Choosing a Payment Integration Partner By Alice Chen

Choosing a payment integration partner is an important decision. They are called partners for a reason – whoever you choose needs to be invested in your shared clients’ success and satisfaction. When it comes to selecting the right payment integration partner, keep the following points in mind.

API

Not all APIs are created equal. It’s important to have an API that not only meets the needs of your business and your clients but that is easy for your developers to work with. An API that has a standardized code structure, error messaging, and flexible integration capabilities makes for an easy integration.

Revenue share

Among the 51% of ISVs that receive some form of compensation, 57% receive revenue share on each transaction rather than a one-time referral fee. A fair, profitable revenue share program gives you a percentage of the net revenue generated from your referred clients, which increases as their total processing volume grows. If your clients need traditional terminals for in-store transactions in addition to processing payments through the integration, ask if the integration partner offers revenue share on terminals as well (not all integration partners do this). Some integration partners also offer incentives, rewards, and uncapped revenue share.

PCI compliance

Your clients have enough on their plates without worrying about PCI compliance. While compliance is not legally mandated, non-compliance involves penalties, fees, and in severe cases, account termination. Look for an integration partner that reduces your clients’ responsibility for PCI compliance, ensures every transaction is encrypted, and securely stores sensitive credit card information.

Pricing

Generally, a merchant account provider can offer you lower, more competitive pricing than the fixed rates offered by aggregators – and lower rates attract more clients. Additionally, through the partnership, most integration partners will offer preferred pricing for your referred clients.

Support

Does the integration partner provide support for you, your developers, and your clients? Most integration partners also offer product training for your sales staff to help increase your market penetration, conversions, and revenue. Do they provide co-marketing content, campaigns, and initiatives to help increase account penetration, conversions, and revenue? What type of support does the partner offer your developer(s) before, during, and after integration? Are there guides and resources for your developer team to refer to? Is there a sandbox environment for them to use? Technical difficulties or billing inquiries disrupt your clients’ business; an integration partner that provides prompt 24/7 customer support is invaluable.

Smooth onboarding process

If you partner with a merchant account provider, they’ll need to first set your clients up with their own merchant account to be able to accept payments within your software. Look for a partner that provides a smooth merchant account application and onboarding process. A great integration partner enables your clients to start processing payments as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Reporting

Your clients can either process payments through the mobile app or insert a card reader into the audio jack of the mobile device to accept credit card payments anywhere, anytime.

Product scope

Make sure the capabilities offered by the API aligns with the business needs of your clients. Every software vendors’ customers have unique needs which require different technology sets and payment solutions.

Download Now

This is an adapted excerpt from our latest eBook, Payment Integration 101: A Software Vendor’s Guide to Payment Partnerships. To read more, download the free eBook on the right.

via Technology & Innovation Articles on Business 2 Community http://ift.tt/2wUluUD

The Charity Arcade Brings Social Fundraising To Retro Gaming By James Kosur

If you wander through Swedavia Swedish Airports and seek out some retro gaming consoles you’ll stumble across Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, and Space Invaders.

Much like the original versions of these gaming cabinets, players simply drop in a quarter and begin their gameplay. Unlike original consoles, charitable donations are being collected with every challenge.

Featured at Stockholm Arlanda Airport and Göteborg Landvetter Airport you can now play these classics while helping raise money for the Swedish Red Cross.

Every quarter dropped into the consoles are displayed in a glass collection box located at the bottom of the gaming consoles.

The Charity Arcade is the brainchild of the Swedavia Swedish Airports and the Swedish Red Cross and they have been a big hit.

You can use any international coins to play the games, offering the opportunity for tourists to enjoy a few minutes of retro fun while helping the Swedish Red Cross save lives.

Here’s a video of the Charity Arcade in action:

The Charity Arcade has been around since 2015 and we’re hoping this concept continues to catch on and spreads beyond Sweden.

via Technology & Innovation Articles on Business 2 Community http://ift.tt/2fNHlJa

A 9-Year-Old Applied For NASA’s ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy” Job And The Agency Responded By James Kosur

Photo Credit: NASA

NASA recently announced a new “Planetary Protection Officer” role and immediately received thousands of applications. One of those applications, however, stood out among the crowd. That’s because the application was submitted by 9-year-old Jack Davis.

In his post, the young man referred to the role as the “Guardian of the Galaxy.”

“I have seen almost all the space and alien movies I can see,” Jack said in his letter. “I’m great at video games. I am young, so I can learn to think like an Alien.”

