Six ways that online services are changing our everyday lives

Posted by Knowlton Thomas

The world has changed a lot in the last decade, OpenCal co-founder Arash Shiva argues rather undeniably. Here are some of the major changes Arash has observed in how we handle our day-to-day errands.

Payments

Wire transfers and checks are a pain, especially for international payments, Arash explains. Traditional banks mean delays and high fees, and credit cards are expensive for business owners—plus they come with fraud issues.

This realm has been revolutionized through services like PayPal. A lesser-known alternative to PayPal is Moneybookers, which has lower fees internationally (though with recent anti-money laundering laws there are still a lot of road blocks to sending money to others). The future may be in creative mobile services like Square for new ways to authenticate identity.

Reservations

Booking travel, hotels, movies, or even restaurant dinners by phone or in person almost seems archaic now, with the advent of so many online services that enable you to easily compare costs and other determining factors. Arash notes comparison sites like Kayak, Sidestep, Bing Travel, and more let you manage your own bookings online, and Priceline lets you negotiate fees and save. New startups like Momondo offer even more search options. And OpenTable has become the leading restaurant reservation system.

Conversation

Since the days of the Bulletin Board System, it's always been about reaching out to other humans online, says Arash. This evolved into discussion forums and group chatting, then blogs, and now the conversation is more social than ever the advent of with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Disqus (commenting), and more.

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Shopping

Yet another frequent human activity that has been completely altered by the internet. Services like Froogle, Ebay, and Pricegrabber make comparison shopping easy, Arash notes. There are also communities like SlickDealsFatWalletRedFlagDeals, and RetailMeNot.com that make bargain hunting easy.

Plus, Web apps like Shopify and Etsy make selling stuff online easy. Magneto is an open-source alternative for selling online.

Scheduling

opencalAs people become more connected, and more busy, negotiating scheduled face-to-face time with businesses and clients over the phone or email will become a common annoyance, Arash believes.

Services like OpenCal aim to solve this problem by enabling customers with the ability to book services directly with businesses online, based on real-time availability. Managing appointments and multiple staff schedules is easy with OpenCal's drag-and-drop calendar. And as a business owner, it means you can accept appointments 24/7. As a customers you get to enjoy the ease and convenience of online booking.

Mobile phones

As smart phones become more mainstream, our lives will increasingly revolve around location and mobile services, says Arash. Facebook, FourSquare, Google and others are all pioneers of this.

Finding things on the go, reading reviews, and getting offers based on location will soon become mainstream. Mobile "finder" services like Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Google Maps, Flickster, and similar services are already rapidly growing in popularity. Mobile phones with potent computing computer means that we are all connected on the go, every day—the icing on the cake of a world very different from decades past.

Company:
OpenCal
Website:
http://opencal.com/
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

OpenCal enables online appointment booking and scheduling for service businesses. Businesses place a "Book Now" button on their website or use the included free website to begin converting more visitors into customers with the convenience of 24/7 online appointment booking. OpenCal's fast and flexible web application includes a drag-and-drop staff calendar, client tracking through an integrated CRM, online... more


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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys playing tennis, hiking, and exploring weird side streets. more



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