions such as Microsoft’s Office 365 are being designed to enable businesses, employees, students, and anyone who works online to store data in the cloud, avoiding the need to email files back and forth between team members or to work off of multiple versions of the same document/file. This technology saves time as more users conduct work on the go, right from their (often larger) smartphones or phablets. Team members no longer have to wait until they’re back at the office or sitting in front of a desktop to add their comments to a Word (or other) file.

More Businesses are Incorporating Socially Enabled Business Processes

In its listing of 2014 Technology Trends for Business, PricewaterhouseCoopers listed Socially Enabled Business Processes second only to Business analytics. Social Business Consultant Sean O’Driscoll notes that many businesses are integrating social and community communications tools into their business processes to enable a new generation of connected (and mobile) employees. O’Driscoll predicts that businesses that can successful harness these technologies will “reap valuable benefits from their relatively modest investments.”

 

Mobile technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and it’s important for businesses to leverage the latest trends for the maximum benefit. With so many new tools available it makes sense to incorporate the technologies that best enable the growing mobile workforce.

10 Strategies Used by Top IT Procurement Teams

ten

Companies often perceive their IT Procurement departments as having one purpose: to minimize expenses for purchased goods and services. While purchasing is certainly a core functionality of the Procurement team, the Procurement team can also become a significant business driver that can positively affect the company’s bottom line. Borrowing strategies from the most innovative Procurement teams can help internal stakeholders to recognize that Procurement isn’t just about costs; it provides significant value to the company.

We took a look at several top Procurement teams to analyze their unconventional strategies and approaches. Below are the top 10 strategies that we found many of them had in common:

1. Be willing to step out of your vendor comfort zone

One natural tendency is for businesses to use a vendor because of an established relationship. Even more common, IT Procurement leaders inherit vendors from previous leaders. You don’t want to disappoint your vendor by withdrawing your business, and it can feel risky to try something new. However, you might be locking yourself into inefficiencies or expensive contracts. Make a point to review relationships and ensure that you’re getting the best.

It will be important to maintain active communication with internal stakeholders at the company about any inefficiencies you do uncover and any changes you might want to make.

2. Be an instigator of transformation

Don’t let old processes linger for the sake of convenience. Constantly re-evaluate, if something seems unnecessary or inefficient, consider potential changes.

One great way to drive changes is to ‘brand’ initiatives (as suggested in this article from Coupa). Create a compelling story about why the change is necessary and how it will benefit the company. Generate collateral around the story and share it internally. Find an advocate for the change, or be that advocate yourself! Evangelize the change and use data to back up the reasons you believe the change is necessary.

3. Train effectively

When someone joins the Procurement team, most companies provide a  standard training regimen and plenty of on-the-job training. Top IT Procurement leaders (such as Christian Schuh who wrote about training in “How to Become a Procurement Champion“) understand how critical additional training is in areas that may be overlooked, such as: negotiation skills, contract writing, risk analysis, and courses in Excel. Finding top talent is key, but developing your talent and ensuring that new employees are familiar with the latest tools, technology, and procedures is equally important.

4. Closely track and analyze spending

Know your team’s spending habits. Keep track of growing costs and question every increase. This will enable you to bring data to the table in negotiations with existing and new vendors, and allow you to track trends.

5. Maximize efficiency

In evaluating the Procurement process, understand the intrinsic value of every step. If there is a step that doesn’t provide sufficient value, remove it. This will keep costs low and decrease the timeline of the Procurement process.

6. Unite the procurement team

Make sure that every individual on the procurement team is on board with decisions and that each team member is all able to convey the value of the decision to internal stakeholders. A united procurement front in which every player possesses the ability to explain the buying process is key.

To unite the team, it’s important to have a tool for communication between members. Tools such as Slack and Flowdock are effective at enabling group conversation and collaboration.

7. Utilize agile communication

Here at MobileDay, we use an agile development methodology in which cross-functional teams collaborate continuously, helping them rapidly respond to changes. Communications between IT Procurement professionals and suppliers or vendors should share similar qualities. Agile methodologies emphasize adaptability and continuous iteration, and these concepts shouldn’t be confined to the development team.

