Your killer SaaS app

Is your SaaS value proposition convincing enough without automatic data entry? 
Imagine you’ve just created the next ‘killer’ Software as a Service (SaaS) app and you are absolutely convinced your new software service is going to revolutionize a particular industry or solve a significant pain point for organizations all over the world.  You create some compelling sales and marketing materials with a heavy emphasis on Return on Investment.  After all, you have conviction that your service is going to help businesses decrease operational costs, improve worker productivity and provide much better access to information which all translates to achieving tangible payback on your customer’s technology investment.
So you’ve done your research, you’ve developed the software application; you created awesome marketing materials, assembled a sales team and created a terrific support structure but for some reason your totally revolutionary SaaS application just isn’t selling as well as you had hoped.  Do you think that you might be overlooking a feature or function that is so fundamental to providing tangible Return on Investment that customers simply cannot say “No” to immediately deploying your innovative solution?
whats missing_data capture
Time is money
I might really be overstating the obvious but employers pay employees to work, not do data entry.  Whether your core expertise is in accounting, customer service or mechanical, your employer pays you to spend a majority of your time focusing on your respective skills.  However, organizations often overlook the total amount of time that is consumed with such tedious activities such as manually entering data from a bank statement into an accounting system.  Or how many total hours field service technicians are spending collecting and entering work order data into an ERP system.  These are real, tangible costs that the organization is paying.  This directly relates to unrealized business productivity and effects the financial bottom-line significantly.  Time is money and time utilized manually entering data into systems is, quite frankly, a waste.
Use cases for Information Capture
Let’s take a look at a few use case scenarios and focus on Mobile Information Capture, specifically, since there is a lot of interest in this area and there is an abundance of data to support that this is one of the greatest opportunities to achieve quick return on investment.
First, consider the industry of Field Service technicians.  According to a November 2011 study by Dave Wood of Harvey Spencer Associates (HSA) entitled “A Study of the Mobile Capture Marketing in the United States”, he cites DF Blumberg Associates as sizing the Field Service market at $225 billion in 2011 and growing to $500 billion by 2018 with nearly half of the 3 million workers using mobile productivity solutions by then.  Since a good majority of these mobile devices will most likely be equipped with a camera this translates directly into a great opportunity to provide these workers with the ability to nearly effortlessly snap pictures of objects such as work order signatures, checks for payment, assessment photos or even invoices and then automatically have the data extracted from these images to populate database fields in a Field Service SaaS application.  Just to name a few of the Field Service benefits for Mobile Capture could be enhanced customer service, the ability to realize the payments quicker and, of course, improve overall worker efficiency.
In a second use case scenario, also taking data from the same Mobile Capture Market survey, consider the Transportation industry.  For the survey, they focused on Long Haul Trucking.  They found that this particular market featured 1.9 million trucks and 1.7 million deliveries daily.  The research showed that each delivery generated a packet of documents that must be captured for invoicing, with an average of 5 pages per packet.  This translated into a total capture volume of this market of 8.5 million documents PER business day.  The types of items that needed to be captured will slightly vary depending on the particular trucking organization, yet generally documents such as Bills of Lading, Trip Sheets, Scale Tickets and Vehicle Expense Receipts were common amongst most organizations.  After some calculation of the projected number of drivers that will have access to dedicated scanners or multifunction devices, the survey predicted that approximately 400,000 drivers will have only smart phones as their primary capture device.  This presents a terrific opportunity to capture all these documents DURING the trip instead of waiting until the trip is complete which could be days, or even weeks later.
The last use case scenario shared by the HSA survey was general Capture to Cloud.  This was predicted to be, by-far, the largest growth opportunity for Mobile Capture and anyone would be hard pressed to argue this prediction.  With the prediction of 2 billion smart phones by 2018 and cloud storage vendors competing like crazy for market share, it only stands to reason that these factors are going to contribute to huge growth for Capture to Cloud applications using mobile devices.
Bringing easy to use, yet highly-effective Ubiquitous Information Capture into the mix
Now that you have your killer SaaS app ready for prime-time.  Your story is polished and you are earning business because your SaaS application is addressing customer pain points such as decreasing operational costs, improving worker productivity and providing better access to information.   You can prove, without a doubt, a tangible Return on Investment with reduced labor costs associated with manual data entry and you recognize the unbelievable potential in the Mobile Capture market, so the question begs, ‘what do you do to make your SaaS application even more appealing to potential customers?’
current solution offering
‘Add Data Capture to you SaaS’ is the answer.  It’s really that simple.  The technology has evolved over the past couple years so that the technology offers extremely advanced features and functions that are completely transparent to the users themselves.  This helps achieve a pleasant user experience which helps drive adoption of the solution among users.  Additionally, the behind-the-scenes technology is performing tasks traditionally done by humans so the processing is highly effective from an automation standpoint.  The user simply snaps a picture and this technology can automatic recognize the type of document and will intelligently extract all the information from the image.
enhanced solution offering
With this new Data Capture capability not only will your SaaS application provide a much more elegant user experience but you can absolutely guarantee cost savings to your customers with the quantifiable amount of time that is recouped by not having users do manual data entry.  The benefits of your SaaS can be incrementally increased with this new Data Capture capability.  Overall you can offer a truly appealing ROI story before you even being to discuss all the wonderful capabilities of your particular application.  The additional features are just like icing on the cake to solidify the sale.

