Friday, December 29, 2006

Dear Marcy: How can I convince management that the platform I know is the platform to keep?

Welcome to our latest forum feature: "Dear Marcy" where you can write in anonymously and ask our resident expert business and IT questions that you might like some creative solutions to.

Here's the first published letter:

Dear Marcy,

My company just got acquired by a larger company, and they are running their business applications on SQL Server. We run ours on DB2 served off an iSeries.

This concerns me because I’ve got expertise associated with the AS/400 or iSeries platform and don’t want to be downsized.

How can I try to convince management that the iSeries is the one to keep?

Acquired in Alabama

Read her response here»

Or, you can listen to this podcast response, if you'd rather not join the forum.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Web 2.0 capability: AJAX in action

Here's one example of AJAX in action that makes it faster and easier for your users to get to the critical information they need.

To try it out: Go to this application and look for the “Customer Name” column.

You'll notice there's a field to enter information. The dropdown next to it is marked CT. (CT stands for Contains, so when you select CT from the drop down, you are looking for Customer Names that "contain" the letter, word or number you are searching for.)

To use it, let's say you are using this application to look for customers with the word “bikes” contained in their names. To use mrc Prompt, type the word “bikes” one letter at a time. As each letter is entered, a drop down will appear showing you only those options that contain the word bikes. You can then click on your selection and hit enter to bring up your record of choice.

Give it a try in each of these fields. It's an amazing way to drill down to filter information on the fly.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Web Design Tip #15: Creating ordered lists

As a follow up to last week's article on creating Web content through use of bulleted lists, there are also some built in list building features which allow you to create ordered lists.

Ordered lists can come in handy in a number of ways on Web sites, or Web applications, but probably find their most common use when developing a series of ordered steps or instructions.

This article tells you how.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Personalize your Google Page..with Cup of Joe!

If you have already personalized your Google search page, you can add this blog feed to it and see our latest posts as they are updated! Just click the "Add to Google" button on the top of the right hand column of this page.

If you haven't personalized your Google search page yet, here's how to do it:
1) Create a Google Account.

2) Once your google account is completed and you're signed in, go to and either click on the "Personalized Home" link in the upper-right corner of the page, or you are already at your personalized home page.

3) Now, come back to this blog, and look at the right column, and click on the brand new button we've added right above the search window that reads, "Add to Google!" Then, click "Add to Google Homepage" button.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Web Design Tip #14: Creating bulleted lists for better organization

Real estate on Web sites is limited, so it often comes in handy to give users easier ways to find and break down information more quickly.

One of the simplest solutions is to create simple lists using bullets.

Here's how you can create your own»

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another great idea to steal

Information Week recently compiled a list of the top 20 IT business ideas (that you might want to steal.)

Inventory Master
E.&J. Gallo Winery developed a warehouse management & logistics system, giving managers inventory and supply chain visibility in distribution centers worldwide.

The system uses RFID with automated vehicles inside Gallo warehouses. That, with data integration among planning, sales, and delivery systems resulted in: 35% improvement in demand forecast accuracy, 98.5% inventory accuracy. The order-to-ship cycle is half what it was--and all while the winery's brand portfolio doubled.

This kind of integrated information sharing and forecast accuracy can be even more challenging when there are many systems and databases involved. Here's one manufacturer who had to track production on products that were being created in four worldwide plants...and had "made do" with an e-mailed Excel spreadsheet for a little too long.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Happy Holidays from all of us at mrc!

Click on the image below and build your own snowman!

Friday, December 08, 2006

This is not your father’s report-writer! (The Remix)

The Web world has not only given new life to business intelligence, but to everyday report-writing.

Web reports can contain links and graphics to product and customer information and let you drill around your data, resulting in more information at your fingertips, and in a much more readable format.'s all done in an instant.

Try it! This one lets your user request a report via the internet, run it and distribute it automatically via email, or run it on the fly. It also lets you determine the data and formats...PDF, XML, CSV, HTML, whatever you like.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Older IT Workers: The survival guide

The ever-changing nature of tech means there’s a kind of ageism built into the industry itself. Previous experience is devalued because previous technology moves toward irrelevance.

Couple this built-in ageism with an employers concern about job longevity, and veteran IT staffers can face a real challenge: how can I stay employed after the first few gray hairs?

This article has some hints»

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Executive Dashboards...not just for executives anymore?

One of the longest-running complaints of BI is that companies have the capabilities to analyze the data, but often there is so much of it that pertinent critical data gets overlooked, or is outdated by the time it gets into the hands of the people who need it.

Not true if the BI application is done right. Take advantage of the Web and smart technologies in a dashboard like this one to give your people the best chance to make the information work for you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

First of twenty great business ideas you should steal...

Information Week recently compiled a list of the top 20 business ideas (that you might want to steal for your very own.)

Here's the first:
"Construction company Emcor Group put voice, e-mail, and specialized applications on a handheld device that fits in a shirt pocket. That's providing a practical way to keep the people closest to the customer up to date.

Field technicians are now more productive, using a wireless dispatching system tied to Emcor's customer support center. The same device used by the technicians for this service application is also their cell phone. The approach has improved time to invoice, invoice accuracy, and overall customer satisfaction by more closely integrating the field to the office."

You can create an application just like this»

Friday, November 24, 2006

iSeries Devcon recap: 8:30 am in Vegas is simply unnatural

For those of you that attended our lab at iSeries Devcon, thank you! It was great to get your perspective on the tools, and we really enjoyed meeting all of you. Remember, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to let us know!

