I’m sure that coffee lovers today will be heralding the news that Starbucks is installing a mobile payment system in the form of an iPhone app into 700 of its outlets across the UK to be rolled out from January 2012.
With UK mobile retail sales estimated to hit £2.5bn in 2016, and 14 million adults regularly shopping from their mobiles it’s nosurprise that over the next few years we can expect a huge change in the way we shop and pay for things.
YouGov research, commissioned by digital payments provider Intelligent Environments, says 42 % of smartphone users want to use their phones as mobile wallets. Owners of the Apple iPhone are keenest, but significant proportions of BlackBerry and Google phone users want to take advantage of it too.
This is interesting stuff because it’s not the technology built into mobile phones is the way that everything, from cameras to translators, seems to be going - It’s down to the fact that this new mobile-based method is quick, simpler and crucially, more secure than anything we’ve got available at the moment.
Carl Scheible’s vision of money for example is to “enable you to pay for something from wherever you are, whatever device you're on – a PC, mobile phone, tablet, games console and a whole lot more." Interesting coming from the managing director of PayPal UK.
PayPal also expects to process more than $3.5bn in mobile payments this year. That's five times the amount it processed in 2010.
This technology will admittedly initially be used mostly for buying cups of coffee and snatched lunchtime sandwiches, but we can look forward to shoppers being able to carry digital loyalty cards, promotional offers and receipts on their phones – keeping everything in one place creating a virtual shopping hub.
I don’t think that this is to say that cash will disappear entirely, but customers will increasingly use their phones and other devices rather than their wallets to pay in-store as well as online.
Brian Waring, vice president, marketing and category, Starbucks UK and Ireland, said: "Customers want to be served quickly, but fewer want to use cash.
Businesses could do well to wake up and smell Starbucks’ coffee. A move such as the introduction of their mobile payment app really adds value to the customer, giving them more reason to visit Starbucks and in turn streamlining the business process and efficiencies.
Tags: mobile, tablet, Starbucks, PayPal, mobile payment, iPhone
News | Remote working | Topical
What are the right steps to tackle the growing problem of client unprofitability in the construction industry? Here I offer some straightforward pointers from my recent interview with ABC&D magazine which will keep your business on the right track during tough times.
The construction industry has been one of the sectors hit hardest by the recession. In their attempt to maintain business viability, and keep staff employed, some construction firms have been tempted to take on projects with narrow profit margins and over-deliver to retain the client’s business in an aggressively competitive marketplace.
Although this is an understandable course of action, it’s not a sustainable way of doing business, especially given that construction work is affected by so many outside factors. Healthy cashflow is crucial and companies need to ensure that their work is as profitable as it can be.
There are some straightforward steps that companies can take to ensure that profitability remains priority.
Scrutinise your current client base
Getting to grips with client profitability starts with reviewing your current client base which can lead to tough and radical decisions. As difficult as this is, your business will never thrive if you work on unprofitable projects. We have all experienced ‘mission creep’ with long-standing clients, when the original terms of the partnership have not kept pace with rising costs. When these relationships become closer over time, it’s understandable that you are reluctant to set different expectations or boundaries. It doesn’t matter how much business is available, turning work away is never easy to do but it does free up expensive resources to focus on where they can bring the best return.
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Model what your ideal client looks like
To build a sustainable business, you need to focus on the sectors, projects and clients that are most profitable, rather than trying to be all things to all clients. It’s worth stepping back, analysing each project your business works on and then modelling ‘a perfect client’. By doing this exercise you will be able to divide your clients into three categories – those who are already profitable, those who could become profitable and clients who are unlikely to ever become profitable. By gaining a better understanding of what each client is worth to your business, you can decide where to invest resources for optimum return, both in retaining clients and pursuing new business.