Total Hours x Dollars per Hour = Tangible Cost Savings

This helps achieve a few things in your favor as the preferred software vendor of choice:
* Encourages your customers to make a quicker decision on purchase and implementation of your solution because every day they choose not to make a decision they are squandering money and resources
* Helps differentiate your application from competitors with valuable business functionality that makes the user experience much more enjoyable and helps drive higher adoption rates
* The likelihood of selling more subscriptions to your customers is higher because they can justify adding more licenses due to the fact that they have proven ROI
So, are you ready to take your killer SaaS app to the next level with Ubiquitous Information Capture?


Coyote Lake Camping – August 16-18, 2013

IMG_6965There you have if folks, another successful camping trip in the books!  Brandee (my wife), Jack (our dog) and I packed up the car once again to make our second camping trip in three weeks.  The weather conditions were ideal; not too hot, not too cold and no rain in the forecast.  We were ready and eager to head-out on an adventure.  The anticipation in our house had been growing as Brandee and I were making our plans you could also feel that Jack’s eagerness to head into the wilderness was also building.

IMG_6966After several weeks of planning with a bunch of my technology-minded friends, we all packed up our gear and headed out to Coyote Lake Park for two nights and three days of fun, sun and socializing.  Coyote Lake was the same place Brandee and I were at a few weeks ago and we were nearly in the same location this time so we were well-prepared with knowledge of the campgrounds.  I reserved a total of three campsites.  Each campsite is big enough for 2-3 tents and Coyote Lake is also a dog-friendly campground so the finally tally of people and pets was as follows:

  • People:  17!
  • Pets:  7!

Yep, you got that right, 17 people and 7 dogs (pets)!  It was SO much fun with all the activity going on.  Never a dull moment.

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IMG_6972On this particular adventure we were joined by Marc (with his family, friend and three dogs), Semyon (with his family), Eugene (with his wife), Chris (with his wife and three dogs), and Ivan (with his family).

We all arrived at Coyote throughout the day on Friday afternoon so between 3pm and 8pm-ish most of the time was busy just helping get everyone setup and conformable with the settings.  By evening everyone was well prepared and ready to have a great time for the weekend.


semyon eugene kevin ivan coyote lake 08 17 13So all of us technology nerds arrive at the campground with either non-existent, or at the best, weak internet signal so this indicated our sincere dedication to disconnecting from the cyber-world and connecting with each other (face-to-face) as people.  Overall, this is absolutely what I enjoyed most about this particular excursion — the social interaction between all the groups was tremendous.  One of the most amazing events happened, by total coincidence, which was remarkable.  Four of us had worn t-shirts advertising different U.S. cities such as New York, Boston and San Jose.  I assure you this was not planned but it was quite a hilarious experience!


