The benefits of being online

The biggest benefit of SaaS, as I see it, isn’t the fact that it’s available online and anywhere. Rather it’s the added value that connectivity brings.

A great example of what this can mean in practice comes from the Xero update which came out today. Xero now allows a couple of interesting features;

Click to (Skype) call

Unified Communications (UC) is the way of the future. Imagine being able to click to call, to SMS or to Skype from within your application. Xero has gone half way there with the roll out of click to Skype functionality. Of course it only works when the receiving party has Skype – and it’s be nice to see some functionality for IM or traditional calling – but it’s a step very much in the right direction.

contacts-skype

Contact Links

Xero also added the ability to build own custom links to a CRM system directly from within the app.  Users can set up Contact Links under their Organisation settings. Xero has also created a link builder that reportedly makes it easy to match contact fields inside Xero to other systems.

contactlinks

It’s good to see some of the network, and networked effects coming through from Xero – still a long way to go but they’re getting there

12 Comments
  • In fairness, these features could be added to MYOB or any other accounting app too – there’s nothing specific about them that requires that the app be SaaS based.

    The advantage of course, is that Xero are able to roll out these new features every couple of weeks without users needing to do anything. Whereas if MYOB added this functionality tomorrow (which it could) then users would have to go through the rigmarole of downloading and installing the update, and have to deal with all the associated risks of upgrading desktop software.

  • Agree with your points Stuart but there is somehow something cleaner and nicer and more extensible in doing it with an online product. Or maybe that’s my evangelism getting in the way of reason?

  • True, it’s cleaner and nicer looking in Xero, but that’s also because Xero have an awesome interface. Don’t forget that Skype itself is a desktop app, so if Xero really wanted to be completely web-based, they could use an online VOIP solution like Jajah which requires no desktop software – http://www.jajah.com/products/

  • Good point Stuart – reality is Xero need to provide tools that the mass market will use – Skype is mass market way more than Jajah

  • Actually Jajah is way more ‘mass market’ than Skype as it requires no software and works with every telephone in the world. (But I know what you’re saying…)

  • @stuart – wipes sweat off brow – phew thought I was going to be lashed there….

    Yep – you know what I mean – mass accessibility does not equate to mass market

  • “Of course it only works when the receiving party has Skype”
    Hey Ben, it actually works with SkypeOut to landlines/cellphones too – just ensure you format the Skype field correctly, i.e. “+644…” and it will initiate the SkypeOut call.

  • @Jason

    Touche – I stand corrected (although the usage of SkypeOut compared to standard Skype must be astronomically lower – no?)

  • @Jason – that’s true, but the field asks for a Skype name so it’s not obvious that you can put the number in here. And if that’s the case, why not just add the Skype button next to the other phone number fields?

  • You can make a phone number clickable in any web page by using a skype: URL – and I presume it’s what Xero is doing.

    The format is as follows:

    skype:+1111111111?call – starts a call with the number (this one works with Skype names too)
    skype:+1111111111?sms – opens a new SMS window with that number
    skype:skypename?userinfo – opens a Skype user’s profile (doesn’t work meaningfully with phone numbers)
    skype:skypename?chat – opens a new chat window with that Skype name (doesn’t work with phone numbers for obvious reasons)

    I hope that’s helpful – I’m sure I can dig out the full specifications if you’re interested :)

  • Thanks for the advice Peter!

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