Here’s Jack’s full letter:

A family friend posted the adorable letter on Reddit and it quickly went viral. With all the attention Jack was receiving, it was only natural that NASA would jump in and respond to his job application.

NASA’s director of planetary science division went the following response on Twitter:

“It’s about protecting Earth from tiny microbes when we bring back samples from the Moon, asteroids, and Mars. It’s also about protecting other planets and moons from our germs as we responsibly explore the Solar System.”

NASA then told Jack to study hard along with other kids his age so they could become true “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Here’s the full response from NASA:

\

Keep at it Jack, you never know, we might actually need kids like you to study aliens and one day protect our planet from an invasion.

Adorableness personified!

via Technology & Innovation Articles on Business 2 Community http://ift.tt/2i8LXdP

Better UX Is A Compelling New Feature By Jon-Mikel Bailey

user-experience-design

I’m on the advisory board for our community’s tech advocacy group, Tech Frederick. Once a month we meet to discuss how to build opportunities, grow talent, and solidify a community for the tech industry in our town.

During one of these meetings, the chair of the advisory board, Vaughn Thurman, principal at Swift Software, said something that really struck me…

“Better UX is a compelling new feature.”

First, some context. Vaughn was talking about a UX course that Tech Frederick will be offering in the future. He was telling the story of his team’s experience with the training firm that will be presenting.

Vaughn’s company has developed a very robust and feature rich work and workflow management software called JobTraQ. While it did everything potential customers needed it to do, it was suffering in the user experience department.

Vaughn and his team wrestled with how to make the product better. They knew that it had all the right features. His clients and even his prospects were telling him this.

It didn’t, however, have a good user experience.

So, instead of trying to add some whizzbang new feature (yeah, I said whizzbang), he realized that better UX is the compelling new feature JobTraQ needed most.

Sometimes more is not better. Sometimes better is making the existing system easier to use.

What is UX… Really?

UX (user experience) is as it sounds: the experience a user has and continues to have with a product or system. UX is often confused with UI (user interface) or design.

While UI and design play a part in UX design, there is much more to UX. I’ve seen many UX definitions and read quite a few books on UX. The definition that my friend Joe Natoli gave me a while back is still the best I’ve seen…

“UX isn’t just about users; it’s really a value loop in three parts:

  1. The person using the website/application has to perceive that it’s valuable to them.
  2. That perception has to be validated through use. Proof equals trust, which means they use and/or purchase.
  3. When both things happen, value comes back to the business/creator in increased market share, customer loyalty, money made or money saved.” – Joe Natoli, GiveGoodUX.com

UX Is More than Just a Slick Interface

UX is so much more than just design. Vaughn’s problem was partly a design issue. But, it was also a value and trust issue.

His customers knew the features they needed were there. But the poor UX was getting in the way of them seeing the value. His clients feared that their team would not use a system that has a negative UX, even with the features they needed.

In other words, you can have all the features in the world but if using your website or app is frustrating, you will not build trust or show value.

Vaughn and his team worked with the resources they got from the UX consultant, performed extensive usage studies, and then, armed with real intelligence about what their users liked, hated, or were just confused by, they proceeded to completely overhaul the interface and flow of JobTraQ.

The core functionality did not change. They simply made it easier to use.

This was a turning point for the product. Sales improved. Existing users raved about the product. Vaughn and his team provided proof that the system was a valued and trusted solution for their client’s needs.

Is UX a Problem for You?

There is one sure-fire way to test your website or app’s user experience. Watch a customer use it. Note when it works well for them. And note when it causes frustration.

But, before you can do that, you need to know the needs of your target audience. And you need to have a clearly defined set of goals for your website or app.

You need to identify the key performance indicators or KPIs.

Your Website or App’s KPIs

Be careful. The KPIs need to be user-centric. And they need to support your business goals. You need to identify your priorities.

For example, if you are looking to improve conversions, you need to see where these conversion goals intersect with the user’s (website visitor) goals…

A good user experience is one where the user’s needs are met and the business goals are achieved. The only way to know if your website or app is aligned with these priorities is to track users.

Some of this can be done using Google Analytics. Using Google Analytics, you can track things like…

  • Pages visited – which were popular? which were not?
  • Time on page/site – did they look around, read content, use the system?
  • Bounce rate – do they get to your site, turn right around, and bolt?
  • Conversions – are they taking the actions you need them to take?

These are all indicators that show how well the website is functioning. But they do not give a complete picture of the UX.