eugene kevin chris marc smoking cigars coyote lake 08 17 13One special moment that was absolutely noteworthy was that one of the camping participants (whom shall remain nameless) brought a bottle of nice Scotch and a few cigars for ‘the boys’ to enjoy. So we all gathered our lounge chairs on Chris’ camp site and talked about solving the world’s most serious problems (insert sarcasm here) as well as other topics way beyond my meager brains compute power. This picture does not pay true justice to all the fun of the event, however.  Not pictured are all of the other campers, friends and family that came to socialize together.  This was an absolute highlight for me to gather everyone in an informal setting and just being fun together.

A personal highlight of this trip was a long, roughly 5+ mile walk I went on with Semyon and his wife.  When I say long, I mean extremely long 🙂 but it was great fun.  Neither Jack nor I are used to so much physical activity.  Give me a computer keyboard and internet access and I’m wickedly active but long walks, I’m just not accustomed to.  We walked nearly the entire length of the lake and back!

IMG_7006I would like to say that Coyote Lake has some of the most wonderful and kind park rangers.  Every single one of them has been so kind and helpful.  Coyote Lake is highly recommended as a convenient place in the San Francisco Bay Area for overnight camping, day picnics, fishing or all sorts of water activities.

In summary, I would like to thank everyone (and of course their willing families) for such a great memory.  This was the sort of adventure that lasts a lifetime.  So much fun and I can’t wait to do it again very soon!

Additional Photos of our fun:

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Sharen Neal, Lifetime Achievement Award, NAMIPC

NAMI – Placer County



IMG_6957Today, August 15th 2013, my mom, Sharen Neal, received a well-deserved lifetime achievement award from National Alliance on Mental Illness association of Placer County (NAMIPC –  It was so wonderful that Loretta alerted us in advance of this event so that we could plan to be there in-person.  This was a regularly scheduled meeting for NAMIPC but Loretta (President of NAMI – Placer County) added a twist by adding a special ceremony before their regularly scheduled meeting for my mom and Pauline.

IMG_6952It was very special and they presented both Sharen and Pauline with an awesome/custom-engraved plaque recognizing their years of service and then we all had some delicious celebratory cake and drink.  Of course neither woman went looking for recognition like this; rather personal situations drove them to commit their lives to helping others.  I admired both Pauline and my mom for their commitment to the cause of improving the welfare of the Mentally Ill because it is such a vicious condition.  It’s hard to diagnose, difficult to treat and challenging to treat in the proper way (especially with such limited resources).  It simply is a lifetime affliction for most and more research/education on the topic needs to be forthcoming so we can better address the needs of those in-need.



Click the banner link above to learn more about NAMI – Placer County 

For those who might not know, my mom has been a relentless advocate on behalf of the Mental Ill of Placer County (California, in the Sierra Foothills where they live).  She has been a strong advocate for rights and due-process.  Her life is dedicated to making others lives better through her advocacy in the association.

While I’m not exactly sure how many years she was involved in NAMIPC as a volunteer serving in several capacities, the fact-of-the-matter is that she will most likely always be involved in some capacity.  To help others is simply in my mom’s DNA and I absolutely love her for this!


It was quite the feat to pull-off getting everyone organized but my wife, Brandee, managed to pull it off perfectly, although there were a few close-calls considering the constrained time considerations.  This is how it went down.  First, my older brother, Mike and his wife, made the trip from Santa Rosa.  Then my younger brother, John, made the trip from Chico and, finally, Brandee and I made the trip from San Jose.  So, as you can see, this was a weekday (Thursday afternoon) collaboration with many participants, from various parts, that typically does not happen.  However we were all determined to be there for this great event and we wouldn’t let anything stand in the way;  so we did it in honor of Sharen!

Pictured from left to right:  John, Sherry, Mike, Floyd, Sharen, Kevin
(behind the camera = Brandee)

Mom, we, and especially on behalf of all those whom you have helped in life previously, as well as that you will help in the future, appreciate your passion and commitment to helping the Mentally Ill!  Thanks so much from everyone!!!