The customer is not always right
Traditional thinking says that because customers hold the purse strings, they are always right. While customer satisfaction is vital to your business, honesty and transparency are the firmest building blocks for maintaining a working customer relationship. Clients will not only respect you if you highlight potential flaws, but by doing so you will also give them time to find and implement solutions to deal with the problem. Don’t forget, the reputation of your business is impacted by every delayed project, so don’t be afraid to raise a red flag if you think that a client’s expectations are not possible to fulfil.
Click here to find out moreReporting, reporting, reporting
None of the above will be possible without efficient reporting, so as tedious as it sounds, make sure you get your house in order. Being able to prepare and present a wealth of reports with confidence will give you solid ground to stand on when discussing budgets with your customers and is crucial for your managers to keep projects within deadlines and budgets. The right software should reduce the length of time you spend on reporting while also enabling you to present a project’s progress or results as easy-to-understand ‘management dashboards’. By presenting information this way, companies can share detailed, financial or technical data to clients in a format they can easily understand and act on.
Analyse where internal processes are undermining your profitability
As well as identifying which clients are affecting your profitability, you need to consider how your internal processes could be streamlined to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Are you deploying your resources to the best effect? Can you spot instantly where actual costs are getting disproportionate with the budget? It’s a real challenge to strike the right balance between under-utilising sources and over-committing them. Drawing on a database of information from previous projects of similar complexity will speed up this process and increase the accuracy of your decisions.
Dealing with unprofitable clients is challenging and can be emotional especially if you have developed a relationship on a personal level. However, it will not only boost your profits but also staff morale so it is definitely worth the effort in the long term.
For further information on IRIS Project Solutions please click here.
Article originally published in ABC&D magazine published November 2011.
Tags: construction, construction industry, IRIS Project Solutions, business software, accounts software
IRIS ABS News
We all know that Cloud computing allows companies to reduce costs by buying less hardware and using servers located elsewhere to store, manage and process data. However did you know that large companies in UK could cut their emissions 50% by 2020?
According to a new study by the Carbon Disclosure Project says that Blue-chip companies could reduce their carbon emissions by 50% if they migrate their data storage operations to the cloud.
Interviews undertaken by the Carbon Disclosure Project study's authors show that blue-chip companies in the UK plan to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing from 10% to almost 70% of their information technology by 2020. The study claims that these companies could benefit from billions in savings if they do.
For example by 2020, large UK companies that use cloud computing could achieve annual energy savings of £1.2 billion (€1.39 billion) and carbon reductions equivalent to the annual emissions of over 4 million passenger vehicles, the study says.
The study conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project in London focussed on large IT companies in France and the UK and found that they could achieve large cost savings and carbon reductions by 2020 if they moved their IT systems to shared data networks.
From a business perspective, the most compelling argument for cloud adoption is not cost-savings or energy reductions but speeding up the time it takes for a company to start trading.
And from that perspective I think that companies should consider that carbon reduction is one driver, but not the primary driver.
The primary driver is time to market. In the past, developers could take weeks to get new servers, but in the internal cloud infrastructure that we now operate in our own private network at IRIS, it takes just a couple of minutes.
Find out more about IRIS Hosted solutions
What business issues does this solve?
Ultimately the Carbon Disclosure Project’s report shows that business use of cloud computing can play an important role in an organization’s sustainability and IT strategies: improving business process efficiency and flexibility whilst decreasing the emissions of IT operations.
Across business, executives are always looking for ways in which they can operate more sustainably, and the cloud is one way that they can increase their competitive edge.
Discover more about IRIS Hosted solutions
Click here to read the report
Click here to download the IRIS Hosted Solutions Whitepaper on Cloud Computing – Technology transforming business
Tags: cloud computing, hosted solutions, IRIS, Carbon Disclosure Project
Accounting Software | Cloud computing | Hosted solutions | News
The government is preparing to give more money to the International Monetary Fund to help struggling nations, including eurozone states. Such a move could mean debt-ridden nations like Greece, Italy or Spain are indirectly helped by British taxpayers.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron is to meet G20 leaders in France to discuss the deepening debt crisis in the eurozone. He has ruled out direct contributions to the eurozone bail-out fund.