If there are processes in place that may be acting as barriers to communication between teams and vendors, identify these barriers and work with the involved teams to determine a more agile approach.

8. Correlate procurement goals to overall business goals

Identify how the procurement department can permanently eliminate costs for the business rather than focusing on saving money short-term. Achieving goals that affect the company’s bottom line will begin to transform the procurement department. Once executives view Procurement as not simply a department that tries to reduce costs but as an element of the company  that can add real value, it will be easier to gain funding for new projects. In turn, Procurement can maximize efficiency even further and add value. It’s a continuously improving system!

9. Cost isn’t ALWAYS king

Procurement departments are necessarily adept at finding the lowest cost technologies and reducing expenses. However, this might not always be the ideal strategy (from this article by Veda Applied Intelligence). For example, Procurement is becoming more and more involved with the purchasing of marketing services and ad spends. While this strategy does reduce cost in the short-term, Procurement might not always recognize the importance of finding the highest quality marketing and ad products for the money, which are not always the least expensive. Over time, the lower quality purchases could start to undermine marketing efforts and decrease the value of the company as a whole. Instead of solely focusing on the short-term savings of a procurement initiative, make sure you contemplate the long-term benefits of projects and expenses.

*Note: In order to understand how expenses may be beneficial in the long run, it is critical to maintain open communication between departments (see point number 7 about agile communication strategies). Be receptive to the marketing department’s justification for costs and communicate openly with all company stakeholders. This lesson can be applied across several Indirect Procurement categories as well: hardware, HR services, and other IT-related services.

10. Explore new tools to increase efficiency 

Another natural tendency in the Procurement department is to stick with what’s known and firmly established in the company. Some of the top Procurement pros understand that in order to take the Procurement department beyond its traditional role, they have to try new tools and processes. There are tools that will show ROI over an extended period of time, but there are also tools such as MobileDay that will dramatically affect a company’s bottom line by reducing costs immediately (learn more about MobileDay).

 

In sum, IT Procurement departments can be much more than cost-saving teams in today’s business world. The most successful procurement professionals realize the importance of effective leadership, communication, training, team-building, and purchasing strategies. Teams who exemplify these best-in-class traits help their companies simultaneously achieve broader business objectives and save money and increase ROI.

 

Ten Mobile Apps for Employees On the Go

As the global business landscape moves toward increasingly mobile communications, enterprises are faced with a constant, ever-evolving barrage of desktop and mobile applications designed to facilitate interaction among their employees. Employees also must communicate with everyone from freelance content developers and designers to worldwide clients, often through conferencing systems or applications designed for collaboration on cloud-stored content files.

In addition to strong functionality, intuitive interfaces, and compatibility with back-end systems, companies are concerned about the adoption rate and functionality of new apps – especially as more and more workers access them on mobile devices. Perhaps most urgent in the contact of the current mobile landscape, enterprises want applications with seamless integration between desktops and homebound infrastructure and mobile devices as an unprecedented number employees, contractors, and clients work on the go from coffee shops, airports, trains, and even automobiles as they conduct their business world-wide.

To add to the complications, now that enterprises and employees are sharing more data and content between company and personal devices, security is a key issue when it comes to the mobile workforce. According to Blake Brannon, a senior solutions engineer AirWatch by VMware, which produces enterprise mobility management software, “The cloud leakage problem is one of the greatest threats to enterprise content security. While many cloud solutions secure enterprise content within the cloud infrastructure, they often lack the controls necessary to keep mobile users from downloading and walking away with critical information on personal, unsecured devices.” Read the article.

In this ever-changing technological and mobile professional landscape, we’ve found ten current applications that have answered the call in an effort to securely and efficiently empower your mobile workforce.

buffer1

  • Buffer (bufferapp.com) is one of the newer kids on the block when it comes to social media posting, but it’s a handy one. Like a number of other social media platforms, the app enables users to compose numerous posts at one time, schedule them in advance (or Buffer will automatically schedule them for you) and choose which social profiles to send them to. Buffer automatically shortens links without the bother of an extra click and provides some useful analytics. Buffer for Business plans range from $50 to $250 per month, depending on the number of connected accounts, how many team members can be added, and how many RSS feeds companies want imported into their “buffer.”

