The Golden Globes were this past Sunday night, and if you tuned in, you may have been anxiously awaiting the announcement of Best Picture. But if you’re anything like me (or Joan Rivers), you were also probably keeping an eye out for what Hollywood’s it-list decided to wear for the red carpet event.
While software buyers might be less judicious about plunging necklines and designer labels, they certainly know what’s fashionable in the software industry. After doing a demo or two, it’s easy for prospects to get a sense of who’s cutting edge and who’s on the worst dressed list.
Do you know if your software is hot or not? Consider these fashionable trends across the software industry that are winning over your potential customers…
1. Social Sign On: It’s annoying to have to remember a username and password alone, but if you have a unique access key for every user or a complicated, secure login process, you might be scaring away potential users. It’s the red carpet equivalent of Lady Gaga in a meat dress. Sure, your security and compliance teams might appreciate that you send a confirmation email every time a user wants to access their account, but from a user perspective, it’s much easier just to login through a system they’re already signed into… namely, their social media accounts. Another benefit to social sign-on is that it often allows users to easily connect to their social sphere using the software. For instance, a user may notice that their colleague from an old job is also signed on to the software. With this discovery, they now have someone in their network to ask questions to, bounce ideas off of, and get recommendations for optimal use of the software, which can save your support team time.
2. Social Media Integration: People spend hours honing and crafting their online persona, so if your software can tap into that information, it’s pretty valuable to your customers. Depending on the type of software, social media integration can be the differentiating factor between making the sale and ending up in the morning tabloids. Here are some popular examples of how software companies are using social media integration to their advantage:
- CRMs can pull in a prospect’s likes, previous places of employment, education info, and network connections to give sales and customer service reps more insight into the prospect.
- Event Management software can allow registrants to invite others to the event through their social networks, post live updates from events on Facebook and Twitter, or share event registration details on social media.
- Restaurant and Retail management software can generate discounts and promotional coupons to post on Facebook that will create unique codes for every click and track which Facebook users sign up.
3. Mobile-Friendly Websites: This is less of a trend and more of a wardrobe staple, however, many software companies are still stuck in the 90’s with this one and haven’t made their site mobile-friendly. With the number of business people accessing software via their smart phones or tablets, having a mobile-friendly website is critical. And when I say website… that includes your actual application interface if your software is web-based. If half the screen gets cut off when you login to the application on your phone, but the free demo signup form works okay on a mobile device, that’s not exactly helping out your customers.
4. Mobile User Apps: Got an app for that? It may seem like all the cool kids in software are developing mobile apps for their end users, but if you don’t have a mobile-friendly site yet, don’t stress about an app just yet. However, if you want to be really fashion-forward and mobile websites are so-yesterday for your tech team, create an app that users can quickly access when they’re on-the-go.
5. Agile Processes: In 2013, top-down management is out, and agile methodologies are in– across job functions and industries. Traditionally used by project managers and tech developers, “agile processes” simply mean that a group of people work quickly and dynamically to tackle problems, working in short, successive “sprints” to accomplish more in a timely manner. How does this apply to software (I mean, software other than project management software)? Well, if your software allows for multi-user access to projects, facilitates a dynamic workflow so that parts don’t have to be accomplished successively, and tracks user accomplishments, then it’s likely to appeal to companies using these agile methodologies.
These might seem like pie-in-the-sky dreams for your software company, or they could already be old news. Just like in Hollywood, some people are put in the spotlight (lead actresses, directors, etc.), while others (screenplay writers, animation producers, etc.) aren’t scrutinized as closely. Similarly, these fashion trends are more applicable for certain software categories (marketing automation, ecommerce, sales force automation, etc.), whereas other industries aren’t as concerned with the new “it” thing.
Are you making strides in 2013 to add any of this functionality to your software? What would you say is the biggest priority?
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