Microsoft vows to let partner companies keep their patents

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Microsoft has launched a new policy that means its tech customers will keep hold of any patent rights that come out of its partnerships. In a blog post, Microsoft president Brad Smith explained that the Shared Innovation Initiative is designed to rea…
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How to kick out companies that access your Facebook profile

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Facebook now lists in one place all the companies that you’ve given access to your profile info. This makes deleting this access a snap, right from your iPhone or iPad. You may have taken a silly Facebook quiz to find out which droid from Star Wars you most resemble. Just by doing so, you allowed […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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The Top 10 CRM Companies for Business Owners

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The market has become flooded with customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, making it incredibly difficult to narrow the field enough to find the right CRM software for your needs. If you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, however, the sheer number of options can be beneficial, allowing you to zero in and find the perfect fit.

Every business — theoretically, at least — has customers, but that doesn’t mean that every business needs a CRM. There are, however, a few different business models that will be able to realize significant benefits from an investment in CRM software. Those with sales teams will have an advantage when it comes to finding patterns in consumer behavior, and a CRM will help them identify the most effective steps of the sales funnel — as well as those that need more work.

A CRM solution will also help identify the most promising leads so your team doesn’t accidentally let them slip through the cracks. Any business that needs to market itself will benefit from these insights and the improved ROI brought about through a CRM, as will businesses looking to automate certain tasks that are taking valuable time away from other functions in the organization.

If your business needs to track leads, rank them, improve the sales funnel, and become more efficient, a CRM is a good place to start. There are hundreds of options out there. I’ve(or my team) has tried over 60 different CRM software tools. We decided to tell you which ones are the best according to us. To make things easier, this is post and list is more geared towards small to medium sized business owners.  

Top 10 CRM Companies for Business Owners

  1. HubSpot

HubSpot’s free version offers what is essentially an intro to CRM solutions, complete with an abundance of training guides and resources.

HubSpot Academy gives users access to valuable classes and certification programs to educate them on all aspects of running a business.

HubSpot takes the top spot, however, because of its wide-ranging capabilities — the CRM core has specific hubs for sales, marketing, and customer experience to bring the different sides and needs of a business together, eliminating silos.

  1. Spiro

Spiro’s secret sauce lies in its AI capabilities, which can speed up information processing and yield more effective relationships with clients. The solution also comes with a bot that can compile data from various sources, such as calendars and emails, to provide sales personnel with a to-do list that’s always up-to-date.

It also handles the data entry aspects of sales, freeing salespeople up to spend time nurturing relationships without losing the valuable data embedded in each call — in fact, Spiro’s reports have eight times the data richness of other reports.

  1. Hatchbuck

An ideal option for small business users, Hatchbuck helps manage contacts and automates follow-ups, tracking individuals as they move through the sales funnel and alerting you when prospects are ready to make a purchase.

Having sales and marketing working together prevents leads from going unnoticed, and this solution will get the job done without having to pay for more than what your small business truly needs.

Best of all, its integration with Zapier means small businesses don’t have to give up the tools they’re already using, and the platform provides smart insights into the sales and marketing data it collects.

  1. Salesforce

Salesforce’s cloud-based CRM solution offers an option that can cater to both enterprises and small businesses. Salesforce offers plenty of features and functionalities, including advanced analytics powered by its Einstein AI, project management tools, and customizable dashboards.

Its Customer Success Platform offers powerful apps that can help businesses develop a consistent e-commerce customer experience and collaborate on campaigns.

  1. ONTRAPORT

ONTRAPORT offers the “most powerful visual marketing automation and reporting platform in the world,” enabling small businesses to map their customer journey and utilize data to create visuals of trends and patterns.

Its Projection Mode uses predictive intelligence to anticipate what prospects and customers will do next and make decisions based on data. The platform’s automated workflow tools aim to help brands measure their work rather than create more of it.

  1. Insightly

Insightly is a great option for midsize businesses, and it offers a free edition so users can try the product out; Insightly also offers paying users upgraded features to keep it relevant as businesses grow and become more complex.

The platform provides relationship maps to help businesses adopt the best approach and tracks contacts’ contacts, creating organizational hierarchies to streamline communication. Insightly also automates workflows and creates milestones to keep teams on track.

  1. Zoho CRM

While it doesn’t offer the same degree of customization as many competitors, Zoho is a great value with an intuitive, user-friendly interface, making it possible to implement without bringing in a developer.

In addition, Zoho has a full suite of other business apps that will work seamlessly with its CRM. Its ominchannel focus features a conversational AI, Zia, as well as SalesSignals, which streamlines notifications and ensures businesses hit every customer touchpoint.

  1. Agile CRM

An affordable SaaS solution, Agile allows a team of up to 10 users to manage a collective group of 50,000 contacts for free.