box

  • Box (box.com) is a cloud platform that enables employees to securely store, share, and manage company files. Box helps companies do more with their content by offering secure file sharing and invitation-only online collaboration, file synchronization that syncs files between the desktop and online Box folders, the ability to view, share and edit any kind of file in any location, online or off, and more. A free 14-day trial is available at the company’s website, and PC Magazine awarded the company’s iPhone app 4 out of 5 stars, noting on their site that “The Box iPhone app gives you access to all those files you host in your Box account from practically anywhere….”

evernote

  • Evernote (www.evernote.com) is an organizational app that enables users to clip web articles, capture handwritten notes, and snap photos to keep the physical and digital details of projects available at all times. The app boasts powerful search and discovery features to make collected files easy to call up, and even makes the development of presentations easy with a feature that, with one click, transforms notes into an attractive screen-friendly visual layout. The free version provides a workspace for daily projects that syncs across devices, for $5 per month search features are expanded and offline access to notes on mobile is activated, and for $10 per month per user, centralized administration and co-worker collaboration is added to the mix.

mobileday logo

 

  • MobileDay (www.mobileday.com) helps companies regain control of mobile calling costs by using a nifty system called Dynamic Dialing. MobileDay auto-detects a caller’s location and maps that information to available dial-ins, selecting the most cost-effective option for each call.  No more remembering long dial-in numbers or conferencing instructions; one tap of a green button on a sleek, intuitive interface makes calling into virtually any enterprise conferencing system a breeze. The app is ‘Platform Agnostic,’ meaning users can join a Lync call or meeting with a colleague one minute, and then immediately switch to a client conference on any other conferencing service  – WebEx, GoToMeeting, Join.me, Google Hangouts, etc. – even in instances where data is not available. Writing for Inc. Magazine, Ilya Pozin named MobileDay one of the “10 Must Have Mobile Apps for Entrepreneurs.” Read the story.

Concur

  • Concur for Mobile (www.concur.com) enables employees to manage anything related to expense and/or travel in virtually any location. From booking and managing itineraries to capturing receipts and submitting expense reports (simply take a picture of each receipt, hit “export,” and ExpenseIt Pro automatically creates, itemizes and categorizes the expense entries) Concur can do it all through a smartphone app. One user reviewing the app at g2crowd.com notes: “The fact I can use my iphone to photograph receipts right there at the restaurant and not worry where I kept the little pieces of paper that fade before I can read them is simply a gift to wary [sic] traveler!”

jive

  • Jive Social Business Platform (https://www.jivesoftware.com/products-solutions/) Jive is a single communications and social collaboration hub that claims to keep a workforce informed, productive, and tightly aligned with company strategy. Named a Leader in the 2014 Magic Quadrant for Social in the Workplace, the company provides solutions for employee collaboration, customer and partner communities, and team task management. A case study for how the company’s product helped T-Mobile is available online at: https://www.jivesoftware.com/discover-jive/case-studies/t-mobile/.

yammer

  •  Yammer on the Go (https://about.yammer.com/product/mobile/ios/), is a mobile app designed for Yammer, Microsoft’s cloud-based enterprise social networking platform, to enable employees to access work conversations on their mobile devices. Users can create profiles, develop and work in groups, and initiate or participate in real-time conversations. Document collaboration functions are also provided. Push notifications let employees know about important activities as they occur.

Hootsuite

  •  Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com) is consistently ranked among the top applications designed for the management of numerous social media platforms through one central dashboard. Employees can view streams from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and more in one place, and can post, respond, or cross post directly from the app.

g2p-logo

  •  GoToMyPC (http://www.gotomypc.com/remote-access/) is the mobile version of Citrix’s remote access software, which lets employees control their desktop applications from remote locations. The free app works in conjunction with the desktop version of the same name along with a wireless connection. Reviewer Jeffrey Wilson notes: “The app works as advertised—I was able to control my work PC from a distance—but it could benefit from a more responsive interaction with the host computer.”