If you weren't at Devcon, or you just felt that 8:30 am in Vegas was a cruel cruel joke...we feel for you.

That's why we've decided to offer the hands-on Web development seminar you missed at Devcon in this handy online lab! (You'll build two Java Web apps in half an hour!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sci-Fi Cool Gadgets-- Closer to fact than fiction

Science fiction writers, have in the past acted as "technology seers" and have predicted such breakthroughs as flight, cyberspace and computer viruses among other changes.

Here's a few future-gadgets on the horizon that might interest CIOs in particular.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Biz App Tip#4: Watch out for outmoded meta-languages

As technology behind business applications and BI has evolved...there has been a rebirth of big-picture thinking, giving companies reason to re-evaluate their BI software choices and application development tools.

One of the biggest changes has been a calculated move away from outmoded meta-languages. But, unfortunately, many tools out there still incorporate them.

Here's what we mean by meta-languages, and why should do your best to avoid them»

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Great Mashed Potato Experiment of 2006

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, mrc's Marketing Director talks about her lifelong love of mashed potatoes, and offers the results of her great Mashed Potato Experiment of 2006...and what she learned.

Learn what she learned, and get her mashed potato recipe here»

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Top 10 project problems to avoid

Take these cautionary tales to heart, so that you can sidestep these pitfalls in your own business.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Business lessons: Take four steps toward data security

We don't talk a lot about data security in this blog usually, unless we are touting our own security features (of which there are many).

However, there are definitely areas of improvement that every company can examine to ensure that private information is secure, corporate secrets are guarded, and internal applications find the the right balance between protection and accessibility.

Here are four steps you can begin to take to improve data security at your company.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Smartphones: What to look for, and what you can do with them

What's a smartphone? Well, where BlackBerry made its mark by providing email to the road warrior, this new generation shoots for not having to carry a laptop at all.

This great InformationWeek article gives you a side by side comparison of what the best SmartPhones to bet on are.

And this new quick case scenario from Emhart Glass gives you a good example of some of the cool applications you can build for them.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Business App Tip #3: Use an Easy Dashboard Speedometer

With the rise in popularity of both executive dashboards and portals, and the demand for instant BI, one of the easiest to read tools you can use is the dashboard "speedometer."

With one quick glance, a manager can grasp what is really going on in her business, be warned of new problems and react quickly.

We use our speedometer capabilities in our internal dashboard to track how our help desk is doing, whether we are answering our customer needs quickly enough. If you'd like to use this metric monitor in your dashboard, this short article tells you how.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

3 minute learning: AJAX

This week's 2 minute mPowerPod sheds light on AJAX...which is why it's actually more like 3 minutes this time around.

Find out what all this talk of AJAX is, where it can benefit you, and how you can use it in this short and sweet 3 minute podcast.

(You don't have to have an iPod to take advantage of these mPowerPods.)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Top 12 Tech Metrics to Gauge Business Impact

This Information Week article, talks about the challenge CIOs face in measuring the value of IT with traditional ROI or TCO (total cost of ownership) metrics.

Instead, they are being asked to track specific business needs. Here's what they say are the Top 12 tech metrics you need to keep your eye on.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Boo! Happy Halloween: 25 IT Horror Stories

In the spirit of Halloween, here's an article from CIO magazine on their top 25 IT horror stories, and if it doesn't serve to frighten, it might serve to offer some cautionary tales...

(oh...and you might want to turn on your speakers...)

CIO Magazine: 25 IT Horror Stories

Friday, October 20, 2006

Business App Tip #2: Incorporate outside technologies to strengthen your apps

We're always talking about the importance of flexibility, but we're usually talking about platform or database flexibility and how you can access any database or create apps to run on any operating system (or systems) you choose.

But another area that you should pay attention to is also an "internal flexibility" or the ability to pull in outside technologies and resources to further extend your application capabilities with the latest and greatest capabilities.

Here's a quick article on some of the benefits.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Penny for your thoughts? How about a Harvard white paper?

We really appreciate your thoughts and insights. It help us keep our blog posts, articles, and newlsetters relevant to you. So, we'd really appreciate your help once again, and we're not above bribery...ahem...I mean, incentives.

If you fill out this quick survey, we'll forward you this helpful white paper from the Harvard Business School: Why IT matters in mid-size companies, exploring how IT capability is the key to profitable business growth.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Are Enterprise Apps on the way out?

Apparently, at least according to this article from CIO Magazine, IT execs feel that most business functions can benefit from automation, but data integration problems must first be solved. That means stepping toward SOA and Web services—and away from suites like CRM and ERP.

However, that task needn't be daunting, or all at once..

You can integrate data from disparate sources by either creating custom applications that access multiple databases, or by copying data from one database to another, and when they are built with the right architecture, moving them over to SOA and Web services is a simple next step, rather than an enterprise-wide ordeal.

Friday, October 13, 2006

2 minute power learning: mPowerPod meets Open Template Technology

This week's 2 minute mPowerPod sheds light on Open Template Technology.

Find out what Open Template Technology is, where it can benefit you, and where to find it in this short and sweet two-minute podcast.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Introducing 2 minutes of power learning...the m-Powerpod.

What is the m-PowerPod, you ask?

Well, it's a podcast designed to provide fact-filled tidbits on technology, web applications, special features, and business benefits...all in under two minutes.

