Petition against them, hate them, or wish them dead; passwords are here to stay for long!

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In the last two weeks, the Petition Against Passwords movement launched by a group of US-based companies that sell password-less technology has been gaining widespread media attention across the world. Their mission is to collect every frustrated yell at forgotten passwords and make sure the organizations responsible hear them.

In the RSA conference in San Francisco early this year, James DeLuccia’s Passwords are dead created quite a buzz. At the conference, Zoho’s sister division ManageEngine demonstrated its Enterprise Password Management Solution, Password Manager Pro, and almost all the  visitors to our stand quipped: “They are talking about the death of passwords and you are demonstrating password management!

death-of-passwordsSo, we hear the vox populi loud and clear: Clearly, people are fed up with passwords. With the proliferation of online applications, a variety of passwords occupy each aspect of our life. Remembering dozens of passwords is impossible; storing them only invites trouble and managing them manually is a pain. With high-profile security breaches involving stolen online identities, all of us want to be rid of passwords. So, when someone talks about replacing  passwords, it’s only natural for people to get interested.

But, the million-dollar question is: Do we have viable alternatives if the passwords die finally?

Before going any further, here is some history on ‘death of passwords’:

For over a decade now, people have been discussing the death of passwords. In the same RSA conference in 2004, Bill Gates, the Chairman of Microsoft predicted the death of passwords. In 2006, he said that the end to passwords was at sight. Not just Bill Gates, but many other luminaries and industry analysts have been predicting the death of passwords.

However, in reality, the predictions haven’t yet materialized. Passwords are still the most prominent method of authentication till date. Alternatives to passwords, such as biometric authentication, iris authentication, facial  authentication, various forms of multi-factor authentications, and even  authentication through items like watches, jewellery, and  electronic tattoos, are all being discussed. Active research is also on to formulate better alternatives.

However, none of the alternative approaches have been viable for various reasons. Firstly,  passwords are very easy to create and are absolutely free.  Whereas, the alternate models are mostly expensive, require  additional hardware  components, are difficult to integrate with the  existing environment, and are not easy to use.

Interestingly, some of these alternative authentication methods have been cracked  even before they could be adopted widely.  Few years ago, a group  of researchers hacked faces in biometric facial authentication systems by using phony photos of legitimate users.

As  on date, a viable replacement for traditional passwords is not in sight! We may get one in the future, though. But, it will require considerable time for the new mechanism to be accepted and adopted. That means, traditional passwords are not going to die anytime soon; they are going to be around for  a while.

Passwords are not the problem; their management is

While raising our voices against passwords, we overlook the actual problem, which is poor password management. Due to the inability to remember passwords, users tend to use and reuse simple passwords everywhere. Users store passwords in text files and post-it notes; share credentials  among the team members; and pass them over emails or by word of mouth. Real access controls do not exist and passwords of sensitive resources and  applications remain unchanged for ages. Such bad password management practices invite security issues and other problems.

Use a password manager

While  the research to find an alternative to passwords continues, it would be prudent to deploy a password manager to safeguard your data. With a password manager, you can secure all your passwords in a  centralized repository; use strong, unique passwords without worrying about remembering them; automate and enforce password management best practices; control access to resources and applications; keep track of activities; and do much more.

If you are wondering which password manager to use, take a look at Zoho Vault.

Dashboard Spotlight: US Student Debt

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dashboard-spotlightIn recent times, there has been a lot of debate about the real value of college degrees. This seemingly-academic discussion assumes deeper significance given that college students have been – for a long time now – racking up tremendous volumes of educational debt. Sizable percentages of new graduates are beginning their professional careers deeply mired in debt that takes them a long time to pay off, if they ever succeed in doing so.

In the current context, given the precipitous state of the U.S. economy and the disquieting fact that about 37 million Americans are bogged down by student loan debt, an increasing number of people are beginning to seriously question whether the costs of college education have begun to dwarf the benefits. Read more

Which Kind Of Team Member Are You?

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Online collaboration tools are making it easier for teams to be better organized and more coordinated, to help them reach their team goals more efficiently. But collaboration and using the tool effectively also depends on team members and their ability to work as a team.

Each team member has a different mindset or thought process and getting everyone on the same wavelength can be quite challenging. Team leaders need to encourage team members, so that they adopt the collaboration tool more readily and work better as a team.

Here are a few kinds of team members you might have come across:

BozzillaBoss-ooka

This team member takes charge of the team a.k.a BOSS. Bozzilla lays down the rules and more often than not tries to doggedly convince or if that’s not possible confuse the team about certain decisions and how they are right. This team member however is prepared to take the blame, for any team mishaps or issues.