Tripit

Do Phone Apps Misuse Your Data?

phones-stealing-data

Have you ever downloaded an app and been shocked by the level of access that it requests on your phone? For some apps, it’s wise to hesitate before clicking “Accept.” For example, you probably remember the once-prolific game Angry Birds. It was one of the most popular mobile games ever developed, but people didn’t realize that the app was actually collecting location data and selling it to advertisers (according to this NYT article). Even more surprising was that the popular “Brightest Flashlight” app did the same (according to this 60 Minutes article).

Make Sure your Apps are Super Secure

MobileDay is an example of how app companies can access data while keeping it totally secure and private to the user. When a user installs MobileDay or updates the phone’s operating system, we request access to the device’s location services. We take extraordinary precautions to ensure security of this information. The information is kept private and local on the device, never exposed to our servers or the cloud, and certainly never shared. The MobileDay Privacy Policy states, “The Mobile App does use Location Services on your device; however, this information is not exported from your device.”

Apple recently took a stand on this issue when they presented HealthKit for iOS 8. HealthKit aggregates the user’s health data into one location in order to better understand their health and level of activity. In addition, other app developers can access this information for use in their own app. You can probably see the potential problem here – an app developer could access this information and sell it, even if Apple wasn’t selling it directly. Thankfully, Apple has very explicitly stated that app developers can not pass on this information to any third parties (according to this VentureBeat article).

A story surfaced recently that reiterates this point. Snapchat is a popular app that allows users to send photos to friends that will disappear in a few seconds, and are subsequently irretrievable. However, third party apps have been developed that allow the recipients of these photos to save the pictures. Snapchat itself does not permanently store user data (data is collected temporarily but is automatically deleted from servers after both users have seen the photo, according to the Snapchat privacy policy), but some of the third party apps store photos on their own servers, opening up a vulnerability. Recently, a number of these servers were hacked, exposing up to 90,000 photos online. Users may not have checked the privacy policies of these third party apps, and probably didn’t realize that the photos were being stored without their knowledge.

Data privacy is a key issue in the industry right now, and it’s only going to get more important and complex. Developers of HealthKit and MobileDay are among those that truly embody the idea that simplicity, usability, and security must go hand-in-hand in order to maximize adoption. After all, if a secure app isn’t adopted or if it’s misused, it’s not very secure, is it? We encourage you to read closely whenever an app requires data from your phone that seems unnecessary. Take a look at the privacy policy and make sure they’re not mishandling your data.

To learn more about how MobileDay approaches and handles your data, check out our publicly posted privacy policy here.

 

How To Solve Challenges With Lync Mobile Adoption

MobileDay and Lync

As enterprise mobility becomes more prevalent, mobile adoption of Microsoft Lync remains poor due to fundamental issues with the platform’s mobile app. MobileDay provides companies with a versatile tool to enhance the mobile experience and help bolster adoption rates.

 

Lync, Microsoft’s Unified Communications platform, has become a favorite among enterprises worldwide. The software suite allows for global, corporate-wide communication via voice, video, chat, presence, mobile, and conferencing. Despite a reported 90% of Fortune 100 companies using some flavor of Lync1, there are still some criticisms of the technology that seem to be universally emerging.

Single Platform Limitations

Is Unified Communications truly unified if it’s restricted to intercompany communication through a single platform? We didn’t think so. That’s why we made MobileDay ‘Platform Agnostic.’ This way, users can join a Lync call with a colleague and immediately afterwards join a client conference on any service of their choosing – be it WebEx, GoToMeeting, Join.me, Google Hangouts etc. – even in instances where data is not available.

Mobile Adoption

As seen in Lync’s app store reviews2, the mobile experience leaves much to be desired. The app is known for having poor UX/UI and in a recent survey, 48% of users reported the quality of service as being a barrier to Lync Mobile Adoption3. MobileDay acts as a workaround and it will actually bolster employee mobile adoption. By providing MobileDay’s sleek, user-friendly interface, employees can effortlessly scroll through their day’s schedule and join any Lync meeting with the touch of a button.

MobileDay is often mistaken for a full-fledged conferencing service –  this is not the case. It is a productivity tool that provides simple one-touch access into any conference call or meeting from your mobile device. As many Fortune 500 companies have found, MobileDay provides a complementary solution to the downfalls of Lync’s mobile user experience. As businesses continue to escalate mobile infrastructure, Unified Communications shouldn’t be restricted to the desktop just because of an incompetent mobile app.

