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Treff LaPlante

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Pay-as-You-Go Services Poised to Explode

Saving money with technology

In the course of building custom software to manage a business process, you’ll frequently find the need for functionality another company has produced and is impractical for you to build.

You would never want to recreate a credit card processing gateway, a database of satellite imagery or a language translation system, for example. Instead, you would adopt the technology and absorb it into your application.

Traditionally, this has been expensive and time consuming.

First, you have to license the functionality. Then you have to pay developers to tightly integrate it into your application. And, if you are reselling the application, you need to pay royalties over time for each customer you bring on board, eating into your margins and increasing the costs at which you must sell.

But recently there has been an explosion of inexpensive, third-party pay-as-you-go services. You don’t absorb them into your application, you use them whenever necessary.

E-mail blasting is one example. For a very small fee, your application can give to a service a series of e-mail addresses and an e-mail template; the service will handle all aspects of getting e-mail properly delivered. In this way, you can mitigate risks of improperly managing your mail servers and subsequently getting banned from major e-mail providers like Comcast or Yahoo.

This is money well spent. And it’s much less expensive than hiring a systems administrator knowledgeable in bulk e-mail management.

Another example is text messaging and integrated voice response, or IVR. Together, these tools allow a computer to send and receive text messages or phone calls, and to collect or route information from either source without human intervention. With the prevalence of mobile devices and text messaging, you are going to see more of this.

AT&T efficiently uses text messaging. The company sends a text message once a month, telling customers how much they owe on their bill and inviting them to reply with the word “total” to pay in full. I’ve typed it in, sent the text and received immediate text-message confirmation.

Just a few years ago, this technology was exceedingly expensive. I’m sure AT&T spent millions on it.

Today, however, with the explosion of pay-as-you-go services, the technology is becoming accessible to even small businesses. Twilio is one example. With just a few simple programming calls and a small fee for each text or phone call, your application can interact with people via text or call.

This revolution is only the beginning.

Within five years, your custom software will be affordable, highly customized and leverage a range of third-party services to properly function.

How have you used third-party pay-as-you-go services to operate more efficiently?

This was originally posted on the Central Penn Business Journal Gadget Cube.

More Stories By Treff LaPlante

Treff LaPlante has been involved with technology for nearly 20 years. At WorkXpress, he passionately drives the vision of making customized enterprise software easy, fast, and affordable.

Prior to joining WorkXpress, Treff was director of operations for eBay's HomesDirect. While there, he created strategic relationships with Fortune 500 companies and national broker networks and began his foray into the development of flexible workflow software technologies. He served on the management team that sold HomesDirect to eBay.

During his time at Vivendi-Universal Interactive, Treff was director of strategy. In addition to M&A activities, Treff broadly applied quantitative management principles to sales, marketing, and product line functions. Treff served as the point person for the management team that sold Cendant Software to Vivendi-Universal. Earlier positions included product management and national sales trainer for Energy Design Systems, an engineering software company. Treff began his professional career as a metals trader for Randall Trading Corp, a commodities firm that specialized in bartering and transporting various metals and coal from the then-dissolving Soviet Union.

Treff received his MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University.