Getting User Feedback

You have to get user feedback. Real feedback. Ideally, you should set up user sessions where a group of customers actually use your website or app.

Record them using the site on video. And screen capture their activity. The video will show you their body language. Do they look frustrated? Or is the experience visibly pleasant for them.

And the screen capture will show you how they use the site/app. You’ll see the paths they follow and the choices they make. You might be surprised by how they get to the information they need. It could be completely different from how you expected.

All of your assumptions about how your website or app is being used could get tossed out the window. And you might find that the experience is not a good one for your customers.

Be prepared for this. And use the information you get to improve the user experience moving forward. This is not a time to place blame or fret over past mistakes. Learn from them instead.

The High Cost of Ignoring UX

User experience design is not an event. It is an ongoing process. This might sound expensive. Sure, ongoing UX design will cost money.

Designing and building a system for the wrong person and the wrong reasons costs a lot more. If your website was built to satisfy the personal tastes of a manager or boss, it will not be a success. They are not your target audience.

And building something based on assumptions or incomplete data could be a huge waste of time and resources (money).

At Wood Street, we hear the following all the time…

  • “We need an app.”
  • “We need to redesign our website.”
  • “Our website needs video.”
  • “We should add a Facebook feed to our homepage.”

I could go on but you get the point. Our response is always “why?”

  • “Do your customers need an app? Will they use it?”
  • “Is your website not doing what it should? How do you know?”
  • “Do your clients need more video? Have they asked for it?”
  • “And do they really need to see your Facebook posts on your homepage?”

Better UX Is Your Compelling New Feature!

Instead of adding a new feature or shiny new object that some social media guru suggests, add something that the user needs. Find ways to provide value.

Remember, trust is built by consistently providing value. And that value comes back to you in goals achieved.

So, the next time someone suggests a new feature or some new technology, ask them why. Perhaps the compelling new feature you need is a better experience for the user!

via Technology & Innovation Articles on Business 2 Community http://ift.tt/2x7kcVv

The 2 Harshest Truths about Data-Driven Websites By Randy Milanovic

Here at Kayak, we are big believers in the value of content creation and advanced CMS’s like HubSpot. We talk about them enthusiastically, and share the results we see from our own campaigns as well as the ones we deploy for our clients.

That, in turn, gets other marketers excited about them.

pumped-up-for-inbound.jpg

Business owners and marketers who come to us after reading our blogs and snapping up our downloads can’t wait to get started. We love seeing how pumped up they are to get going on inbound marketing plans, but we have to introduce them to one of the harshest truths of all first…

When you create a data-driven website, it’s never truly finished.

We can create a layout, teach the client team about the fundamentals of SEO and lead generation, and put their new site online. But, we can’t deliver a complete job for them. That’s because, even at the point that leads start coming in, the project is really just getting started.

This is something any company looking to replicate our success should understand. So, today I want to explain why it is that data-driven websites are never finished, and what that really means in the long run.

Truth #1: You Can’t Ever Finish a Data-Website

Because my firm focusses on inbound marketing and quality lead generation, our plans and campaigns are content heavy, measured and refined. They require ongoing activities and resources like time, attention, and fresh content to keep them running and refining.

At the same time, even (or especially) when you have lots of traffic coming your way, there is more to do than adding new content.

Data-driven websites are never finished.

We want to watch our analytics to see who was arriving on our website, how long they are staying, which CTAs and content they are responding to, and more importantly, how or where they’re exiting your website, while maintaining an “always helping” perspective that leads to greater trust and more solid sales.

Each of these activities and mechanisms create data points representing an opportunity to get smarter and more efficient. So, it’s easy to find yourself continually tinkering with your site to capture more traffic in the form of leads or subscribers. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

In one example, we recently noticed that one of our clients was receiving more than 4,000 unique monthly visits to three blog posts. However, they weren’t capturing many leads from that traffic. Understanding there was real interest in the topic, we investigated and saw a connection to one of the services the company offered, worked to tweak the post’s content and link/lead capture strategy to better engage and convert those visitors. If we weren’t watching the data, we would have missed that opportunity.

measured-content-refined.jpg

None of this would have come into play had the client used a traditional static website or foregone the use of advanced analytics like the type we deploy via HubSpot and Google. They would have (maybe) simply noticed good traffic but poor conversions.

Having those data insights paired with a well-defined persona compelled them into action and actually created more work for their team and ours.

The point to be made here is that data-driven websites require more work and attention than some businesses are used to, simply because marketers are more aware of challenges and opportunities revealed by the data.