With our enterprise solution, MobileDay Advantage, companies can give their employees a timesaving productivity tool that they’ll love and with enhanced security and cost-saving ‘Dynamic Dialing’ functionality, companies will love it too.

Download the free version of MobileDay for your iOS or Android device and see how easy mobile conferencing can be.

 

1.)http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/cloud/ms_numbers.pdf

2.)https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lync-2013-for-iphone/id605841731?mt=8

3.)http://software.dell.com/documents/lync-adoption-and-challenges-a-survey-of-microsoft-lync-users-whitepaper-27100.pdf

MobileDay Raises $6M+ Series A

An interview with MobileDay CEO Howard Diamond

HappyHoward

MobileDay, the company that provides one-tap mobile dialing into any conference bridge, international call, or online meeting, has raised over $6 million in a Series A round of funding.

The round was led by the Foundry Group with participation from Innoventure Partners and Drummond Road Capital, joining existing investors SoftBank, Google Ventures, Bullet Time Ventures, and SoftTech.

Enterprise mobility and BYOD are growing explosively, as companies are undergoing a massive migration from fixed line to mobile business communications. MobileDay offers a solution that works with company’s existing infrastructure and service providers  to control telecommunication and mobile expenses with MobileDay Advantage, automatically routing employee calls via the least expensive dial-in based on location.

Brad Feld, Managing Director of the Foundry Group says, “MobileDay uses one-touch dialing on smartphones to change the dynamic of making calls on the go, both from a convenience and cost standpoint. Gone are the days of dialing 32 digits to join a conference call. While end-users will love this, companies will love MobileDay’s ability to route calls over the lowest cost network, dramatically lowering costs especially for international calling.”

Howard Diamond, CEO of MobileDay, sat down with me to talk about his background, the financing, the future of MobileDay, and what it takes to raise capital.

What is your background in the startup world.

I’ve been involved with startups since 1991. I was part of the team at Course Technology where we grew the company to $75M in revenue and sold it to a big conglomerate. I’ve done a blend of big companies and small companies. I went from Course Technology to a company where we grew the revenue to $1.2B organically and then $2.7B after we went through a merger. I enjoy startups because I have a passion for turning business ideas into real businesses. There are tons of brilliant ideas out there, but there actually aren’t that many great companies. The idea of turning a great technology idea into a great technology business is my passion.

What are some of the key ingredients for turning a great idea into a great company?

Having a great product with the technology to back it up is, of course, one of the most important factors. However, there are a lot of companies that have a great product but don’t excel at sales, marketing, distribution and pricing models. To be successful you have to develop marketing and pricing models that are as elegant, distinctive and differentiated as your technology and your product. Not a lot of people get that.

What have you brought to MobileDay to make it a great company?

Anyone that has heard me speak before has likely heard me say, “I’m a hammer and I see the world as a nail.” I’m able to intensely focus on determining and solving critical problems with crisp execution.

When I came to the company 11 months ago, we were able to swiftly developed a long-term vision for where we want to take MobileDay. We developed the business model around that vision, and we’re carrying out that model with precision. We all continuously work to ensure that we have top talent on our team to carry out the plan efficiently.

What has changed in the eleven months you’ve been with MobileDay?

Well, we’re continuously developing our product, but there have really been three major changes to the technology in the last eleven months.

The first important change was to make the product global. Twelve months ago, we were in three countries. Now we’re in sixteen countries supported on both iOS and Android, and we plan to expand our footprint even further.

A second big technology change is the app’s ability to detect the least cost international calling route, a feature available to MobileDay Advantage customers [Read more about MobileDay Advantage]. The app is able to determine the user’s location, and based on that data in conjunction with their company’s dialing rules, MobileDay dynamically determines the call route that will be the most cost effective, thereby saving companies a lot of money. We call this feature Dynamic Dialing.

The third major change is the integration with the phone’s contact list. Advantage users can now make any call from inside the MobileDay app. This expands the Dynamic Dialing capability of MobileDay Advantage to be applied to any direct call. Whether the call is made from a calendar or the contact list, the call rules put in place by the company are used automatically.