This first mPowerPod is the definitive mPowerPod intro of who we are and what we do...and also gives you an idea of how quick these mPowerPod's really are!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

10 commandments of project management

Project management is always a challenge in one way or another, but there are ways to smooth your path.

By following these 10 commandments from ComputerWorld, you will have a much better chance of being successful in the long term.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Web Tip #9: How cascading style sheets work

Not totally familiar with cascading style sheets? Here are the basics...

Cascading style sheets are the best way to get (and retain) a professional look for your Web site, and also the easiest way to apply and maintain that look on the pages throughout your site.

Here's a quick look at the elements involved.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Three big business problems with two commonalities. Can you name them?

Company #1: found a reporting solution that fit all of their criteria, over and above the usual players.

Company #2: created a series of wireless applications to allow their floor workers to quickly gain access to the information they needed from their blackberries.

Company #3: built a custom shopping cart application, like this one that was actually less expensive (and took less time to implement) than the packaged solutions they were considering.

So? What do these three have in common?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Aligning your CIOs and COOs to be more productive

With the advent of IT roles focusing more on executing business strategy, managing operations, and exploiting opportunities, there comes some growing pains.

CIOs and COOs often find themselves in overlapping roles, which can be counterproductive.

Here's what you can do to better align the roles»

Monday, September 25, 2006

Unique use of RFID data changes the face of new product sales

We don't often cover RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) best practices in this blog, mainly because although many clients use RFID, mrc's tools are more often used to analyze the BI data the method provides.

But, I also enjoy looking at new ways that technology can be used. Here's how one manufacturer used RFID to not only track their product, but also to measure whether it got promoted properly--and what they found out they needed to do.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Easily take advantage of drop downs in your mrc reports.

Drop down menus can be a great way to quickly narrow down the data in your reports to the data sets that you seek, and allow you to provide even more end-user friendly (and flexible) reporting options--freeing up IT time.

And, the newest changest to m-Power, particularly the inclusion of the m-Painter feature, make including dropdowns in reports a breeze.

Here's one how-to article posted in the user forum that gives you some tips on how you can get you started.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Four Business-IT Pitfalls to avoid

Here are four Business-IT pitfalls that cause IT projects to fail. Keep them by your desk, and remind yourself of some of the talking points you should bring to the table the next time you are called to a meeting.

Nipping these pitfalls in the bud, and finding a good dialogue in the process, may help you avoid many of these bumps in the road.

Friday, September 15, 2006

SOA in plain language.

SOA. Service Oriented Architecture.

The name says it all. Well...kind of. Hmm...not really. What service? It's an acronym defined by buzzwords.
And it might surprise you to learn that it is related to, but separate from, Web services...which it is sometimes lumped in with.

This article from Datamation breaks it down in plain language. Finally!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Web 2.0 and what it will mean to BI

If there's one thing technology marketers are really good at, it's complicating matters by coming up with new buzzwords to describe basic concepts...for example: Web 2.0.

What the heck IS that? And why have I never heard of Web 1.0?

In this article, you'll get a good read on how Web 2.0 is defined and how you can begin applying its basic tenets to your business intelligence.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

10 steps to save a foundering project

We've all been there at one point or another. A project that started out strong suddenly takes a turn, and you are faced with a decision. Salvage it, or scrap it.

So, when you find yourself in this predicament--what do you do?

This Computerworld article has some great information to help you evaluate and make that call: Sink or Swim?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Web Design Tip #7: Choosing a color scheme based on images

A few weeks ago we gave you a basic guide to selecting Web colors, specifically hexadecimal colors, and how to use them in your Web designs.

Another consideration for selecting a color scheme for Web pages is by selecting colors that complement the images that you are using. Here's how»

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Product shots in B2B Web apps improve bottom line.

Including product images in e-commerce ordering apps and shopping carts ensures that the correct product is being ordered, and prevents click-errors and order-entry typos. This saves businesses a ton of money on returns, delivery delays, and manufacturing production delays.

For example, here's the new online order interface recently added to Note: as you order, the images appear in your cart, allowing you to prevent any mistakes.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Creating Extra Functionality in mrc Calendar Template

You've probably seen samples of mrc's calendar template in action, and as an mrc customer, you may have one of your own...but does it have all of the functionality you need?

Well, now it's easy to include additional functions in your calendar such as search capabilities and drop down menus. Here's how»

Friday, August 25, 2006

Seven Pillars of BI Success

Whether you get your business information via a dashboard, portal, or some other interface, the BI tool has become the primary domain of IT's most important constituents: end-users.

This Intelligent Enterprise article takes you through the seven "pillars," or best practices that support the most successful BI implementations, and where you should direct your focus to start achieving BI success and solid business alignment.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pop Quiz: which design changes are most important, and why?

We recently put through a major design overhaul. Why? Well, we've been doing quite a bit of talking recently on corporate branding, and what is important when establishing a look for your Web site...and that got us thinking. Where did this site need to improve?

So you tell us...

Pop Quiz: Which design changes are most important to the site, and why?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Using AJAX techology for better functionality and easier navigation

As an mrc customer, here is one perk courtesy of AJAX technology that can make your Web application navigation super easy. Here's what I mean: Go to this application and click on one of the customer name links. Now, do you see the tabs that appear at the bottom?

Note that each tab correlates to a different application, but the data that appears is only to the record selected. You never have to leave the Web page.

Here's how to include it in your application»

Friday, August 18, 2006

Preparing your laptop for airport security.

This article from Information Week gives some useful tips for business travelers, particularly those traveling to and from the UK with the latest security restrictions.