Truth #2: Evolving Campaigns are Near Impossible to Plan and Quote

Until a site is up and running for a bit, we won’t have any concrete data to tell us if a client’s marketing personas or messages are 100% on target, or require a tweak. We also can’t predict how diligent a client will be at creating content, engaging prospects and colleagues on social, developing their online reputation, or working to convert the leads that come in.

So much of what we do, and a big part of the eye-popping results that attract clients in the first place, has to do with adjusting plans to seize opportunities that the data reveals.

Of course, the flip side to this is that business owners and executives are happy to keep working with us when they find a new source of sales opportunities. But in the beginning of the process, it can be tough to commit to going forward when they don’t know exactly what the campaigns are going to yield.

Is it Worth the Time and Money to Have an Evolving Website?

If you aren’t already a client, and haven’t used a data-driven model for your online marketing campaigns in the past, then you’re probably wondering about the bottom line. What you really want to know is: is it actually worth it to follow this kind of approach?

We can tell you definitively that it is, but only if you recognize that getting bigger results means more effort and patience to set it up and maintain it. If you don’t accept that from the outset, you’re likely to get frustrated and give up too soon.

getting-bigger-results.jpg

The real secret here is that adding good content your website is a great way to generate activity, and start conversations. Once that happens, you start analyzing the results more closely, and are very likely to find yourself looking for ways to keep the flow of traffic coming and generate even more conversions.

You’ll start to think about new offers, informative pages to add, and ways to tweak your landing pages and emails to improve conversion ratios. That will naturally lead to more visits, more data points, and more opportunities to keep growing.

The cycle I just described is full of positives, but on a more practical side, it can take much more of your time and effort than having your developer maintain a static website. But, like all things in life or business, there is a price to success, and one victory or plateau gets you working towards the next.

Are you serious enough about improving your business to make the commitment it takes to generate leads over the internet? If so, maybe it’s time we got together to chat.

via Technology & Innovation Articles on Business 2 Community http://ift.tt/2wbGIjD

3 Surprising Business Intelligence Dashboards Every Accounting Firm Should Be Tracking By Telmo Silva

StockSnap / Pixabay

Accountants have long been the backbone of any healthy company, providing financial updates, monitoring cash flow, ensuring payroll and taxes are up to date, and more. They are undoubtedly one of the most critical departments in an organization. Over the years, they’ve gained an even larger and more senior role in many organizations by analyzing and reporting on financial data and participating in decision-making processes.

This amplified value only continues to increase with the advent of Business Intelligence (BI) tools. These tools provide value, structure, and clarity to the plethora of data available within disparate company systems. The beauty of these tools is their ability to pull in information from multiple sources and automatically consolidate it into a logical, understandable format from which users can make educated decisions, often resulting in direct improvements to the business.

With Business Intelligence implementation now simpler and less expensive than in previous years, accounting firms are especially well-positioned to take advantage of the benefits. BI can create a huge competitive advantage by enabling firms to provide additional insights to their clients and establish new service offerings. Using this new method of collecting usable data, they will also be able to improve their own practices by identifying new ways to grow revenue and manage risk. BI software further enables accounting firms to position themselves as high-value, trusted advisors to their clientele.

There are numerous reporting dashboards available to track financial data, such as financial performance and controls, among others. While these are the most obvious dashboards an accounting firm will want to track, Business Intelligence provides an opportunity to gather information on other more unexpected areas of the business that may not normally receive much focus, such as project status (note: nearly anything can be managed as a ‘project’), productivity by billable accountant and overall, and your Google Analytics. More on each of these below.

Firms can determine the critical indicators that matter most to them and set up customized dashboards to reflect that information at a moment’s notice. Take, for example, the following three dashboards which provide a significant level of detail on operations that may not be currently tracked. You’ll be surprised at how much you learn.

3 Key Business Dashboards to Track:

  • Project Status Dashboard – Identify project cost to performance, project phase completed, and timeline vs. resource capacity. This information can quickly tell you whether you’re on track and on budget with your commitments or whether you need to adjust.
  • Productivity KPIs Dashboard – View the hours worked by each employee, how their actual hours compared to their goals, billable time vs. goal, and productivity actual vs. goal. Easily determine the productivity of your employees on a regular basis to uncover imbalances in workloads.
  • Google Analytics Dashboard – Clearly understand website metrics like unique page views, time on page, bounce rates, and more. You can also track trends over time, and better understand where your web traffic is coming from and what keywords they use to find your firm. This data helps you test different messages and offers so you gain a better understanding of what your clientele is most interested in, and can improve your sales hunting process when looking for new business.