Contact List interface

Full integration with contact list and dial pad

Another big change, though not specifically a technology change, came about due to our focus on the enterprise — the addition of the administrative console. This gives us the ability to provide the companies that are working with MobileDay a way to manage their users and call rules to see what impact MobileDay has.

Admin Console interface

The Admin Console interface

All of these are major changes that have occurred in the last 11 months.

You said the administrative console includes the ability to see the impact of MobileDay. Will you explain that?

MobileDay’s enterprise version is called MobileDay Advantage. The Advantage offering provides three key benefits: Dynamic Dialing, Enhanced Data Privacy and a 24/7 Dedicated Success Team. Dynamic Dialing detects the caller’s location and routes their calls using the lowest cost dialing path. Enhanced Data Privacy ensures that no calendar, contact, or location data ever leave the user’s device, so it’s completely secure. The 24/7 Dedicated Success Team is available day or night to address any questions or issues that users may encounter.

Advantage customers are able to control their account with an administrative console. They’ll be able to see the number of calls managed and the number of calls routed using Dynamic Dialing. Depending on how much information our customers share about the cost differences between routing methods, we can calculate a close approximation of the savings they’ll see reflected in their telecom bills. The admin console will be able to show any assumptions made in the calculation, and of course the result — both recent and historical savings.  Our goal is always that as more and more users adopt MobileDay within an organization, the higher the ROI our customers will see.

ROI Calculator

Our ROI Calculator

Tell us about the financing.

MobileDay just closed our Series A round of funding. We don’t release exact numbers, but it was over $6M which is extremely exciting for us. The round was led by the Foundry Group in Boulder and we had a number of other participants. SoftBank Ventures, who I’ve been working with for a long time invested a significant amount. SoftTech and Bullet Time Ventures reinvested so we’re proud of that. We also had some new outside investors participate including Innoventure Partners and Drummond Road Capital. Our goal with this funding round is to expand our operations. We’re at a point in the company where we have a fantastic product in place that fits a distinct market need, and we’re ramping up our sales and marketing efforts to make the MobileDay a staple app for the enterprise.

When you were talking to potential investors, what were they most excited about?

When talking with potential investors, they immediately got excited about how simply MobileDay solves a huge problem. Our technology takes away the pain of dialing into conference calls for the user, and it dramatically reduces the cost of going mobile for the company. It’s easy for companies to implement, and it spreads virally throughout organizations so they don’t have to work hard to get employees to adopt the app. Also, very few companies have cracked a business that is mobile, enterprise focused, and a SaaS model. This makes MobileDay very alluring to the enterprise and exciting for investors.

Our investors invested in us because of the business model on the one hand, and because they believe in the management team. We have a small group of people but it’s an exceptional group of people. We have a really great engineering team. As I said, they’ve evolved the product in wondrous ways over the last 11 months, and the goal now is to build out the areas we haven’t focused on: sales, marketing, and distribution.

What are some lessons you’ve learned going through this round?

People want to invest in companies that have technology that excites them, where they believe the people at the company can actually deliver on the promise that the technology offers, and where the combination of the market potential and the anticipated ability to execute is exciting enough for them to make a commitment to write a check. I’m always amazed and delighted when anybody is willing to support us in that very concrete way.

What are some of the biggest challenges you foresee for the future?

It’s an execution play now. The technology platform is solid and there is clearly an interest in the market for what we’re bringing to the table. Now the question is, can we execute the way we need to in order to deliver on that promise. That’s always the exciting thing and the challenging thing – bringing in the right people to execute on sales and marketing in order to deliver on the promise of the technology. That’s the phase we’re at now with MobileDay.

What protects MobileDay from competition?

I don’t think anything ever really protects any company from competition and most companies have a lot of competition. Right now there isn’t a lot of competition out there in terms of people doing specifically what we do, but I don’t anticipate that that’s going to continue to be the case. We do all the kinds of things to protect ourselves, in fact we were just awarded our first patent. You do a lot of things from an intellectual property perspective, but in reality the only thing that ever protects any company from competition is executing better than they do and that’s what we plan to do.