Friday, August 11, 2006

What's the right Web "combo platter" for your business?

Listen to this brand new (and very quick) podcast on the three main Web venues available to your business, some potential areas where you could benefit in each, and what to consider when determining which combination will help your business get the most out of the Internet.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Color code your data to see things at a glance.

An easy way to do this is by using Conditional Calculations (Calcs) in m-Power applications.

mrc's conditional calcs also allow you to customize customer views/available links based on log-ins, allow users to update/add/delete a record depending on the value of a specific field, and color code your data for easy analysis.

Here's how you can take advantage of this feature»

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Diagnose and treat IT-client relationship breakdown before the break-up.

Although not a new issue, the breakdown of working relations between IT departments and their internal clients appears to be getting not only more common, but also more serious. Almost every organization has at least some of the symptoms. What are yours?

This article from Darwin Magazine helps you put an end to the finger-pointing and breakdowns, and vaccinate, diagnose, and cure these common ailments.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Executive Brief: Improve business/IT alignment.

As a sidebar to an article on the drive for better Structured IT Management, this quick article from Intelligent Enterprise, delivers on one of our favorite topics: How to Turn IT Resources Toward Strategic Business Advantage.

Its tips include: improving business agility, getting out of reactive mode, and using tools to improve IT executives' business understanding.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

New look to Web site targets an easier way to find the information you need.

You may have noticed that we've updated our site again to give you an easier way to find the information you seek.

Now you can begin navigating the site starting with topics that are near and dear to your position. You get what you need»

Friday, July 28, 2006

Announcing mrc's new customer portal

mrc's newly re-designed Customer portal was created using m-Power and has more of a dashboard feel. Here's what you can do with it:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Reactive to proactive: How to escape the 80-20 Rut

This article in Computerworld, "Escape the 80-20 Rut" is a great little follow up to the white paper we discussed last week about determining the value of your IT projects.

This article gives you some other ideas on how to save by creating a consolidation strategy, and as they put it: "The goal is to free up dollars and personnel from maintenance and management tasks and create an infrastructure flexible enough to react to business changes and problems."

Monday, July 24, 2006

The secret to finding the Value of IT might all be in where you look.

In a recent poll by CIO Insight, 94% of IT executives at companies that don't measure any ROI say that it's because it's too difficult to calculate.

But perhaps we're making it too complicated. Here are some quick and dirty measurements you can pull together to create a better understanding of the value of your IT projects.

This article by one independent IT research firm gives you the high points to predicting ROI to help establish the value of your IT initiatives:
Measuring your Return on Investment: Quick Reference Guide»

And here's one of ours, containing a lot of good general information about where to find value in Web initiatives Determining the Value of Delivering Web initiatives with m-Power»

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What SQL Server Magazine has to say about m-Power

Have you seen the recent blurb on mrc in July's edition of SQL Server Magazine?

It talks about how m-Power has helped solve the universal problem: how to get business intelligence to users in the form they need it...when they need it.

Read it here»

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Cool Web Typography Tool you should know about

After your crash course last week on the basics of Web Typography, here's a free, and easy-to-use tool to help you pick and choose the look of the text on your Web site.

The tool, called Typetester is used via the Web, and it will help you to drive home that Typography knowledge you picked up in last week's article.

A link to the tool, and some quick pointers on how to use it, is located in this new Forum post.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The future of e-mail

Technologies emerging from R&D labs will make e-mail more productive and give it new roles in the next few years.

This article gives insights from industry experts about what we can expect from email in the future.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Breathe new life into your freshening up your look.

One unique benefit to mrc's new drag-and-drop m-Painter feature and n-tier flexibility, is that it's easy to quickly change the look, and often breathe new life (as user applications) into old applications.

1) 2)

Above is the exact same application with 3 different looks. (You can click on them to see a larger version.)

    1) The first app, on the top left, helps you drill down to the customer you are looking for by a number of criteria.

    2) The second app also helps you filter by criteria to find the customer you are seeking. There are some navigation changes, and the links are icons. Overall look and feel is different.

    3) The third application includes more intuitive navigation along the left side, and the icon of the m-Power bar links to a maintainance application to allow outside users to update their information in one step.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Enterprise portals: A set of pre-built apps and a place to host them isn't enough.

If you're considering building a portal, this article might be helpful.

One interesting point it makes is: "A portal may provide a nice set of built-in applications that can get you off the ground in a short period of time. In reality though, what often happens is that portals prove to be just the tip of the iceberg, with much more work to customize and integrate the various layers than most customers expect."

The secret, is knowing how to create those customized and integrated portal applications on your own in a fast and efficient way.

If you'd like to get started, but aren't sure how to serve a portal, here's a list of Portal vendors you might want to check out.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Web Design Tips: Navigation

With all you have to do in IT, no one expects you to be a Web designer too.

Or do they?

Here's a new section in our User Forum we've added called Web Design Tips, to give you the basic tenets of Web design to help you keep your applications looking neat, professional...and downright cool.

This week's topic? Best Practices in Navigation.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tivo for your life? Future data searches may mean total recall.

Have you ever attended a meeting or a class without your required morning cup of coffee, and left looking at your notes wondering what some of them meant?

Or, how about when your spouse asks why you didn't switch the laundry when they asked you to...and as you stare at the molding clothes in their arms, you struggle for recall.

Now, imagine you can do a data search on your handheld "memory banks" and replay what happened. It would be great on one hand...maybe not so great on the other.

