Tag Archive | technology

My Co-Workers’ Favorite Tech Sites

Working for a tech company has it’s perks. For starters, we often times get early access to the latest info on new apps and gadgets. So there’s no doubt that many of my colleagues at RingCentral are into technology outside of work as well. And since RingCentral is all about enabling mobility – our free mobile apps for iOS and Android bring the power of the RingCentral phone system to the most popular smartphones and tablets, there’s few things that make us happier than being able to browse our favorite tech-website while on-the-go.

blog image01So, I interviewed some of my co-workers to find out what their favorite tech websites are at this moment, for news, reviews, and everything in between!

Feel free to share your own picks in the comments section below.

Tommy, Associate Marketing Manager

News: Quora. Tommy says: “Not exactly a news site, but great for in-depth quality content. You can follow topics or questions that interest you and get notified when a new response is posted.”

Reviews: CNET

Evie, PR Specialist

News: Techeblog. This site is good for a very general perspective on what is going on in the technology and gadget world. The site likes to group things together, and usually does it with a pretty good sense of humor; example: 10 Strange Things You Won’t Believe Kids Purchased Online. You are also bound to learn something new after a few minutes of browsing.

ReviewsBrit.co. Who says that all gadget and technology sites have to be geared towards men? Evie says: “While this site is decorated with DIY posts, they are sandwiched in-between what hot apps you should download for productivity, as well as what fun new gadgets are on the market.”

Another favorite for reviews is BGR.com; this is a great site if you want to learn what your smartphone can do. This website is one of the fastest to come out with reviews that are reliable.

Grace, Marketing Specialist

News:  TechCrunch. Grace says: “Don’t miss TechCrunch’s sister site for government and politics, CrunchGov.”

Reviews: Gizmodo. Want to learn about something new and interesting in the technology and gadget world? Then this is a great site for finding details that you wouldn’t think of trying to search for. You can find articles from what app will make your car sound like a Ferrari, to the new clock incorporated on a Fitbit. If for nothing else then the site is nothing short of a fun pastime.

Ben, Social Community Manager

News: The New York Times’ Bits blog

Reviews: The Wirecutter. Ben says: “Exhaustive reviews on gadgets, entertainment devices, etc. There’s a section for non-tech reviews, The Sweethome, that’s just as good.”

And a bonus pick… Amazon.com, which offers both low prices on tech products and thousands of user-generated reviews. The site collected some of its funniest ones – check them out here.

Have a favorite site we missed? Mention it in the comments below, and it just might become one of our new go-to favorites!

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Cloud Channel Summit: 5 Lessons on Fostering a Successful Channel-Partner Relationship

Cloud Channel Summit

Last week, the RingCentral partner team and I attended the Cloud Channel Summit at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. The annual event is designed for cloud businesses looking to build successful reseller alliances and cloud ecosystems.

Cloud Summit Organizers

Cloud Summit Organizers Jeff Kapla and Marc Sternberg

RingCentral’s own channel reseller program is a valuable and successful part of our business. As with all things, however, we are always looking to take the program to the next level — and the Cloud Channel Summit was a great place to learn new insights on optimizing the vendor-channel reseller relationship. Below are our learnings, which we hope you will find helpful for your partner efforts.

We learned at the summit that generally, the three biggest obstacles in vendor-reseller partnerships are conflict, control, and compensation. Conflicts tend to arise when the partnership isn’t clearly defined between both parties. This can then lead to control issues, where either the vendor or the reseller wants to have more control of the sales, terms and conditions, and signed accounts — or the opposite problem can also occur where neither partner wants to take responsibility when problems arise. Finally, compensation disagreements surface when one or both parties focus only on short-term economics, i.e., just closing the deal rather than also fostering the customer relationship for long-term growth.

According to experts at the Cloud Channel Summit, the below five best-practices help you overcome conflict, control, and compensation so you can build a successful vendor-reseller partnership.

1. Provide Product and Customer Education. In  general, vendors need to invest time and money towards educating their resellers on the product, the customer demographics, sales materials for prospects, and anything else necessary for the selling process. The point is your resellers should be fully armed to focus their time on acquiring customers, and the vendor’s job is to make those resellers smarter.

2. Define Vendor/Reseller Responsibilities. Establish the “division of labor” between the vendor and reseller within the selling process to ensure nothing falls through the cracks and there are no misunderstandings. For example, determine whether the vendor or the reseller will provide customer support, project management, integration, etc.

3. Promote Cloud Service Revenue Model. The cloud service revenue model is based on micro-transactions and recurring revenues — as opposed to traditional models where resellers receive one lump sum after the deal is closed. Vendors should explain to resellers that the cloud service revenue model means the opportunity to make more money every time additional users are added to a particular customer account. See this slide for more details:

cloud value analysis

Click to enlarge

4. Establish Local and Regional Resellers. Local and regional VARs are important to the vendor’s mix of channel partner relationships for several reasons. For example, some customers prefer to buy locally because to them, it means nearby (and thus more timely) customer and technical support. Local resellers also have a better feel for an area’s culture and can effectively connect with customers at a more familiar level. Finally, by having resellers across a swath of geographical regions, vendors can establish a bigger footprint and wider reach.