Data privacy is one of our features that sets us apart from potential competitors, and that we’ve executed on elegantly. Some competitors take an approach to dialing where they pull a lot of data off of the phone. We’ve taken the opposite approach – we have worked extremely hard to ensure that we can provide our app without removing contact information, calendar information or location data from the device – it stays local and totally private. This sets us apart from competitors.

Another key differentiator is that MobileDay works with any conference call on any conference service right out of the box, unlike our competitors. Whether our customers are using GoToMeeting, WebEx, Microsoft Lync, or any other provider, we can join them to their call, no additional setup required. Our approach to the market is differentiated because of the ease of implementation of MobileDay Advantage  at an enterprise level. We are most often up and running and saving companies money within 24 hours. This is a pretty extraordinary implementation time relative to other enterprise software.

Do you have any tips or tricks for CEOs embarking on their fundraising journey?

No, there aren’t any tips or tricks. Fundraising is hard work. It’s like managing people, you’re always surprised by some of the challenges that come about as part of the process. There are no shortcuts.

As you approach your anniversary with the company, what are you most proud of?

I’m incredibly proud that we’ve taken MobileDay from a clean conference calling app to a game changer in the world of enterprise mobility. I’m proud that it retains the utmost simplicity, but solves this problem of exploding international calling costs that companies are staggering under the weight of. We’re taking this funding round to detonate into the market, and we’re going to do so quickly, so stay tuned!

Learn more about MobileDay or check out the ROI Calculator to find out how much you can save with MobileDay Advantage.

Interview with MobileDay Customer Support Specialist

Interview with MobileDay Customer Support Specialist

mug-zach-cool

“Customer Support Specialist” is an extremely important role in a business. Believe it or not, things don’t always go according to plan working at a tech startup, and we need to have a plan in place to fix them if they don’t. In order to maintain our business, it is critical to retain customers. In a competitive marketplace, a strong customer support team, and a great Customer Support Specialist could be the deciding factor to signing a deal. But gaining and retaining clients isn’t the only reason why customer support teams are important. Better customer support means an overall better user experience, and that’s what we’re all about here. We want your experience with MobileDay to be as simple and enjoyable as possible. We sat down with our Customer Support Specialist, Zach, and asked him a couple questions about how MobileDay’s support team handles unexpected issues:

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I really enjoy discovering the underlying product issues received from customer feedback and using the knowledge we gain to drive business decisions and feed our product pipeline. Even better is when I successfully help a customer and they later turn into one of our paid Advantage Customers.

What has changed since MobileDay started offering service is 14 additional countries?

Handling support has become more challenging because dialing in international countries can be more complex than in the US. Our call logic is pretty amazing, but when a country can have anywhere from 4-14 digits for a dial-in number there’s a lot of room for error. Keeping track of which countries have rules can certainly be tough! Of course being a 24/7 operation means we’re on call a lot more often.

What is your average customer ticket response time?

Right now our average customer ticket response time is 6 hours. This average takes into account normal work hours when our response time ranges from 1 minute to an hour, but also takes into account nights and weekends when response times are slower. We use a support help desk tool called ‘FreshDesk‘ that allows us to prioritize and manage support tickets in a very efficient and simple manner, and implementing this tool has dramatically increased response times and has improved the organization of our help desk.

How do you make sure you know about issues?

Our dedicated support email system gives us real-time feedback from customers as they interact with MobileDay’s features. Additionally, we proactively seek out feedback from customers based on device, usage pattern, or longevity with their MobileDay account. Sometimes this feedback comes to us in the form of short surveys, while other times it is a more personal interaction based on issue(s) they’ve had in the past. FreshDesk allows us to track and specify a variety of metrics that we use to quantify how often we see any issue and how impactful an issue may be. Based on those defined metrics, we can use our results to drive smart business decisions for MobileDay. Having a deep understanding of the application itself, speaking to our customers regularly, and working closely with our software development team are the tools we use to close the loop on our development process.

We also actively monitor our social media accounts so that we don’t miss a single mention – people reach out with issues on Twitter frequently! We also monitor reviews and comments that are made on Google Play store as well as the Apple App Store.

What do you do if you can’t solve their problem right away, it’s very technical and a weekend?