In 2021 upgrading your memory is going to mean something completely least according to Gordon Bell, a senior researcher at Microsoft.

Read more here»

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Better to try and fail, than never to try.

If you don't believe how easy it can be to create enterprise-level data-driven Java applications, you should just try it for yourself.

A wide range of users from Java novices/end-users to Java development experts use m-Power to hit the productivity sweet spot in their Web application needs.

Just sign up here to get password access, then follow the quick and easy steps of m-Power's interface to create two Java servlet applications. You'll have a Java servlet in minutes--with no training.

There's nothing to download. Just sign in now to give it a whirl!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Can't Find a Parking Spot? Get out your cell phone!

Sometimes it's difficult to see beyond our current solutions to the future. You've probably already looked at each Web application ten different ways, trying to make it more user-friendly, faster, better looking, more complex, less complex...but have you really turned it on its side?

Take, for example, a city government. Where would wireless technology possibly apply there?

Well...what if your citizens could pay their parking tickets via their cell phone? Instant revenue. No lag time. What if users could pay for meters that way as well? Think of the labor saved on changing meters, money saved on paper tickets.

That's coming, and so much more. For example, here's what will happen in a few years when you can't find a parking spot.

Data driven Web applications are only beginning to make their mark on how we live our lives. Where can you take yours?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Cool new m-powering things you can do:
The definitive list.

You probably don't know the half of mrc's most recent enhancements to m-Power and the mrc-Productivity Series...mainly because they've been happening so quickly.

This concise, and comprehensive quick reference gives you the highlights.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The moral of the story is...The right architecture and $1,000 one-time setup can get you $100,000 (in one month)

This is one of my favorite e-business stories...

So, a 2-man IT department at a medical supply distributor wanted to create a B2B Web site to give their hospitals and clinic customers a more convenient way to place orders...and they wanted to build it in Java so they weren't tied to any one platform or vendor. Only they didn't know Java...

But, using m-power, they created a Java-based B2B e-comerce site, running on Linux and served from a PC--and ALSO used m-Power to begin teaching themselves Java as they built it.

The beta-test (launched to just a handful of customers) took in a whopping and unexpected $100,000 in one month of online sales...even though the set up cost was less than $1000. Talk about ROI.

This was possible because of n-tier architecture, which allowed this company to run part of their Java apps on Linux from a PC, while accessing live data from their iSeries.

If you'd like to learn more, fill out this form, or view the case study.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

mrc Movex User Seminar

The Movex User Group in the UK is holding a one-day FIG (Focused Interest Group) event for Movex users to specifically discuss their uses of mrc. Here is an overview of the event.

There are only a handful of spaces left, so if you would like to attend this UK event, please contact Andy Vigrass directly.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Reminder! mrc has moved!

mrc has moved to lovely new offices on Friday, June 2, 2006.

555 Waters Edge, Suite 120
Lombard, IL 60148

p.(630) 916-0662
f.(630) 916-0663

Here's a cool birds' eye view of our new location!

(You can get directions here as well. Maybe if you look close enough, you can see us working away.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Age of m-Powerment

"If you need custom Web applications or access to corporate data housed in multiple databases, and Java looks like an answer, mrc's m-Power can help developers with no Java experience produce useful applications quickly."

The rest of this new product review hot off the presses for platform-specific publication, iSeries News, goes miles to showcase how m-Power hits the Productivity Sweet Spot between end-users and developers of any platform.

Friday, May 26, 2006

CIOs struggle to generate full value from their information

According to CIO Insight's Management Poll: "Most IT executives say business users frequently complain they are not receiving the information they need. The bottom line: despite the massive investments in information technology and gathering, companies have a long way to go before they gain anything close to full value from information."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Despite poll view, there are many easy ways CIOs can gain better BI value

Well, the CIO Insight Management Poll above may say one thing, but there are many ways CIOs can provide better, more flexible and versatile BI to users and their business. Here are a few examples:

Roll over this sales revenue graph to see dollar details, and then click on each graph to drill down.

This reporting interface lets your user select from a series of parameters to pull detailed (and flexible) reports.

This shop floor calendar lets managers track and update shipments going in and out of the warehouse.

To learn more about how these were created, fill out this form.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Looking for your two cents...

We recently started a business application/Web Development forum in December, and since then there have been many articles posted as well as thousands of views. However, there haven't been a lot of posts/interactions/questions from you, our subscribers.

The idea for this forum was from your suggestions, to provide a place to exchange ideas/experiences/questions and make each other better business application and Web developers.

How can we help you help each other?

Please be candid here. Let us know why you haven't posted (if you haven't posted)...and which topics would drive you to participate if we included them. Or, if you don't plan to participate, please tell us why. Is it because you must register to post? Are you shy? What is holding you back?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Good information architecture increases online sales; a good shopping cart ensures it.

This helpful article, addresses e-commerce best practices to help you build a better shopping cart.

This shopping cart embodies these practices. It's designed for a B2B site, but it can be adapted to any format, and you can also build it without any Java training. Follow the easy instructions to use it live.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

mrc is moving on June 2!

mrc is moving up in the world, and to lovely new offices on Friday, June 2, 2006.

After that, all gift baskets and candygrams can be sent to:
555 Waters Edge, Suite 120
Lombard, IL 60148

p.(630) 916-0662
f.(630) 916-0663

Please pass this address change on to anyone in your company who might need it.

Here's a cool birds' eye view of our new location!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Gartner says there is a declining need for technical skills...