Tracking company information and using it to improve business operations and increase revenue has become much easier with today’s modern BI tools. They provide incredible insights that are otherwise difficult to access.

These examples are just the beginning! Once you realize the value of the information you can harness right from within your own accounting firm, you will likely choose to build more and more accounting dashboards in various departments across your business.

via Technology & Innovation Articles on Business 2 Community http://ift.tt/2vJi9HL

Is Your Data Reaching Its Full Potential? By Hans Therron

blickpixel / Pixabay

Data holds power. By now business leaders everywhere understand that big data has the ability to uncover valuable insights and boost efficiency for their company, but many struggle to reap these benefits. Information must first be understood and utilized appropriately, and making the jump from a plan to an executable strategy to definable results is often a bigger journey than initially thought. With a tremendous amount of information overwhelming many businesses today, how do you know if your data is reaching its full potential?

Understanding Untapped Data Sources

Data cannot be helpful if left hidden or ignored, so it is vital to know what data is entering your organization and from where. After some digging, many are surprised at how many sources of data they didn’t even know were pouring into their company. Dark data, or information that is unused, unstructured, or unknown, is the root of this problem. Consider a modern car that has 30 processors inside of it. Every action that car takes, whether it’s the length of time a turn signal is on, the degrees the steering wheel rotates, or the pressure of the brakes, is data that can be recorded and analyzed for insights. This holds true for your business, regardless of industry. Every process that happens under your roof is likely producing a piece of data that can be reviewed.

Further, consider that a massive 80-90% of all data is unstructured. That means there are troves of raw data entering servers and remaining untouched. Attending to dark data requires looking in the right places, and that begins by asking employees the right questions about the tasks they complete to discern what data is being produced and where it is being housed. A big data talent shortage is making even this initial process a challenge, as it can become difficult for the inexperienced to uncover dark data and the alternative of locating an expert to hire is just as hard.

Recently, a large communications provider approached us with concerns about the visibility of their essential data during a migration. To ensure a smooth process, our team of 12 Data Analysts, three Application Developers, and one Database Administrator considered every potential stream of data and where it would go when migrated. Armed with this knowledge, they chose to install and utilize the right program to keep track of data as it moved, eliminating the chances that any information would go dark. While each case is unique, it often takes a skilled team to shine the light on all of an organization’s data.

Conducting an Accurate Analysis

When it comes to big data strategy and pain points, discovering and compiling useful information isn’t even half the battle. Accurately analyzing that information takes time and knowhow. Attempting to draw insight from a single piece of data separate from the rest will almost always produce an inaccurate view. Pieces of Information are dependent upon each other to provide context and an answer to the all-important question of “Why?” Without accurate big data analysis, even the best nuggets of raw data cannot be formed into gold.

For example, take this data center migration for a major hospital and health system. It took an expert team of 20 consultants to take on this large-scale project and discover an inaccurate inventory list within the data. Had they not accurately analyzed these pieces of information, then any other data even remotely related to inventory items would be erroneous and therefore misleading. It’s scenarios such as this that made a survey of 1,200 IT executives identify hiring IT talent with analytics skills as their top recruiting priority for the next two years.

Implementing Change

Those that are able to understand what their big data is telling them are already far ahead of the competition. However, the bridge between knowledge and action is a long and precarious one. If data points to a problem or gives an indication that an area can be more efficiently served, then these are opportunities that can only be realized once action is taken. Unfortunately, many organizations that make it this far stumble with the finish line in sight. Whether it is due to employees that are resistant to change, concerns over cost, or a lack of resources, there are more difficulties than solutions at this stage of the game.

A U.S. subsidiary of a $25 billion international banking and financial services institution recently faced a similar dataset dilemma. They understood that their enormous amount of data could meet the needs they required of it, but only if they could fully utilize it. Most importantly, they realized they could not successfully forge ahead on their own. Instead of attempting to implement new software with complex requirements themselves, they found partnering with experts in big data to be a cost-effective and fruitful solution.

Is Your Data Reaching Its Full Potential?

There is no clear highway overpass sign that will alert you when your big data reaches its full potential. The goal is not to reach an arbitrary data benchmark, but rather to learn what information flows into your organization, what it means, and how to use it to your advantage. Doing so requires avoiding big data mistakes and the knowledge that only proven big data experience can bring.

via Technology & Innovation Articles on Business 2 Community http://ift.tt/2vIb4qX