Author: S. Ramasray
BizFusion Version 2.0 BizFusion turned five on January 1, 2014.
And April 2, 2014 marks another major milestone in the short history of our company.
Today, we're launching BizFusion Version 2!
Version 2.0 is a completely new application.
We took the lessons learned from developing version one and created a completely new
system from the ground up. Why did we do this?
Why did we rewrite an application that was already working?
Let me explain by giving you an analogy.
Think of the first version of BizFusion as a single storey house.
This single storey house was more than adequate for version one, but we started to
stack features on top of version one, features that we had never planned for when we
developed the original system. This meant that we had to stack additional stories on top
of our house. And at a certain point, the foundation of our house started to strain
under all the extra weight that we had put on top of it.
It was time to start fresh, it was time to lay down a new foundation.
We needed a 10 story flat for version two, but we designed our new system with growth in mind.
This means that we can easily grow BizFusion into a 100 storey skyscraper without straining
There's always a risk associated with rewriting an application from scratch.
Version one was a stable system, because we've been working on it for five years.
Version two still has to go through its maturing phase.
This means that we will see some bugs along the way, but the risk is worth it.
Our new foundation will enable us to easily push new features out the door.
And the rewrite also gave us an opportunity to remove certain unused features.
Over the years, we've gained valuable insight into the features that are most often used
and those that were barely touched.
For instance, we gave users the ability to store documents in their BizFusion application.
You could then link these documents to your transactions. This provided a perfect 'paper trail'
in your accounting system. It was certainly a handy feature, but most users simply used other
products to store their documents. That's why we decided to remove this feature.
We took a hard look at all the features in BizFusion and axed the features that were barely used
and we doubled down on the features that users love.
Inventory management is one of the the features that we're doubling down on.
Advanced Inventory Management
The strength of BizFusion lies in inventory management.
We're one of the few online accounting applications that has a completely integrated
inventory system. This means that your inventory is automatically adjusted with each
sale, purchase and return. This is an advanced feature that is often missing from
other online accounting systems. But it doesn't stop there.
Retailers, wholesalers and web shop owners love the additional inventory management features
that we provide. For instance, you can specify price and quantity rules in BizFusion.
These price rules enable you to automatically give discounts on orders.
A quantity rule enables you to automatically give a discount when a customer orders above a
With price rules, you can specify that certain customers get a discount when they buy
items in a certain product group.
This enables you to specify different prices for dealers and premium customers.
Again, this is not a feature that a whole lot of other vendors provide.
When they do provide these features, its often part of a premium subscription plan.
And these plans often cost you an arm and a leg. We decided to do things differently.
Today, we're also proud to announce that we've removed our tiered pricing structure.
We now simply charge a flat fee for everything.
You get a complete online accounting solution for just 129 euro per year. Only free is cheaper!
Version 1 customers will receive a discount on their bill if they paid in advance.
BizFusion is mostly used by small businesses, and most of these businesses are single person shops.
That's why we decided to focus all of our attention on this particular group of users.
Our new price is very affordable for this particular group.
We also removed any product selection headaches by simply providing every feature right out of
the box. Our new affordable pricing will certainly attract new users.
We also took this release as an opportunity to create a new look and feel for BizFusion.
BizFusion has a more 'flat' look and feel in this release.
We removed the gradients and colorful icons in the application interface.
This creates a very clean and sparse looking application, which is exactly what we wanted.
The new interface makes BizFusion more approachable for new users.
It's also a look that's more in line with the rest of the site.
Existing users will have no problem with picking up the new application.
Some power users will find some features missing in version 2.0, features that were
available in version 1. For instance, version 2.0 has no API.
We had high hopes for our API, but very few companies used it.
We will create an API for version 2.0 when user demand for it reaches a critical point.
Companies that require an API can still keep using version 1.
That's right, we're not abandoning version 1! But new users can only sign up for version 2.0.
We hope that everyone, in time, will switch over to version 2.0.
We further removed our integrated web shop module.
Most companies that use BizFusion, already have existing web shop products that they want to
keep using. It was a tough sell to get them on board with our web shop module.
Furthermore, most of our users are single person shops and they don't have large order volumes.
That's why most of them simply entered their sales manually into BizFusion.
That's why we removed the web shop module from version 2.0.
We will continue to support the old web shop module in version 1.
It's great to see how BizFusion has evolved over the years.
But any system starts to show some cracks when it reaches a certain age.
The same is true for BizFusion.
BizFusion had grown into a huge system over the years and it no longer matched our core
user audience. The foundation of our system was also strained to a point where it could not longer
support any new features. That's why a rewrite of the system was necessary.
With this new release, we've laid down the foundation of our future growth and success.
We know who our core user base is and we're doubling down on this group by slashing our prices.
Version 2.0 is a feature rich and affordable product and it will propel
BizFusion on a high growth trajectory!
Founder / Developer BizFusion
Author: S. Ramasray
Robots Love Advertising
Google announced on February 21 that it had bought 'Spider.io'. Spider provides online Ad
Fraud detection software and they managed to grab the headlines over the past few years by
exposing some major online advertising frauds.
Most online ad scams involve installing some form of malware on a user's computer.
Once a piece of malware is installed, it will open up invisible browser windows and visit sites
that have ads on them. This generates pageviews for the people behind the scams, and
pageviews generate advertising money. But the real money lies in ad clicks. That's why most
malware have evolved into programs that simulate user activity and eventual clicks on banner
ads. A user doesn't notice any of this, it simply happens in a background process of her
computer. And most computers are so fast these days, that a user doesn't even notice a
slowdown in performance while all these extra programs are running.