In this ComputerWorld article Gartner predicts a shrinking demand for certain computer skills. The prediction focuses on a shift away from IT specialty skills toward employees with more business-analyst skills.

You can read the article here»

Do you think this is a lot of hype put out by well-placed press releases and media-based panic? Or, do you feel a change is taking place in IT?

You can enter the debate here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Apply alternate looks to your Java applications just by changing your URL

One powerful feature we included in servlets produced by m-Power and the mrc-Productivity Series is known as the pageName parameter.

In a nutshell, this parameter lets you dictate to the servlet which .html page to apply to your application directly from the URL. That means you can apply various looks (and uses) to your Java servlets by changing this parameter in the URL.
Learn how to take advantage of this design feature»

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Create your own Java application right now.

Got a few minutes? If so, that's more than enough time to create a couple of Java Web applications without any prior Java training, or Web experience.

Just sign in to gain password access to this step-by-step development interface.

Friday, April 28, 2006

6 questions to ask

Saw this article last week and thought it might useful.

It's a quick read and gives you the six questions you should to ask yourself before embarking on any IT project, big or small:

Read the article here

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Worker Bees: Do you already have the manpower you need?

In the past, IT departments have been hesitant to empower their users with capabilities traditionally reserved for Information Technology experts.

And with good reason. You don't want people who don't have the expertise monkeying with crucial data. This article from Datamation gives some food for thought.

However, now you can create systems such as employee portals, dashboards, and intranets that interface with all of the large software packages. You can create many different kinds of reports such as those that users can pull on-the-fly, and then there are batch reports that they can download, PDF, or email to each other.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Do you use any of these devices? Do your employees?

More and more employees are using these devices, and not providing wireless applications may be affecting your productivity (and profitability) more than you think.

To learn about easier ways of going wireless that may work for you, visit:

Monday, April 24, 2006

Tips on selecting a Web application development tool.

Listen to this brand new (and very quick) podcast for a crash course in the criteria you need to look for (and pitfalls to avoid) when selecting a Web application development tool.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Executive dashboards gain a fresh new resource.

Executive dashboards, like this one built with m-Power, offer many benefits, not the least of which is that your top executives are able to access straight simple answers to their questions at the click of a mouse from anywhere in the world, any time, day or night.

And now, there's a brand new resource, a blog called the Dashboard Spy to help you get ideas for your own dashboards from seeing what other businesses have done.

By the way, if you see something there, that you'd like to implement/duplicate, just let us know. Our consultants can build anything you see there, or mentor you on how to build your own.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The ABCs of outsourcing: from an outside source.

CIO magazine has compiled a report on outsourcing tips.

Outsourcing is sometimes a hot button issue these days with jobs moving overseas. But, that doesn't change the fact that sometimes using a third party to get things done quickly and efficiently simply makes the most sense.

So...when you do make that choice to outsource, here are some things you should consider.

If you would like more information about outsourcing options, let us know what you have on your plate. You may be unaware of some of the choices available to you.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A big storm is coming...what's in your cart?

Wal-mart's got a pretty good idea.

In 2004, Wal-Mart decided to test what they now call "predictive technology" during hurricane season by pre-ordering the supplies that had historically been big sellers before and after a major storm.

This is a great example of harnessing the power of the data you own, and using it to drive your business.

Wal-Mart expected the usual...bottled water, batteries, flashlights, radios...

...but they got quite a jolt when the top sellers weren't what they expected.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"You're joking me."

My marketing director just shared a story from the conference she attended last week.

She was talking to a consultant with customers all over the globe, and he was floored when she told him there aren't any run-time license fees to distribute m-Power built custom applications to his customer sites.

But we weren't joking him. Nor are we joking you.

Here are the benefits other consultants are talking about.

Some quick Javascript tips for use in calcs

Neither m-Power nor the mrc-Productivity Series requires you to know Javascript. You don't need to learn any development language at all because you use a point-and-click menu.

But sometimes, when creating your Web applications, Javascript can come in handy, particularly in calculations.

Here are a few tips, specific to calculations, that were recently posted in our user forum»

Feel free to add your own!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Best practices architecture (at a glance)

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. Here's a quick way to break down the power behind n-Tier's flexibility when we follow the diagram below.

Click on the diagram above to get the quick facts.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Challenges of Leadership for CIOs podcast (and the concept of podcasts, in general)

For me, up until last week, the idea of listening to a podcast seemed like an enormous waste of work time, and a step backward from Webcasts. What, no visuals?

I couldn't quite get my head around why they were taking off all over the Web. But, I have now been converted to a podcast believer. And, here's why...

First of all, for those of you unfamiliar with them, podcasts are basically mp3 files that you can listen to via computers or mp3 players. They are often organized like interviews or talk radio shows to educate people, or entertain them, and they are changing the way we, as IT executives, are educating ourselves.

As decision-makers, we are often in meetings or on our way to meetings, sitting on the tarmac, in a cab in traffic, and in a car/train coming to or from work. And, because podcasts are so portable you can now make these unproductive gaps of time work for you.

Want to try one?

Here's one (10 min) from CIO Magazine. It's a Harvard Business School professor and his take on the Unique Leadership Challenges of the CIO.

Listen to it from your computer, or download it (your choice).

Friday, March 31, 2006

All the news that's fit to print.

To do a better job of keeping you informed of major changes, we've added a new "breaking" news section added to our home page.