Compared to other CRMs that can cost thousands of dollars per month, Agile CRM’s enterprise version is quite a value at less than $ 50 per user per month. Its all-in-one CRM package aligns messaging across an entire company and seals data leaks so organizations can make the most of their information. The CRM automatically creates tasks for salespeople and automates marketing features, helping teams save time.

  1. Pipedrive

Pipedrive is created with small business owners in mind, and the speedy setup and intuitive design mean that no training is required. The “light-touch sales platform” ensures businesses can get started using the product minutes after setup, and it uses a visual display to show how deals in the pipeline are progressing and help salespeople pinpoint their to-do tasks and deadlines.

Pipedrive’s automated tracking eliminates time spent on admin processes, and it builds action steps around what will move things forward in the sales funnel. Its strongest feature is its ability to be customized, allowing small businesses to fit the platform to their processes.

  1. SugarCRM

With a separate open-source edition that’s ideal for developers, SugarCRM differentiates itself with lots of custom options and exceptional customer service. It’s also supported on many different operating systems besides Windows and Mac OS, including Linux and Unix.

The CRM boasts the highest Net Promoter Score across major CRM providers; its Hint feature speeds up research prior to calls, and the platform collects information across the sales, marketing, and service functions to create consistency.

The exploding market for CRM solutions makes finding the right one difficult, but their popularity also shows how effective they can be. For businesses of all sizes, the right CRM software can transform an inefficient, disorganized process into a well-oiled, automated machine.

Start your CRM search with this list, and don’t hesitate to try a few out. Taking the time to find the perfect fit will pay off in the long run.

The post The Top 10 CRM Companies for Business Owners appeared first on ReadWrite.

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ACLU & others call for tech companies – including Apple – to sign four-point ‘security pledge’

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and six other campaign groups have responded to the Facebook privacy controversy by calling on tech companies to sign a ‘security pledge.’ The pledge asks companies to make four promises to their customers and users …

more…

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UK companies and residents will be stripped of .EU domains after Brexit

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The latest casualty in the UK’s impending departure from the European Union? Domain names ending with .eu.

As spotted by The Register, the European Commission announced on Thursday that after Brexit, any and all UK citizens and companies will be barred from owning .eu domain names. In a letter to stakeholders, the Commission, which is the legislative body of the EU, said: “As of the withdrawal date, undertakings and organizations that are established in the United Kingdom but not in the EU and natural persons who reside in the United Kingdom will no longer be eligible to register [or renew] .eu domain names.”

Exactly when these domain names will be taken away isn’t clear, but the Commission suggests it could happen on the date of Brexit…

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FCC wants to stop spending on gear from companies that ‘pose a national security threat’

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The U.S. maneuvers against China’s tech giants continue today with an official announcement from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that the agency may soon ban purchasing anything from companies that “pose a national security threat.” Huawei, ZTE and other major tech manufacturers aren’t named specifically, but it’s clear what is meant.

Pai lists the risk of backdoored routers, switches and other telecoms equipment as the primary threat; Huawei and ZTE have been accused of doing this for years, though hard evidence has been scarce.

The proposal would prohibit any money from the FCC’s $ 8.5 billion Universal Service Fund, used for all kinds of projects and grants, to be spent on companies beholden to “hostile governments.” Pai mentioned the two Chinese giants in a previous letter describing the proposed plan.

Both companies in question have strenuously denied the charges; perhaps most publicly by Richard Yu, CEO of the company’s consumer business group, at CES this year.

But warnings from U.S. intelligence services have been ongoing since 2012, and Congress is considering banning Huawei equipment from use by government entities, saying the company “is effectively an arm of the Chinese government.”

Strong ties between these major companies and the Chinese government are hard to deny, of course, given China’s particularly hands-on methods in this sort of thing. Ironically, however, it seems that our spy agencies are so sure about this in great part because they themselves have pushed for and occasionally accomplished the same compromises of network infrastructure. If they’ve done it, they can be sure their Chinese rivals have.

The specifics of the rule are unknown, but even a relatively lax ban would likely be a big hit to Huawei and ZTE, which so far have failed to make a dent in the U.S. phone market but still manufacture all kinds of other telecommunications gear making up our infrastructure.

The draft of the new rule will be published tomorrow; the other commissioners have it now and are no doubt reading and forming their own opinions on how to improve it. The vote is set for April 17.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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GoPro licenses camera tech to other companies amid sales struggles

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There's no question that GoPro is hurting: sales are struggling, its drone plans are dead and it's not clear that the company can survive purely on sales of action cameras like the Hero6. What's it going to do? Offer its technology to other companies…
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Apple climbs LinkedIn’s 2018 top companies to work list, sits in sixth place

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LinkedIn has released their annual list of the most sought-after employers, with Apple coming in at number six, up one position from last year.
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EU proposes strict new taxes on large technology companies

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The European Commission has unveiled radical measures to better tax technology companies with large operations in its member states. The first proposal would allow countries inside the EU to effectively tax profit that is created inside their borders…
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