No competitor in the SaaS CRM space has a Mac-speciﬁc product, and some don't even run on the browser of choice for Mac users, Safari. Elements SBM™ was designed with a decidedly Mac ﬂavor, thus having strong appeal to Apple computer users.
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San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) January 14, 2008
Ntractive LLC announced today it will begin previewing a new type of business computer application here at the Macworld Conference and Expo, January 14-18 (Booth #W-4524). The firm's first product, Elements SBM™ (small business manager) for the Mac OS, is a unique "Hybrid Application" combining flexibility with unprecedented ease of use.
"Until now, this hybrid approach has only been available in the consumer world - Apple iTunes® being the prime example," said Dale Jensen, Ntractive's CEO. "Now the concept is really getting down to business." He said the firm's Hybrid Application platform has been in development for more than four years. "With the introduction of Elements SBM™, we have a visually elegant and technically innovative solution that allows small business owners and their employees to quickly become more productive."
Before today, the small business user had to make a fundamental choice: the familiarity and ease-of-use of the desktop application, or the power and affordability of the "available anywhere" software-as-a-service (hosted) web application. But that meant giving something up. Elements SBM™ bridges the two together in an environment that blurs the lines between what is running on your desktop and what is running over the web - which means you no longer have to settle for just one or the other.
Elements SBM™ is designed to automate, organize, and improve business processes and financial management in small to midsized companies. The initial target is Mac OSX-based businesses with 5 to 50 employees, estimated to number 20,000 in the U.S. alone.
"This product is a significant improvement over existing web and desktop applications for small business management," said Jensen, also a cofounder of the firm. "Software-as-a-service represents the future of the software business, and we believe our 'Hybrid' platform is a key refinement of that future."
Small businesses represent the largest growth segment of the U.S. economy. The biggest challenges to firms in this class, beyond capital, are organizational and managerial. The single proprietor with a successful business, for example, often has a difficult time moving to a multiple-person operation.
"We believe that organizational software is the key to small business success - specifically, software that is easy to use, complete, and inexpensive for the entrepreneur," said Jensen. "Many years of working with small businesses, both our own and our clients', led us to develop a product that meets these needs in an innovative and attractive fashion."
The company is initially focusing on the Mac OS X platform, which is experiencing significant growth (30% in the past year), and in which the company's founders have decades of experience developing and marketing small business applications. Following initial rollout, Ntractive's product development roadmap will focus on mobile, international, and Windows® Vista™ environments. Because of the nature of a web-based product, the company need only write a small, platform-specific amount of code in order to bring the product to additional platforms.
Benefits for Small Business
By automating many common business practices, such as sales, contact management, and accounting, Elements SBM™ affords small businesses the ability to reduce overhead, improve productivity, and provide functionality that would be difficult or impossible in a non-hosted scalable application. Other features, such as automated backups, offsite data warehousing, and anytime-anywhere access to real-time reports, are very attractive to the cost-conscious small business owner.
Elements SBM™ is a management tool for any small business that wants to improve its processes, resource allocation, and bottom line. "We had several goals when we began the design and implementation of Elements SBM™," said Justin Bartak, cofounder and CTO. "The system had to directly address the needs of small business in the areas of process improvement, workflow automation, and enhanced communication between employees at all levels of the business."
(For a gallery of screenshots, please see: http://www.ntractive.com/site/gallery/.)
How It Works
Functionally, the system consists of a custom hybrid web browser application that runs on the client's computer, and a web server application that operates from the Elements SBM™ server. The client logs into the system from any computer anywhere - even an iPhone® - and instantly has access to company data, reporting, and communications with other employees. A sales representative, for example, could log in from a customer location, enter a sales order, confirm product availability, and email an invoice.
The purpose of the custom hybrid browser is not only to make development of the web application easier, but also to incorporate functionality that makes the web app more powerful and easier to use for the customer. For example, the custom hybrid browser supports "Drag and Drop" -- drag a "vCard" onto Elements SBM™ and it converts the vCard data to a contact record. Drag a photo from your hard drive or a photo-browsing application like iPhoto®, drop it onto the Elements SBM™ contact record, and the contact will now have the photo attached and stored on the web server.
(For more about how Elements SBM™ is different from other applications, see the PDFs and QuickTime™ movies here: http://www.ntractive.com/site/integrate/.)
Competitive Environment - Existing Solutions
By focusing on design as well as function, Elements SBM™ is a significant improvement over existing small business management systems. Its best-in-class design and reduced training costs are the result of an interface built from the perspective of user intuition, rather than expecting a customer to develop new habits. Utilizing cutting-edge Web 2.0 programming techniques, Elements SBM™ is an "always on, anywhere," multi-user Internet application that has the convenience and standards that users expect from desktop applications. Because the system has been designed in this manner from its very foundation, the company does not expect that existing competitors will be able to respond without a complete and expensive rewrite of their software.
"We're focused initially on a market that both lacks a deﬁned solution and demands an elegant response to the problem -- Mac OS X users," said CEO Jensen. "No competitor in the SaaS CRM space has a Mac-speciﬁc product, and some don't even run on the browser of choice for Mac users, Safari. Elements SBM™ was designed with a decidedly Mac ﬂavor, thus having strong appeal to Apple computer users."
The underlying Hybrid Web Application platform is the key to the whole system. Not only is it a fundamental improvement over existing technologies, able to provide desktop-level ease of use and functionality, it is proprietary, patentable technology that other software firms do not have, and will not have, without significant development efforts, even assuming that their existing systems can be retooled to support the advanced methodology that a Hybrid Web Application represents.
Beta Test and Rollout Plans
Ntractive is currently a pre-revenue, late-development stage company, and is preparing for a beta test of its product in first quarter 2008. To date, more than 500 companies have signed up to participate in this beta. The company will select early beta users from this list, and gradually expand the beta to include more of those who have signed up, before it moves to a full Phase I rollout of the product later in the year. Once the beta test process is complete, pricing will be based on an affordable per-user subscription model.
Phase II will focus on developing a Windows® XP and Vista™ hybrid browser, built on Apple's Webkit open-source project, which was converted to Windows® by Apple in June 2007. Because of the nature of the product, only the browser-specific features of the product (such as supporting Drag and Drop or storing passwords) need to be converted -- the bulk of the Elements SBM™ application will work automatically, without platform-specific code.
Press Conference at Macworld
More details about this product and its launch will be presented at Ntractive's press conference, Tuesday, January 15, 2008, from 3:00 to 3:45 p.m., in Room 105 of the South Hall of Moscone Center.
About Ntractive LLC
Ntractive is a software development company that has, over the past four years, developed a new and unique method of application development, the "Hybrid Web Application," which combines the best features of a desktop application with those of a web application, for unprecedented ease of use, expanded functionality, and power in an Internet-based application. The company's first product, Elements SBM™, is a software-as-a-service offering that is designed to automate, organize, and improve business processes for small to midsized companies. Based in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Ntractive is currently pre-revenue, in late-stage development, and recently received a first-round funding commitment from RAIN Source Capital, St. Paul, Minnesota. Ntractive is preparing for beta testing of its product in the first quarter 2008. For more information about the company, see: http://www.ntractive.com/site/company/.