MobileDay is a highly trusted business app and we understand that business is a 24/7 job.  We respond based on strict prioritization; our Advantage Customers get their questions answered first. During off hours (like the weekend) when critical issues come through our help desk, we use a tool called ‘Victor Ops‘ in unison with FreshDesk. A support agent is alerted right away when these critical issues arise. If the issue is something that is very technical and can’t be immediately resolved, we team up with a member of our development or IT team; once engaged, they stick with us until the issue is resolved.

What is the most challenging aspect of customer support?

When a customer reports an issue or requests a feature that can’t be solved immediately. Often it is in our development roadmap, but I have to tell the customer that we do not have an immediate solution.

Contact us or click here to learn more about MobileDay Advantage

Startup Summer with Howard Diamond

Startup Summer

Startup summer

Popularity surrounding startup companies and culture is at an all-time high.  There’s a hit HBO TV show called Silicon Valley, and a clothing line at Banana Republic called “The Startup Guy .” And now, there’s Startup Summer!

Startup Summer is an internship program for college students looking to pursue a career in entrepreneurship. In addition to top-notch financial, technical, and managerial expertise from some of the entrepreneurs in the startup community, the program offers immediate exposure to startup culture. The everyday interactions with these CEO’s who know what it takes to make it are what make this experience so unique. They provide students with the necessary tools and advisement in order to build their own startup.

In addition to the one-on-one interactions students get with the head honcho’s, they also attend a series of startup seminars. As a sponsor of Startup Summer, MobileDay hosted an event Monday evening where students came to listen and learn from our CEO Howard Diamond. We were impressed by the questions the attendees asked, and the active participation.

Check out the blog written by the Startup Summer participants.

How to Make a Reliable App

reliable app

 Making a Reliable App

What’s one of the most important qualifications for a reliable app? Stability. Nobody wants to deal with a buggy app that causes a frustration overload. A mobile application with poor stability quickly leads to abandonment. According to research from TechCrunch, mobile application crashes and freezes are the leading types of problems encountered by users who experienced a problem with their mobile app.

Plan for all Possible Outcomes

In reality, there are so many factors that go into developing a mobile app, that it is hard to plan for all possible outcomes. Our friends at Pronq by HP outline a few popular approaches to avoid development crashes, such as surrounding your code with a Try/Catch Block, and implementing an exception handling strategy. Both methods possess potential temporary solutions but fail to eliminate the exception on a long-term basis. Bottom line: neither approach can ensure 100% coverage, so the work does not stop there.

There are several digital libraries for reporting application crashes. Application Crash Report for Android (ACRA) is a popular crash report library among Android users.  It allows the application to catch and report an error and its details moments before the application crashes, even if a user doesn’t proactively report the error. While ACRA is an effective tool, it contains potential drawbacks and considerations.

HP AppPulse Mobile is another tool that provides application crash tracking. AppPulse Mobile reports a crash and directly correlate the crash to the root cause user action.

At MobileDay we use Crittercism for app performance monitoring. The tool performs root cause analysis of problems, and prioritizes business critical issues. It is absolutely essential for our app to perform reliably, and without this tool we wouldn’t get a real-time view of app diagnostics and crashes. We’re able to act quickly and prevent issues from arising rather than reacting quickly when they do arise!

Other Reliable App Strategies

We know that practice makes perfect. We’re constantly improving, undergoing application-testing every day to make sure our users’ work lives run smoother. MobileDay offers consistent application functionality, optimal security protection, and lightning fast customer response times so we can make our user experience as ideal as possible.

Our testing procedures to ensure stability are extensive. Every employee in our company is involved with testing the application – we go through training to learn how to effectively test and how to report problems with our conference calling app. One favorite test is adding an email account to the phone and syncing 4,000 contacts with meetings every few minutes – we use this test to find out how the app acts when the phone is bogged down with tons of information, simulating a busy business professional’s experience. If the app is anything but flawless, it’s reported and addressed right away.

Simple Conferencing

One touch conference calling

Stability is an essential component of an effective app. No matter how awesome the app features are, if it experiences frequent crashes or slows down with too much information, it cannot possibly be relied upon. MobileDay works hard to make sure that our users can steadfastly depend on dialing into their conference calls with one touch, because otherwise they’d have to *shudder* dial all the numbers themselves (now that would just be silly)!