“Think Team” Solution:  Patience and a more passive than aggressive tone might help while trying to convince Bozzilla on what’s best for the team.

Side-KickGrumpy Grumpleston

The motto of this team member would be “ It’s the BOSS’s way or the highway!” Side-Kick will nod in agreement to everything BOSS says. Anytime BOSS looks vulnerable and is being cornered, Side-Kick will instantly jump to BOSS’s defense. This member is assured a place in the team by standing guard for BOSS at all times.

“Think Team” Solution: Get BOSS’s nod of approval, which will be a direct command to Side-Kick to step in line and work with the team.

The SaintThe Saint

This team member will be the most wise and practical member of the team.  Will be very knowledgeable and would be the one to counter BOSS’s decisions with rational arguments. If there is one person who can convince the BOSS, it is him.  This member is the one that holds the team together and is the rock that the team leans on during tough times.

“Think Team” Solution:  The Saint is already a team player and always thinks in the interest of the team.

Grumpy GrumplestonThe Zombie

“I should have been BOSS”, is what this team member broods over almost everyday! You will not find a more disinterested and critical person in the team.  Although very knowledgeable, getting Grumpy to share some knowledge is next to impossible, unless you literally beg for it. But if you get into Grumpy’s good books, consider it a boon because this member will be the most helpful person around.

“Think Team” Solution: Keep reminding Grumpy about how knowledgeable he is and how valuable his contribution is for the team.

Mr. Goody Two ShoesSide-kick

This team member will be the most social and diplomatic person in the team. Goody Two Shoes will try pitching ideas but will not push for them and agree to do whatever task is given, like it or not. This member knows how exactly to handle each member of the team and makes sure of being in everyone’s good books.

“Think Team” Solution: Tell Goody Two Shoes its NOT OK to be OK with everything and needs to strongly voice thoughts and ideas if they would benefit the team.

ZombieGoody Two Shoes

This team member like Grumpy Grumpleston will hardly get involved in team discussions. Zombie just goes with the tide and is prepared for ideas to be shot down. This member pretends to be oblivious to everything else and will always seem to be involved with work. Zombie may seem aloof but is very reliable when it comes to completing tasks.

“Think Team” Solution: LISTEN and be more open to ideas  or suggestions of Zombie but you also need to be a bit stern in asking him to get more involved with the team.

Were you able to relate with any of the above team members? You could even share with us some that you have in mind.

Disclaimer: These are just random observations and in no way is my writing targeted at any specific individual, who might think I have a bone to pick with them. Peace!

 

Why Responsive Email Design is Important for your Business

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responsive-email-template

PC Sales are down. Mobile adoption is high. Mobile traffic is increasing.
2013 can certainly be called the year of Responsive Design.

Mobile adoption has grown so much that we want everything adapted to mobile devices – email templates included! We at Zoho Campaigns understand the importance of this trend and that’s why we have made all of our pre-designed templates and layouts responsive.

So, what’s Responsive Email Design?

This concept makes your email templates look good on any device your recipient is holding – a smartphone, a tablet, laptop or even the desktop. The email automatically adjusts itself to the size of the screen.

Should you care about this? YES! and for good reasons: Read more

Build Communities. Share Knowledge. Create Happiness.

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A couple of months ago, we asked customers which tool/platform they used to build their business’ community. And, several of them mentioned Facebook.

To understand this better and put things in the right perspective, we spoke to a some customers at length. We realized that they preferred Facebook just because it was easy and free. It didn’t involve any additional learning curve. For most of the businesses we spoke to, it wasn’t the best solution. And, given a more convenient choice that’s free, they’d start using it right away.

Zoho Support Announcement

After that, we spoke to customers who hadn’t started building a community yet. A significant reason was convenience, again. They couldn’t do it all from a single place. Naturally, because of that, it would involve even more effort to build a community.

This was some fascinating insight for us. As always, we took this back into product development. Since then, we’ve been working on a community solution right within Zoho Support. Today, we’re really happy to announce precisely that!

The new Community module within Zoho Support lets you do some cool things like

- Moderate community posts and keep spam away
- Organize your community using categories and forums
- Automatically (or manually) add community posts as support requests
- Minimize redundant posts by suggesting similar existing posts
- Analyze how the community is growing and make improvements

Oh, and, it’s free and available on all our plans, including the free plan we announced recently.

Try it today and let us know what you think about it. Start building your community right away!

Just In : Project groups and enhancements in templates

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Imagine this: You’re working in a ERP based company that has projects running across departments like finance, invoices, and accounts. Now there needs to be a way to categorize these projects as separate groups i,e  put all accounts related projects under Accounts group to efficiently manage projects. With this latest update we’re providing this missing bit of functionality : the Project Groups

Starting today you can create projects and categorize them under a single group in Zoho Projects. But it doesn’t stop there, you also edit, delete and reorder project groups. By default projects that are not grouped are listed as Active Projects.

