SaaS accounting vendor SaaSu, rolled out a new update recently with some interesting and useful new features. Some highlights are as follows;

Saasu Catch – That new little box in the top left corner has more power than your realise.
Capture all those snippets of information in one step. No more sticky notes and stray dockets. We call it Catch. Anything you type becomes a To Do activity. Any activity can become a transaction or more. A simple s: in the front will also search google for your term. All your reminders, to dos, research notes, expense claim dockets, names and numbers, notes, time sheets, meeting minutes, project tasks anywhere on web or mobile text message
Type & Tab
Keyboard only functionality (a nod to data entry clerks everywhere)
Google Search, Product Search & Maps Integration
Some really good mash-ups here that provide some really good business intelligence functionality to SMEs
Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Bebo, Orkut Integration
Search all the big social networks with just one click. Stay in touch with your contacts and research new employees, prospects, partners, suppliers and more.
Built In Connector for CRM Salesforce.com
The world’s best online customer relationship management system salesforce.com is now automatically connected if you wish. This feature has been available in Beta for some time but is now widely used.

Most SaaS vendors tend to roll stuff out without much warning, users tend not to have any real knowledge of the development roadmap. My belief is that for core business functionality applications (accounting, ERP, CRM, HR etc) giving users and idea of what is coming and when is a really positive, transparent and open thing to do.

It’s a model that more vendors should follow.

I’m stoked to see that SaaSu have announced some coming refinements due for Q2 2008 deployment;

Customer Self Service For Your Customers
Available for all your customers so they can get their own sign-in (free) and reprint their invoices or view, print and save their own customer statement for transactions conducted with you. This feature is switched on by default for all new files, existing Saasu customers should go to settings to enable Self Service.
Customer Self Service For Saasu Customers
Available for all Saasu customers past, present and future. You can sign in and reprint invoices or view, print and save your Saasu customer statement.
UPS/FedEx/Courier Tracking Integration
One click on a PDF invoice and you clients can see where that package is that you were sending them. also available inside saasu for you to use and inside saasu self service for your customers.
Learn Faster & Reduce Training Costs
Extended use of screen shot mini-training videos for self education as your go in each to do 3-5 minute segments, improved online visual cues, icons, help and more.

All in all there some good solid functionality coming through from SaaSu, it’ll also be interesting to see what Xero rolls out in the next few months.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

7 Comments
  • Falafulu Fisi |

    Some really good mash-ups here that provide some really good business intelligence functionality to SMEs.

    Can someone from SaaSu elaborate a bit more on this business intelligence claim? Perhaps, a few lines to describe of how SaaSu product does it.

    I suspect the misuse of the buzz term business intelligence here either deliberately or perhaps being ignorant of what the term really means. Using buzz words these days, sell products. It is Ok, if it is true, however when it is frequently used to mislead, then you have to question the motives of those who are making the claim.

  • Thanks for the mention Ben!

    @Falafulu. Wikipedia… “technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information”.

    Business Intelligence are actually words Diversity wrote possibly when cutting down our long form release notes. To Ben’s defence, we do everything in the definition above so I’ll leave it at that. Cheers.

  • Cheers Marc – Business Intelligence means just that – the collection and manipulation of various forms of data of note and use to the business.

    I’m not sure what definition you lay claim to FF but I’m using the literal one – straight out of the Oxford Dictionary (being a child of the 70s and all!)

    Business

    • noun 1 a person’s regular occupation or trade. 2 work to be done or matters to be attended to. 3 a person’s concern. 4 commercial activity. 5 a commercial organisation. 6 informal a difficult or problematic matter. 7 (the business) informal an excellent person or thing. 8 actions other than dialogue in a play.

    — ORIGIN Old English, “anxiety” (from BUSY + -NESS); the sense “a duty”, from which other senses developed, dates from Middle English.

    intelligence

    • noun 1 the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. 2 a person with this ability. 3 the gathering of information of military or political value. 4 information gathered in this way.

    — ORIGIN Latin intelligentia, from intelligere ‘understand’.

    Thus business intelligence = acquiring and applying knowledge to a commercial organisation

  • Falafulu Fisi |

    Business Intelligence comprises of many disciplines, but there are basically 2 main categories. One is deductive-based (DB) and the other is inductive-based (IP). DB applications are mainly user-query-based, ie, the user formulates a query (ie, a hypothesis), then test it in order to validate whether it holds or not.