5. Target Resellers With Cloud Clout and Skills. While it’s not necessary for all resellers to be influential in the cloud industry, it is advantageous to partner with a few highly-reputable resellers. The brand recognition of such resellers will help elevate the vendor brand and credibility. Additionally, vendors should aim to partner with resellers who already have a solid understanding of cloud computing. Different cloud services are increasingly integrating within a given ecosystem, and cloud-versed resellers will have the ability to explain the “story” to customers. Check out the following slide for more details:

Changes with the cloud-based ecosystem

Click to enlarge

Do you have additional lessons for building a successful reseller program? Please let me know in the comments.

5 Indispensable Apps for Business Travel

Recently, I traveled to Europe for business. Like with most travel — whether for work or pleasure — I found myself dealing with irksome details like flight changes, language barriers, and packing. So I leveraged a few mobile apps to help me organize the travel minutiae. Below are the five apps I found to be indispensable for my trip. Have you used Tripit, LocalEats, Packing Pro, Concur, and/or TripLingo? Which other apps do you recommend for smoother travel?

1. TripIt for iPhone and Android (FREE), or TripIt Pro ($3.99)

This travel app is a one-stop shop for all your transit needs. Get real-time flight status updates, live weather reports, route maps, and manage hotel and car rental information all from the touch of your fingertips! Upgrading to TripIt Pro gives you the additional ability to track all of your frequent flyer reward programs.

2. LocalEats for iPhone and iPad ($0.99)

If food is a big part of your travel experience, this is the app to use. LocalEats finds spots that locals enjoy, whether it’s a dive bar or an upscale, one-of-a-kind restaurant. The best part is the absence of standard restaurant chains. Another bonus is the ability to make reservations and book a taxi directly from the app. LocalEats offers restaurant listing in over 50 U.S. cities, as well as an additional 50 international cities.

“Never trust a restaurant with a 10 page menu.” – LocalEats

3. Packing for iPhone and iPad ($0.99), or Packing Pro ($2.99)

Packing is a pain, especially when you realize you’ve forgotten to pack something critical. Well, fret no more! Packing and Packing Pro apps take all the guesswork out of what to bring. Packing Pro offers sample lists that help you get a basic idea of what you need to pack before a trip, depending on where and the duration. The app also also offers an “Expert List” that lets you select the number of male/female travelers, adults & children, destination, temperature, and other criteria before automatically generating a list of suggested items to pack.

4. Concur for iPhone and Android (FREE)

Concur allows you to manage your business expenses on-the-go — because keeping track of physical receipts is a pain. Conur lets you take a picture of your receipt for storage on the app! There is even a built-in currency converter for international currencies!

Screenshots of Concur app.

5. TripLingo for iOS and Android ($4.99 – $9.99 depending on language purchased)

Those of us who have traveled internationally well understand the frustration of not being able to speak the local language for the simplest interactions, like telling the cab driver your destination. Enter TripLingo, an app that provides over 1,000 key phrases, a built-in dictionary, flashcards and an intuitive design — all of which makes it easy to immerse into the local culture. The best part: NO internet connectivity required!

RingCentral at Dreamforce 2012 {Video}

If you work in the Silicon Valley, or in the tech industry in general, then you’ve heard of Salesforce.com, and you’ve definitely heard of their biggest event – Dreamforce.

Well this year the conference was bigger and better than ever. From amazing speakers and sessions, to an expo hall full of all the hottest and latest tech companies, to the after parties, to the epic Red Hot Chili Peppers concert on the streets of downtown San Francisco there was no shortage of excitement and buzz about Dreamforce this year.

Lucky for me, as a member of the RingCentral Social Team, and the one responsible for event coordination, I was able to participate in all the fun! So, check out the video of the amazing RingCentral Dreamforce Dream Team in action at the 2012 event!

For more info on Dreamforce click here.

And a special thank you to everyone who helped me organize and put on the event, I couldn’t have done it without you!!

Me, working the RingCentral booth at Dreamforce 2012.

Snagit: The #1 Tool Every Marketer Must Have

Snagit User Interface

How many times per week do you find yourself taking screenshots? If you’re like most marketers, you probably use screenshots for many things —  from presentation slides, blog posts, web mock-ups, to emails.

There are plenty of screen capture tools out there, but TechSmith’s Snagit for Windows and Mac is the best. Once you go Snagit, you’ll never go back. The application is easy to use, offers several methods for screenshots (scrolling webpages, video), and includes plenty of bells and whistles for sprucing up your screenshots.

Here are our top five favorite features:

1) Annotate screen captures with text, highlights, shapes, and arrows. 

2) A toolbar allows easy access to all the editing and enhancement tools. The toolbar can be customized to display your most frequently used tools and options. 

