News & Views

News & Views is published monthly by 180 Systems. Our objective is to provide recent articles to our readers on business technology topics. In some cases, our blog contains a title with a hyperlink to a source article, a quote from the article and our comments. In other cases, we have provided a blog without a hyperlink for original content by 180 Systems. We encourage you to post your own comments. You can also access our blog by topic.

Lesson Learned – Get on 1st Base

Software Selection

I was assisting a large company operating in one of the Caribbean islands. The company was involved in a wide variety of industries and used a home grown system to run their operations. My job was to help them select a new system. Although I followed what I consider best practice in selecting a new system, I did not appreciate the limitations of what was possible. I was trying to hit a home run when the best we could ever do would be to get on 1st base. So the lesson (learned) is that best practice for one organization is not always best practice for another. As well, you will never be successful even with the best system or best processes if the people involved are not ready for big changes.

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Interview with Mark Canes, President of Blue Link Associates Limited

ERP

March 4, 2013 – Mark identified eCommerce, Cloud Computing and more automation as major trends at least for his target market which is small and medium sized (SMB) wholesalers and distributors which have outgrown QuickBooks.

Mark has noticed a significant shift by his clients to eCommerce. Some clients have embraced it strategically and others have done it reluctantly. The reluctant ones may have selected something like Go Daddy or Shopify for online shopping carts which may be a good way to get started but will be a problem with lots of orders because of the lack of integration with the back office systems. Most of his clients use eCommerce for B2C (Business to Consumer) but others also use it for B2B (Business to Business) which works well for businesses with small customers that don’t have their own purchase order systems.

The other big trend is the elephant in the sky (Cloud Computing). In 2010, Blue Link had one client in the clouds. On 2012, 85% of their new clients have chosen the cloud over on premise. Blue Link has priced their cloud offering such that there is unlikely to be a significant difference from a cost perspective even after 5 or 10 years. But the big benefit is that his clients no longer have to worry about security or backing up their data and testing whether it works. Many small companies don’t have IT expertise to look after their data properly.

Mark mentioned bar coding and scanning as one of the most significant automation trends. Although bar coding and scanning have been around for a long time, there have been changes which have led to increased adoption:

  • It has become mainstream technology and is no longer “mysterious” to many small business owners
  • Suppliers are now more often putting bar codes on their products. Many companies that have products manufactured for them overseas are getting their manufacturers to apply barcodes.
  • Prices have fallen.
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13 Questions to Ask Before Considering ERP

ERP

January 23, 2013 from BlogNotions – “Most of the ERP literature today focuses on proper preparation, planning, and implementation of the project, and rightfully so. However, sometimes the best way to avoid a train wreck is not to get on the train. In other words, do you really need a new ERP system and, if so, is now the right time to proceed?…”

180 View – The author does point out that a new system is not always needed or that the company is not ready for such a big change. When we review business processes, we find that the problems are not always system related. They could results from lack of training, business processes that are not really needed, infrastructure problems, or lack of motivation. Even if the problems are mostly related to systems, some organizations are not ready for big change. For example, employees are so busy that they will not be able to devote enough time to the implementation. Another example is when an organization has multiple profit or cost centres each with their own business processes. It is a big challenge to get them all to standardize their business processes.  180 Systems now offers an ERP Diagnostic (http://www.180systems.com/services/ERP-Diagnostic/) to help companies determine whether to invest in a new system.

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California ends contract with SAP over troubled IT project

ERP

February 8, 2013 from Computerworld – “California has terminated its contract with SAP in connection with a $371 million software system that was supposed to overhaul the state’s payroll system but instead ended up mired in major delays and cost overruns…

The state has paid SAP $50 million so far, and is withholding about $7 million in additional payments…”

180 View – There is not enough information in the article to know what went wrong. But it is unbelievable that it could happen in the first place. The article includes the observation that “Despite SAP’s history with project failures, SAP has many other government customers using payroll successfully.”

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How Social Media Is Changing CRM

CRM

June 8, 2012 from BusinessWeek – “…Two-thirds of American consumers use social networking sites, and they’re talking 24/7 about great service and insolent reps, smart branding, and shameless attempts at manipulation. The data (and the power) are increasingly in their hands, which represents a 180-degree pivot from traditional CRM. That has added a whole new dimension to the term: CRM could now just as easily be called company relationship management, as consumers use the power of the Internet to amplify their voices…

If you’ve been pondering how best to use CRM in your business, you may want to begin with where it’s headed (two-way communication) rather than where it has been (one-way messaging). Start by listening rather than talking and responding rather than pitching…”

180 View – Most of my generation have no time or the desire to either update a social network site or read the chatter. Perhaps it’s time we did.

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Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms

Business Intelligence

February 5, 2013 from Gartner and available courtesy of Birst – “…Although this is a mature market and has been a top CIO priority for years, there is still a lot of unmet demand. Every company has numerous subject areas — such as HR, marketing, social and so on — that have yet to even start with BI and analytics. The descriptive analytics have largely been completed for most large companies in traditional subject areas, such as finance and sales, but there is still a lot of growth expected for diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive deployments. Moreover, many midsize enterprises have yet to even start their BI and analytic initiatives. Gartner’s view is that the market for BI and analytics platforms will remain one of the fastest growing software markets. The compound annual growth rate for the BI and analytics space is expected to be 7% through 2016…”

180 View – Gartner is a good place to start when considering BI and other technologies.

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Accounting on the cloud: WOW

Cloud Computing, ERP

February 6, 2013 from ZDNET and written by Dennis Howlett – “Accounting on the cloud has often been characterized as something that will never happen or at least no time soon. If you look at the SME market though, nothing could be further from the truth. It is transforming the crusty world of professional accounting, a market segment you would intuitively think as impregnable to change…”

180 View – Get your head in the clouds…

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2012 Sports Illustrated Kids Winner

Personal

180 View – Inspiring video – you should watch it.

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