    DB covers many applications that includes, SQL-based & dashboards, OLAP, etc… The intelligence lies on the user’s interpretation ability (who formulates the query in the first place) or the software designer who made those functionalities available in the application , such as to display the query results on a dashboard. This means that the application has no intelligence at all. If the user is dumb , in this context, dumb is used to mean that if the user doesn’t know what to formulate for his/her hypothesis or query then the unintelligent software tool is not going to help the user by giving something back that was not asked for, since the user must formulate a hypothesis/query in the first place. The result of the query that is returned to the user, is used by the user to validate what he/she has asked for or think of what it should look like, ie, either confirm his/her hypothesis or reject. Eg, a user query an application to see if the sales figure for first quarter, 2008 is projected to be in periodic fluctuation, increasing or declining. That’s it. The result that is displayed on the dashboard (or any pre-calculated metrics) are for the user to interpret. The app is not going to say anything else that was not queried. The user can do a detail drill-down on a specific attribute on the dashboard, but still, the final understanding or interpretation of the figures is done by the user. If the user is less intelligent, then God help that company that uses such software, since if the user makes a wrong call in his/her interpretation, this might lead to some disaster in the business (whether financial, operationals, etc…).

    On the other hand IP covers applications that are mainly data-driven and this includes Business Analytics, Data Mining, Predictive Modeling, etc… Here, the user doesn’t have to formulate a hypothesis as a priori. Just throw the data into the application and all sorts of hidden predictive patterns are revealed to the user. The user never asked (or queried) for those hidden predictive patterns, those hidden nuggets of knowledge were automatically induced from the data itself. See, the user doesn’t need to be intelligent , since the new knowledge revealed to him/her by the application are more likely to be more realistic compared to whatever his/her prior assumptions were. In this case, the intelligence lies on the ability of the application to find the hidden knowledge and connecting the dots, which were non-obvious to the user.

    A clear analogy of deductive-based versus inductive-based knowledge acquisition is best summarized in the following video (originally from Jim Donovan’s blog). Watch it then think about it.

    Awareness Test

    The watcher of this video is already given a query or formulating a hypothesis to validate?

    Query : How many passes does the team in white make?

    The watcher (this including myself when I first watched it), completely missed the moon-walking bear, because that piece of information was not part of the query anyway. You only expect to get what you asked for, and not anything else that you didn’t ask for. This is the shortfall in deductive-based tools, is that you missed vital informations because you were not asking for it. For some watchers who might be aware of the whole scene, while counting the number of passes that the team in white is making, have the ability to capture everything else in that scene including the moon-walking bear , where spotting the moon-walking bear wasn’t asked or part of the query. This is the advantage of inductive-based tools, that it can throw informations at you that you never asked for, because it might turned out that those informations are vital in running the business or perhaps give an advantage over your competitors.

    Some business intelligence tools just adopt the DB methodology alone, some adopt IB and some (not many) adopts both. Vendors which adopts both, will survive in the long run.

    PS: I am a member of the industry expert group which is currently drafting JDM-2 (Java Data Mining version 2) for the official Java technology and we’re encouraged by the lead-spec (from Oracle), that we try to write articles or clear the confusion in the general public about software which claim to do business analytics but actually, they’re just OLAP based tool, which is what not business analytics is about. The reason for this is that, we don’t want vendors who have JDM compliant tools to be lumped together with inferior OLAP-based systems.

  • @falafulu. I’d post this sort of detail to your own blog and link back so bens content isn’t hijacked by off topic content.

  • Falafulu Fisi |

    Marc, this is not off-topic at all, it is in fact on-topic, besides I don’t have a blog. By the way, Ben is free to delete any comment that I have made on his blog if he thinks it is off-topic.

    I will continue to criticize misleading marketing hypes about any software products, since the general public are not knowledgeable about buzz terms originated or used in the software industry. If there is no counter-balance to the hypes (as something I often do on the internet) via critiques, the internet readers & consumers would be easily taken for a ride by the vendor who is hyping up the product. Isn’t that what web-2.0 that you so like is all about? That is Online opinions, critiques, counter-arguments, etc…

    Finally, well done to the milestone you have achieved so far in the development of your product, but please allow critiques that are directed at your product, since it only helps to improve its development. If no one is critiquing your product, then there is nothing to be further developed into it, since it could be regarded as a job done.

    I do consult in the area of Business Intelligence here in Auckland such as tool-selection or algorithm development for customized application and although I don’t know anything about accounting, I am sure that I can suggest to you some features (perhaps for functional enhancement in your product development) that you may have never heard about.

    If you want to ask any question or my opinion about business analytics, financial modeling, inductive algorithms, etc, etc,… perhaps it is something you have in mind that you’re exploring for possible inclusion in your product development, then you’re welcome to drop me an email. Ben has got my email.

  • @falafulu. get a blog it will suit you, its an awesome stage. not having a go at you btw. dont take it the wrong way, just trying to keep blogging as a whole nice and lean to save everyones time. cheers.

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