When we make a big announcement, include a major update to m-Power, or there's something important going on in the industry that we don't want you to miss, this section will appear to let you know what's going on.

To view this new mrc news section, just visit our home page:

Monday, March 27, 2006

m-Painter, how do I love thee?
Let me count the top five ways...

We just announced a new feature of m-Power today: m-Painter, and I have to's really cool. It can turn you into a Web designer with zero effort.

You can now easily incorporate elements like your corporate logo, a color scheme or an alternative layout, no matter what your level of Web expertise. Basically anything you want to do to the presentation layer of your applications can now be done with just a drag and drop of your mouse.

m-Painter is so much cooler than other painting alternatives... here are the top 5 ways:

1. There is nothing to download or deploy. It is entirely browser-based.

2. It hits the Productivity Sweet Spot for end-users and developers because of two modes: WYSIWYG and plain text editor. You can toggle back and forth and make alterations in the mode you feel most comfortable.

3. You can preview changes with live data without any web server reload delay before saving/deploying.

4. There is a thorough integration of WYSIWYG mode and mrc templates, allowing you to get creative with the look of your applications.

5. This browser-based solution is a built-in feature of the mrc interface and requires no mapped drive or special security.

If you'd like to learn more about how you can incorporate this new benefit, just fill out this form.

Or, for further information on features, you can get a basic overview here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Do you have the mettle? 2006 Development challenge.

So many of you have built such cool business applications, that we have decided to sponsor a brand new 2006 Web Development Contest.

Trophy will be awarded at the end of year to winners, including press release ad promotion featuring contest winners sent to industry magazines. All previous entries in the 2005 Forum will be automatically entered into this contest.

How to enter? Just post your contest entry in the mrc User forum, with your contact information.

There's a sample entry on the forum, to help make it easy for you to enter.

If you’d like to enter, but you are concerned about revealing private company data, or aren’t sure if you can get permission to show your work publicly, simply drop us a line at, or call us at 630-916-0662, and we’ll figure something out.

The underlying purpose of this contest is to develop a greater resource where you and fellow deveopers can visit to get ideas for your next project from best practice applications. The more of you that participate, the more you can gain from the wealth of your peers insights and knowledge and mistakes, and get comments/feedback from other users to help you make your applications stronger.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Create a Java servlet in minutes with this free online trial of m-Power.

Test drive mrc's m-Power software right now, and create a Java servlet application (or two) in a matter of minutes!

There is nothing to download, and no prior Java training necessary.

Just sign in to gain password access to m-Power's step-by-step development interface, and go for it!

Friday, March 17, 2006

2006 Trends and the Pursuit of the Frictionless Business Platform

CIO Insight recently conducted a number of in-depth surveys to break down the top 30 trends of 2006 and found that this year's CIOs have to build platforms that can make their companies flexible and frictionless.

According to CIO Insight: "By running supply-chain and logistics systems over their networks, companies seek to integrate partners, outsourcers and suppliers into their operations. Portals and collaboration software can allow employees to use the same systems wherever they go."

Here are a few ways to do that: partner extranet (Follow login instructions), an internal portal, and an e-commerce shopping cart (Select bicycles link and begin ordering to see it in action).

In the coming weeks, I'll be examining many of these top 2006 trends myself in more depth, and what these mean to you. To get a head start, here's the full article:,1540,1909968,00.asp

Monday, February 27, 2006

New capabilities to make your Web applications easier to use.

We've just added a how-to article to the mrc User Forum, covering new technical capabilities and features you should check out.

These new benefits are courtesy of AJAX technology and make Web application navigation even easier. And, if you're not familiar with AJAX, don't worry... m-Power and mrc-Productivity Series customers are get AJAX technology automatically, so you just have to follow a few easy steps to use it.

Here's the cool benefit:
1) Go to and then...

2) IMPORTANT: Click on one of the customer name links on the left to see the new capabilities. See the tabs that appear at the bottom?

3) Note that each tab correlates to a different application, but the data that appears is only to the record selected. You never have to leave the Web page which makes user navigation easier, and gives them the ability to keep application data in the context of one view.

Now, here's how you can apply it: (You'll need to sign in to see it.)

If you'd like some ideas on how you could use this feature, just let us know what you do, and we'll do what we can to help.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

NEW: mrc's Online
application development lab

We have just added a powerful new educational feature on our Web site:
mrc's new Online lab!

Try your hand at creating Java servlets in minutes to see the power for yourself!

There is nothing to download because it's all live via the Web, and you can sign up now and do it whenever you have the time (start to finish is around 45 minutes).

If you are a current mrc customer using m-Power or mrc's Web interface, you can probably already attest to the power of this lab.

One favor. We just ask that once you have completed the lab, you let us know so we can recycle your environment and make it available to others who want to try it. So, once you're done, just click here to send us an email.

To try the online lab go here:

If you have any questions, or you run into any problems, just give me a call at 630-916-0662, or send me an email at

Have fun!

Friday, February 17, 2006

New n-Tier QuickFacts

A picture is worth a thousand words.

So, to keep it short, we've just posted this handy quick fact sheet on n-tier architecture including an easy-to-follow diagram to demonstrate some of the benefits it offers.

Get the n-Tier QuickFact sheet here.

Additionally, if you would like further in-depth information on n-tier architecture as it relates to Java, you can visit our new Webinar library, and check out our n-Tier Architecture presentation right at the top.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Time to close the gap between IT shop sizes and development capabilities.

This recent article from reveals some interesting facts you might want to see.