Draw Tools in Snagit

Image Tools in Snagit

Customizing Snagit Toolbar

3) Record video screenshots for demos and save as an MPEG-4 video.

4) Combine multiple screenshots into one image. 

Combine Screenshots Into One Image

5) Share your image and video screen captures to numerous outputs.

**Bonus: the PrtScn key automatically becomes a shortcut to Snagit.**

You can download a free 30-day trial of Snagit, or just take the plunge and buy the app for $49.95. For an overview, watch the Snagit video below.

Top 7 Apps For Social Media Community Management

As a social media community manager who is always on-the-go, I rely on some key apps to keep me connected and engaged with the RingCentral community. Below are the seven apps that I use and highly recommend.

Which apps do you recommend for community management?

1) Eventbrite for iPhone and Android (free):

Like most community managers, I attend my fair share of conferences and meet-ups. If it weren’t for the Eventbrite app, I would be completely disorganized. The app allows you to find events in your area or in a specific city. You can filter search results by relevance, distance, date, and ticket price. But what makes the Eventbrite app extra special is the ability to keep track of past and upcoming events, as well as store relevant event information such as tickets and directions. In other words, you don’t need to schlep around printed material with the Eventbrite app — just pull up the event ticket barcode or registration info on your phone to gain admission. Hooray for going paperless!

2) Facebook Pages Manager for iPhone (free):

If you’re active on both your personal and brand Facebook pages, this app is great for separating your efforts and staying organized. The Facebook Pages Manager app is similar to the standard Facebook app but packs additional features that make it more convenient to manage brand pages while you’re mobile. Notable features include: status updates, photo uploads, notifications on post comments/likes, notifications on page likes/private messages, and basic Insights data. Admittedly, the Facebook Pages Manager app lacks some functionality — you can’t upload videos, edit Page admins (although you can view the folks who are admins), or interact with brands your brand follows via a home feed. The other bummer is this app is only available on the iPhone and not on other iOS devices or Androids. I’m guessing Facebook will continue optimizing this app. But as it stands, the Facebook admin app suits my top needs for managing brand pages without mixing with my personal profiles page.

 3) HootSuite for iPhone, iPad, and Android (free):

The Hootsuite app allows you to monitor various social networks including Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, and LinkedIn. In our estimation, the app is most effective for monitoring Twitter — in fact, it’s the best Twitter app out there. In the “Streams” view, you can access/add/remove your Twitter feeds, e.g., the home feed, mentions, and key word searches. When you’re viewing a specific feed page, simply swipe left or right to see your other streams. All the standard Twitter features apply, from posting a new tweet to retweeting/replying to a tweet. And for those of you who need an easy way to translate tweets, Hootsuite’s in-app translation is awesome.

4) Instagram for iPhone and Android (free):

We love taking pictures here at RingCentral, and our photo app of choice is Instagram. It’s simple, easy-to-use, and has a great interface. We love the various filters, as well as the ability to share photos to other social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.

5) LinkedIn for iPhone and Android (free):

The full-featured LinkedIn app is great for staying in touch with your professional network. View status updates from your connections, top news, messages in your inbox, group conversations, and job opportunities. You can also post your own status updates, send private messages to your connections, and invite individuals to connect. My favorite use of the app is for exchanging contact information with new contacts. Rather than exchange business cards when I meet new business contacts, I just quickly search for their names in the LinkedIn app and send them a request to connect. Talk about efficiency!

 6) Pinterest for iPhone and Android (free):

I won’t deny it: I’m one of many Pinterest addicts. Good thing it’s part of my community management job. The Pinterest app is great for staying updated on the latest pins no matter where you are. The best part about the app is the ability to snap a photo and upload it to any of your boards.

 

7) WordPress for all iOS iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones, and Android tablets (free):

Avid bloggers using WordPress, if you don’t already have this app, get it now. Edit and write posts on your smartphone or tablet. Upload images. And best of all, view statistics.

What Makes unSEXY Technology Sexy? {Video}

Earlier this month, my co-worker, Ben, and I attended the unSEXY Conference; which is “a 1-day conference about tech startups and companies who are actually doing something incredibly sexy…[by] building scalable, sustainable businesses.” The Mountain View, CA event was sponsored by 500 Startups and hosted by founder Dave McClure.

In general,  technology companies aren’t considered “sexy” compared to companies offering more tangible consumer goods like shiny gadgets and designer handbags.  But we tech folks, especially here in Silicon Valley, know better. Some of the most disruptive, innovative and successful products derive from seemingly unsexy technology. Thus the the main premise of the unSexy conference was to highlight the efforts of tech companies currently offering cutting-edge solutions.

As part of the RingCental team we were inspired to ask a few unSexy attendees about qualities that make an unSexy tech company interesting. Watch the video above to hear how various folks define sexy tech.

RingCentral Social Media Team Members Ben and Carolyn

unSexy Theme: “Bringing home the bacon.”

RingCentral Social Media Associate Ben Foster