5 Financial lessons from Game of Thrones

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Did you know that the Queen of England visited the Iron Throne a few weeks ago (almost sat on it too)? That’s the level of impact the show has made in just four years. Game of Thrones is an epic fantasy series which centers around the battle to capture the Iron Throne, the symbol for ruling over the seven kingdoms of Westeros. It has been universally acclaimed as the best series by fans and entertainment critics alike. Some fans even want the writers to be knighted (including me!).

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For those of you who have watched the show, there are some crucial finance lessons you can take away, aside from the numerous plot twists and excitement. And those who haven’t watched it yet, have no idea what they are missing. Here are five finance lessons from our favorite TV show (Season 4 spoiler in the 5th point). Read more

What I learned from working remotely with cross-cultural teams

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For about six years now, I’ve been working in a cross-cultural environment. Our teams are split across offices in India and the US, with the majority of our development efforts based out of India.

I work remotely out of New Delhi, whereas most of our India teams work from Chennai. To give you an idea of how far these two places are:

In this unique situation, I’ve had the opportunity to work with teams across different locations and time zones. These differences no longer come in the way of teamwork and collaboration. In fact, they ​help us evolve and adapt our own business apps to make this combination work – no matter where you are and what time zone you’re working in, you’re always connected and in sync with other people.

What could get in the way though, are cultural differences.

It’s usually good practice to mix people from different cultures. Everyone brings in their own cultural perspective to the table, and people get to learn from each other.

But it’s tricky for people from different cultures to work together, especially when they’re not all working at the same time, under the same roof.

Tricky, yes. Impossible, no.

Here are a few things that can make it possible: Read more

Introducing First Draft App for Zoho Show – Presentations On the Go.

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Let’s say you are away from your office attending a client meeting in NY. You have a critical presentation to create and deliver at your office in CA , the next day. With a tight deadline and a busy tour schedule, the airport lounge suddenly becomes your ideation hub (minus, of course, the resources and luxury at hand in an office). As  first-cut ideas start evolving, you realize you need something more than your mind to structure and save presentation slide concepts for further reference.

Luckily, you are carrying a laptop. You think you are saved until you realize that it is indeed frustrating to open, boot and use your clumsy laptop to write something every time an idea pops up! Certainly not the kind of situation you wish to be in (especially with an important presentation lined up).

What could help you, though, is a tool as efficient as a pocket book, something you could carry around and use effortlessly to type your ideas, wherever you are. How about a presentation tool that fits in your pocket?

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Resume Extractor- Source Candidates Instantly!

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An average day in the life of a recruiter is not an easy game. With candidates scheduled to be interviewed, resumes ready to be filtered, and potential hires to be sourced, time becomes a holy grail. Not to mention that scouting for candidates through a number of job boards, websites and multiple other sources most often can seem like a herculean task.

But now with Resume Extractor, the extension from Zoho Recruit, you can keep those worries shelved. No more downloading, converting or manual entering of candidate information. You can parse resume from any web page at a click. To those who are wondering what an extension is, its an add-on, a button on the address bar that provides a shortcut to the application you are using.

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Zoho Books is now Multilingual!

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Today, most online accounting software products support only English. And although a cloud accounting software might make accounting a lot easier, some features may have terminologies that would be slightly difficult for non-English speakers to understand. The last thing you would want is to miss out on a wonderful feature that is lost in translation.

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We have customers from across the globe, and we want to serve them better. We are thrilled to announce that Zoho Books will now support ten more languages (and it’s not  limited to just invoices and estimates but available for the whole product).

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Zoho Survey – Get in touch with respondents instantly with E-mail Triggers

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Do you need to contact your respondents as soon as they complete your surveys? Ever felt the need to send out a thank you message to your respondents for taking your survey? Well, you can when you set up email auto-responder aka an email trigger.

How does it work?
It  is an auto response mechanism that triggers an email to the recipient,  whenever a respondent completes a survey or when a response meets the condition you set. Here are some ways you could use an email trigger.
•    Thank a respondent for taking your survey.
•    Set it up to receive an email when a survey is complete.
•    Trigger an email to your team or a group of people.

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The Paradox Of Choice: What Do Jam, Apple & Zoho Have In Common?

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“There are now 9 different kinds of bread being sold at the store? I don’t like having so much choice in life. It’s frustrating!”

When my friend told me this, I thought he was crazy. How can too much choice ever be a bad thing?

Let’s explore.

The paradox of choice states that the more time you spend analyzing your choices, the less happy you are with them. We deal with this paradox everyday.

Psychologists have tried to understand this paradox more.

paradox-of-choiceThe Jam Analysis:

This was a popular experiment by Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University, in 1995. ​Professor Iyengar and her team set up a booth of Wilkin & Sons jam in a market. Every few hours they changed the number of varieties they put on display from 6 to 24 jams.

They found that about 60% of people sampled from the larger selection as compared to only 40% from the smaller selection.

But what about purchases? Only 3% of those who sampled the larger selection of jams made a purchase. In comparison, 30% of those who sampled from the smaller selection made a purchase.

For those interested, this New York Times article covers the research in some detail.

This paradox of choice is something the software industry has also been wrestling with for some time. Apple released a simplified version of its wireless router software that removed many of the advanced menu of choices that users found too confusing.

Another famous example is the “Off” option on the old Windows Vista. From the start menu there were a staggering nine different options to choose from. 2 icons, plus 7 menu items. 9 different options to shut down your computer? That’s bonkers!

Samsung is now on overdrive launching numerous tablets. Since the start of 2014, Samsung has announced 11 models of Android tablets. In addition, ​Samsung still sells 11 different tablets that they launched earlier. For those who haven’t lost count yet, that is a remarkable 22 tablets! I’m probably forgetting a few too. Just imagine how much stronger Samsung, ​and its vaunted support, would be if they focused on just a few products.

Looking internally, ​we at Zoho, too were guilty ​of overburdening and confusing our customers with numerous choices. Zoho projects used to have 8 different pricing plans broken down into monthly, quarterly, half yearly and yearly. That makes it 32, ​yes, 32, different pricing plans!

zprojects-old-pricingWe learned from our mistakes, and reduced the pricing plans down to a simple 4.

So, what’s the solution?

Here’s the thing: choice is useful only when it means something. Flooding consumers with hundreds of variations of the same basic concept, a la Samsung, simply causes confusion and dilutes the brand. There is no exact science that says you should limit your product offerings to 5 or 7 choices. More important is to offer choices that have some unique value in their own way and to make the ​decision-making process effortless and enjoyable.

Too often, products do not have a clear well-established value proposition. Consumers will always pay for what they find valuable. The key is in clearly establishing what the value of the product is.

A good example of this is the way in which Apple markets the iPhone. Their commercials show the product being used in a situation or use case, thus clearly establishing its value.

If you’re struggling with deciding how many choices to offer, a good practice to follow is continuous A/B testing. Launch your product or plan one at a time, gauge the response to it and make a decision accordingly. ​That way, you avoid overburdening your customers with too much, and you give them a simple option with a well-defined value proposition.

P.S: If you’re interested in learning more about the paradox of choice, here is a great TED talk by Barry Schwartz.