The UK currently provides £29bn ($46bn) of the IMF's £600bn ($950bn) lending capacity.
About £4.9bn of UK money is held in the IMF's fund but it could draw down up to £29.4bn from the Treasury in certain circumstances.
(Source: BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15567919)
There’s a lot to be learned from the Eurozone crisis. Poor cash management impacts your own working capital, eating into the amount of money you have to invest in the business and affecting your ability to pay your own debts.
Furthermore, the longer a debt is outstanding, the greater the risk of the customer going out of business and the greater the cost of resolution. I thoroughly recommend you reading one of our latest white papers. In the first section we provide a checklist of cash control practices that will help you to create an effective regime for improving cash control.
We then go on to explore the contribution that non-finance employees can make to prevent bad debt accumulating in the first place, by making bad debt a company-wide concern. In particular, the purpose of the white paper is to highlight the importance of not only getting the customer’s money in the bank but also ensuring it stays there.
As Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "As we saw in 2008, a global economic crisis can only be addressed by global economic leadership. Now is the time to turn the corner. To set out a plan that addresses the reality of faltering growth and rising unemployment - a plan that faces up to the G20 leaders' first responsibility: the responsibility to lead."
Click here to download our top tips to prevent making debt a company wide concern.
Tags: Eurozone, David Cameron, IMF, debt, Ed Milliband, G20, IRIS
Accounting Software | Eurozone | News | Topical
Microsoft released a video in 2008 and another one this week that together predict the sleek, wireless, connected gadgets we'll all enjoy by the year 2019.
It’s a beautifully produced vision of the future of mobile and remote business solutions which isn't surprising that a film produced by Microsoft would celebrate business travel and efficiency. As you watch the viseo, think about how the technical trends we observe today can be extrapolated to create the experiences Microsoft depicts in the future.
Why these are great predictions
What’s probably the most amazing thing is that everything in this video is being worked on, refined and developed. If you follow current trends for compute power, display technology, networking speeds, device miniaturisation, flexible displays, touchscreens, gesture technologies and others, you will get this future.
And Microsoft itself is working on much of this. The intelligent displays are really just advanced versions of what's possible now with a Microsoft Surface table. The in-air gestures are advanced versions of what Kinect for Xbox 360 users are already doing.
While the future is impossible to predict, at IRIS we too are constantly looking forward, analysing trends, and gathering insights to gain a deeper understanding of how our developments in software and technology can further develop the remote working capabilities of our products.
This video portrays how future tech will help us make better use of time, attention and strengthen relationships by getting things done at home, work and on the go.
It’s an exciting business vision and I’m looking forward to strengthening our Microsoft relationship to make the most of its Productivity Future Vision both now and in the future for IRIS Exchequer customers.
IRIS Exchequer LIVE
IRIS is committed to responding to customer and market demands and as a result, has further developed the remote working capabilities of its award-winning product, IRIS Exchequer. IRIS Exchequer LIVE uses the latest technologies to enable users to operate and collaborate efficiently by providing real-time access, irrelevant of location, through an intuitive and highly functional new interface (IU). By taking advantage of leading edge developments, IRIS has created a new ‘Rich Internet Application’ (RIA), which enables both office-based and remote users to have access to live data, providing an essential gateway to accurate business information.
IRIS Exchequer LIVE is not purely for remote workers; the solution delivers the capability for office-based users to access, manage and tailor transactions to their individual working requirements. Key to the design of this all new solution is the ability for users to create a personalised view of key information. An intuitive panel provides a ‘snapshot’ view of activities, unique to each specific user.
IRIS Exchequer LIVE has responded to the challenge of the demands of the changing working environment by providing a fresh and dynamic approach to accessing critical business data from both an office and remote environment.
To find out more about IRIS Exchequer LIVE, please visit www.irisexchequerlive.co.uk
Tags: web enabled solutions, Microsoft, Productivity Future Vision, IRIS Exchequer, Remote working, accounting software, accounting solutions
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