One of the most interesting facts reads as follows:
"A difference in language use shows up when we compare shops with one or two programmers to those shops having more than 50 programmers. Not surprisingly, larger shops are more likely to have significant Java use and also to do some .NET programming. And they are also far more likely to have J2EE applications as part of their strategic direction for future development — 47 percent vs. 10 percent."

But, I think it's really dumb that there is such a gap. The reason for a discrepancy no longer exists in application development.

For example, this small IT shop at a big manufacturer created an entire 100% Java-based Web system for nine plants in less than 12 weeks and that INCLUDES all their training, with team members having no prior Java experience.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

White Paper: Business Benefits of Modernization

This white paper may seem iSeries-centric, but it has got some great information in it that applies to every platform, and can apply to any IT department including those at ISVs. From a series of studies conducted by a consulting company, it talks about some of the surprising benefits of application modernization.

Some of the benefits covered:

  • Improved integration and reduced business costs

  • Increased sales opportunities

  • Improved sales

  • Reduced training and support costs

  • Read it here.

    We can relate because we were faced with modernization needs of our own, and here's what we did.

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    Here's a library you don't need a card for...

    ...just a few minutes of your time whenever you have it.

    This selection of mrc's online presentations are each under 15 minutes, some much less than that. Get a handle on application development technology and techniques in a matter of minutes.

    You can find them at the new mrc Webinar Library.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Home (page) renovations.

    We've been making some changes to our home page, to give you quicker access to the information you need.

    The new layout features easier access to:

  • Newsletters

  • mrc's User Forum

  • Crazybikes Demo site

  • White Papers site

  • ...and more...


    If you'd like to see more changes, just let us know by clicking the comments link below.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    30 Trends for 2006

    CIO Magazine's 30 Trends for 2006: Pursuit of the Frictionless Business Platform

    To prepare this report, CIO Magazine combed through the 13 surveys CIO Insight conducted in 2005 to identify 30 trends that will be critical in shaping our readers' priorities and careers next year.

    That research shows that CIOs are now trying to create a frictionless infrastructure. Companies need to be flexible, fast and informed to survive in the "flat" global economy described by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. CIOs are on a mission to build a technology base that will not impede the free flow of information, the availability of applications or the malleability of business processes.

    Read this article.

    Tuesday, January 31, 2006

    Modular development makes it easier for you to build and maintain your applications

    Today's development style is changing to meet the new capabilities of technology, and is changing for the better. By creating your applications as interactive "blocks," you can do more with less code. Each building block's behavior is based on how it is called meaning one program module (building block) might do the work of three or four different conventional programs.

    At mrc, we use SmartLinks to make it easier for you to use and re-use these "building block" applications to create larger and more complex systems.

    First, here's a definition of SmartLinks.

    To see it in action, here's a quick and fun little interactive presentation on mrc's "building blocks" to give you a visual concept of how it works.

    Monday, January 30, 2006

    Great business article--and not just for our Oracle users

    This article in Oracle Magazine gives you three surefire ways to increase revenue and lower costs today that anyone can use, perhaps even you.

    Friday, January 27, 2006

    Manufacturer's case study shows how Web application system can be built in less than 2 weeks

    Introducing this quick case study from UK-based Stannah Group, the largest stairlift manufacturer in the world. They were able to create an entire system of Web applications for their customers in just two weeks.

    You can read it right here.

    Additionally, this new quick-read case study style is one we will be using for all of our case studies, to allow you to skim the case studies quickly.

    If you like the new style, prefer the old one, or have suggestions to how we could improve the way you receive information, let us know.

    Thursday, January 26, 2006

    Omni User Group Conference

    Interested in the iSeries platform? Will you be in Chicago on February 7th?

    If so, come to the Drury Lane theater in Oak Brook, IL to hear the following popular speakers including: George Farr, Kent Milligan, Jim Oberholtzer, Larry Bolhuis, Joe Pluta, John Paris/Sue Gantner and many others on the state of the iSeries going into 2006.

    Session topics will include the latest information on Virtualization, iSeries Access, RPG ILE, Websphere, Java, SQL and much more.

    If you are interested in learning more, visit the: omni user group conference site here.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2006

    Last chance to sign up to win your Innovation Awards: Sign up today!

    IBM has teamed up with COMMON, the world’s largest group of IT professionals who use midrange IBM and IBM-compatible information technology, to offer IBM eServer iSeries Innovation Awards.

    The nominations for the 2006 IBM eServer iSeries Innovation Awards are open through end of day next Tuesday, January 31, 2006. This means that you have less than one week to nominate your favorite customer, your own firm, or yourself for this award that recognizes business and IT innovation at the highest level.

    Here are the five nomination categories for the 2006 IBM eServer iSeries Innovation Awards:

  • Application Deployment Award
  • Business Resiliency Award
  • Infrastructure Simplification Award
  • i5/OS Focus Award
  • Education Excellence Award

    For further descriptions and additional details on these award categories, go to
  • Innovation Awards.

    The award recipients and their teams will be honored at the IBM eServer iSeries Innovation Awards banquet, to be held at the Spring 2006 COMMON Conference and Expo in Minneapolis on Monday, March 27, 2006.

    Award recipients will receive: a crystal award, complimentary
    2006 COMMON membership, five complimentary registrations to a 2006 COMMON conference, one complimentary registration to the 2006 COMMON IT Executive conference, feature articles in COMMON.Connect Magazine and IBM eServer iSeries Edition Magazine, and other press features.

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