Here’s a snapshot of Project Groups in Zoho Projects

project-groups

Start dates in project templates
Feedback comes in waves from customers. Project start date option for templates is one of them. With this latest update, you can instantly set project start dates while creating a new project from an existing template. Furthermore, you can specify start dates in days/weeks/months for the tasks.

Learn more about this enhancement at Project Templates

project-templateWe’ve put together a user guide which helps you to get started with Project Groups

A quick note : The project groups feature is available across all paid plans for Portal Owners and Administrators of Zoho Projects.

Give it a try at http://www.zoho.com/projects/ and let us know your views as comments.

Want Loyal Customers? You Have to Earn Them

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friendly mechanic handshaking with familyI was stuck in traffic the other morning going to work. The right lane was closed for construction so the approaching vehicles were all corralling into the left lane. Unfortunately, at nine in the morning on one of the busiest streets in Austin, Texas, this process doesn’t happen quickly.

The vehicle in front me was a delivery truck for an Austin-based liquor store called Twin Liquors. I’ve seen these trucks countless times before, but I never looked too closely at the logo on the back. Funny what five minutes of stop and go traffic makes you notice.

The logo is nothing special. A circle with an illustration of the two founders — heads and shoulders only similar to a bust — but it was the line below them that caught my attention.

“Trust Twins.”

It’s as simple of a line as you can think of. Trust Twins. Trust our product. Trust our service. Trust us.

This phrase really stuck with me because of its transparency but also because of its ambition. Getting your customers to trust your products and brand is one of the most essential components for success. Essential, and yet oftentimes, the most difficult.

For small business owners, gaining the trust of customers and clients can make or break your bottom line. Just think about the places of business you frequent yourself. Why are you loyal to that brand or keep returning? Why do you recommend the company to a friend? Because you trust they will not only have the product or service you are looking for, but also trust you will be treated with respect. You trust that your presence and dollar is valued.

On the other hand, it’s incredibly easy to lose your customers’ trust by making mistakes. This can be anything from not delivering on a promise you made to not being honest with your customers or providing bad customer service.

So let’s look at some ways you can immediately start earning loyalty with customers.

Learn From the Big Boys

Okay, not everyone’s business will be as big as Coca Cola, Amazon or Apple, but that doesn’t mean you can’t study how they gain customer loyalty. In many cases, these companies have risen and stayed on top not because of sales or share in the marketplace, but because they have made it a priority to establish relationships and trust with its customers.

Former global marketing officer of Procter & Gamble Jim Stengel told Entrepreneur, “we’re seeing more of an emphasis on brands building emotional relationships with consumers because it’s powerful and it works.”

Need examples? Amazon, arguably the most trusted brand in America, earns its customers’ loyalty and trust by offering low prices, free shipping on many orders and a convenient check-out system so customers can shop and buy hassle-free.

Southwest Airlines breaks all conventional rules of the airline industry by not charging for checking bags to offering open seating and even having fun and engaging flight attendants who impersonate Elvis or sing the safety directions before take-off.

The fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A offers unprecedented customer service to every person who walks through their doors. Yes they have a tasty product and “invented the chicken sandwich,” but they also treat every customer with respect. Customers like to feel important and at Chick-fil-A, you feel like the most important person in the world. You trust that every time you walk in those doors you will be greeted with a smile and hear the words, “my pleasure,” from every employee.

Prove You Trust Your Customers 

Trust is a two-way street so before you can expect customers to trust your brand or product, they need to feel like you trust them. There are a number of companies that have success because they established trust with customers by first proving they believe in their customers.

High end department store Nordstrom has a reputation for offering great customer service by trusting customers returning items. In fact, the store was rumored to have taken back a set of snow tires despite never selling tires in the first place.

And while this story is somewhat a myth, Nordstrom has gained the trust of its customers by promising to accept items the customer claims are defective, no questions asked. And they deliver on that promise.

Realize Trust Takes Time

Building loyal relationships and trust with your customers doesn’t happen over night. Earning trust is not about doing something right one time. It’s about proving yourself over and over again with every customer who walks through your doors.

This includes making sure you are doing your job well day in and day out. From creating great products or offering exceptional services to being innovative in your field and keeping your promises, building trust happens across multiple platforms over consecutive months and years.

Don’t lose patience. Customers notice when companies deliver on promises, but more importantly, they notice more when companies fail to deliver. Study companies that consumers trust, as well as companies that have lost the trust of the public so you can begin developing quality relationships that keep your customers coming back time and time again.