It has been estimated that almost a third of all online advertising clicks and page views have
been generated by malware. This number is based on the damage that exposed scams have
caused. In 2013, Spider uncovered a botnet that had hijacked 120.000 computers across the
U.S., it was estimated that this botnet was responsible for almost nine billion page views per
month. That's an astounding number and it spells major disaster for tech companies that rely
on advertising dollars.
Google makes most (if not all) of its money from online advertising.
If they can't prove that their banner clicks are from real humans, than they stand to lose a
whole lot of revenue. So what can a company do to combat online advertising fraud?
Well, we can start by assuming that most people don't like banner ads and simply don't click on
them. If a tracking cookie on a user's computer shows a love for advertising clicks, then that's
probably not a real person. And if cookies are disabled on a user's computer? Then simply don't
count the click as real. Payouts should be based on clicks that could be tracked.
Furthermore, we can tie user activity to an IP address. This provides a second line of defense
against malware that automatically clears the cookie cache on a computer.
These are just a few technical solutions, but there's also a business solution to this problem.
Companies should stop paying for ad displays on the web, they should even stop paying for ad
clicks. Online advertising should become more like direct sales. If you click on a banner ad and
purchase an item within 24 hours, then the publisher of that ad gets a cut.
This eliminates online advertising fraud, because a user must specify on his order which source
lead her to purchase the product. This is a double check to prevent malware from hijacking the
first click on an ad.
The direct sales approach is not applicable to all types of advertising. Some companies still
want/need brand awareness campaigns, but these campaigns are a total waste of money if you
go for the page view and ad click model. Ad agencies provide the counter argument that these
campaigns are cheap, even if almost a third of the traffic comes from fake accounts, but they
hide the fact that most people have developed a blindness for banner ads. So you essentially
lose 100% of the money that you've spent on an online campaign. So what the hell must a
company do to generate brand awareness? Television, radio and magazines. That's not as crazy
as it sounds.
Just think about if for a few seconds. What was the last banner ad that you remember?
Which banner ad made an impression on you? Probably none. But you do remember the
TV commercial that you saw during your favourite TV series. Advertising on the web can be, and
should be, more like direct sales. People are behind their computer, they have access to their
online banking, and if you can't entice them to purchase a PlayStation 4 with a 20% discount
within the next 24 hours, then they sure as hell weren't interested. So there's no need to pay
anyone in this scenario a single penny.
Web 3.0 is dawning. It's going to be the phase of the web where tech companies will no longer
depend on advertising dollars. Instead, your G-Mail account will cost you 10 dollar per year and
you will need an additional subscription for Google's suite of office tools.
Why would they charge you? Because companies have stopped paying for online advertising by
then. Online advertising is dead! Long live direct sales!
Founder / Developer BizFusion
Author: S. Ramasray
A few years ago, a colleague of mine bought the game 'Gears of War' (GoW).
He complained that he got stuck in the game after just two minutes of playing it.
How did that happen?
Gears of War uses a unique cover based game system.
You can hide behind certain objects in the environment and use them as cover positions.
This enables you to pop up from behind cover, fire a few rounds at your enemies and then
quickly drop back into cover as soon as they return fire. It's a hugely popular game
mechanic, because it's a more realistic representation of a fire fight and, hell, it's just plain
fun. GoW wasn't the first game that used this cover based system, but it is credited for
introducing this gameplay mechanic to a mass audience.
Frame of Reference
The cover based mechanic was something completely new for most people that picked up
the game. That's why people had to learn a completely new control system in order to play
the game. And here's where my colleague ran into a brick wall. He had been playing video
games his entire life. So he had built a certain set of assumptions of how the controls in
most games worked. If you've ever played a game like Mario or Sonic, then you know that
you have to press a 'jump button' to get over obstacles. That frame of reference did not
apply to GoW. The first time he used an object for cover, he got stuck to the object and could
not get over it. He pressed every button on the controller, saw that nothing worked, then
grabbed the manual in total frustration.
Learn the Trick
The manual gave the answer. He had to press 'Forward' and hit the 'A' button to get over
obstacles. This was not something he expected. Most gamers don't read the manual,
because they expect that all games use a similar control scheme. His prior experience and
assumptions led to his frustration. It's the same way with business software.
People have an existing frame of reference for software and they expect that every
application conforms to their expectations. If it doesn't, then your software isn't 'intuitive'
in their view. If your software does something different from the established norm, then it's
your job to educate your audience. The developers of GoW knew that they had failed in
teaching their control mechanics to their audience. That's why Gears of War 2 showed 'huge
tooltips' as soon as you got behind a cover object.
If you've been following BizFusion for a while, then you know that we starting introducing
tooltips to get our new users up to speed with our application. Most of our users are first
time entrepreneurs and many of them don't know what a balance sheet is. And like most
users, they don't want to plough through a manual to learn how to accomplish something.
That's why we created video tutorials on how to accomplish most tasks in BizFusion.
Developing intuitive business software isn't easy. People have expectations of how your
software should work and immediately stop using your application as soon as it presents
an obstacle that they can't 'jump over' by pressing the 'A' button. The users that stick
around to learn that they should press 'Forward plus A', are the ones that will truly enjoy
your software. The trick lies in helping them along the way with 'huge tooltips'.
Founder / Developer BizFusion
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