Monday, December 31, 2007

What is the most commonly used BI tool? Is it true in your organization?

At 67% of the companies surveyed in this recent Business Intelligence survey, it's the spreadsheet.

But, that's not good news if you've invested tens of thousands of dollars in a Business Intelligence system. It usually means end-users can't quickly access the information they need and spreadsheets are the only way of controlling their productivity.

But, you can change that. Here's one easy way»

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2007: A look back at the predictions. How true for you?

Now that the champagne is chilling and we begin to look ahead to next year, let's take a quick look to see what the predictions were for 2007.

Did any of them come true for you?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays from all of us at mrc!

Click on the image below to watch the movie and get a holiday cookie recipe!

Monday, December 17, 2007

CIO Tip: Bringing Web 2.0 into your Enterprise

This article gives a quick snapshot into ways you can start thinking about Web 2.0 methods to improve your business. Your customers are talking about you. Here's how to join their conversation»

And, if you are interested in learning more about how m-Power can help get you to Web 2.0, here's an article we did recently on understanding Web 2.0 and how to make it work for you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How to keep your skills sharp and relevant.

As growing trends point to businesses shedding IT staff and farming out noncore competencies, CIOs and IT managers must learn to adapt fast in order to keep their departments (and their skills) relevant.

This article gives good tips on how to move forward, evaluate core competencies, recognize outsourcing risks, and what that implies for IT management.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

BI Indigestion?

The most important component to Business Intelligence is how it's digested. This survey shows how users both receive BI and...(more importantly) how they prefer to receive their BI.

Are you providing Business Intelligence in the ways your users prefer?

Friday, November 30, 2007

10 keys to a successful BI strategy

Business Intelligence is more than just a buzzword. It can be daunting. It can be expensive. It can sink IT departments below ground for months and longer.

And, with the IT world aflutter with articles about it, it can be easy to forget that Business Intelligence is more than technology.

Here are 10 key principles to help you develop a successful BI strategy (even if you are in the midst of BI hell.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Understand all the benefits of portals to your business? Here's a crash course.

How does a portal fit your business needs? Let's see if it does.

Here is a new straightforward overview of portals and portlets and what they can mean for your business.

And, creating a portal like this one (Sign in as 10DKS10 as both user and password to view it) can be accomplished very quickly and cost-effectively. For more information, sign up here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Web application tip: Variable data sources

Oftentimes large companies have a problem with Web architectures because they might want their code to execute over variable data sources. A variable data source may be as simple as a library list in a System i environment, or as complex as information coming from a different server(IP) and different database(e.g. Oracle, DB2, etc).

In many cases a company's choice becomes either A)make multiple copies of an application for each specific data source (which can quickly become unwieldy to manage), or B) find a non-Web architecture way to deliver the application (which keeps you relying on legacy).

m-Power's web 2.0 templates eliminate this Hobson's choice by making it possible to point one Web application to your variable data sources. Here's how to do it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Worried about the Cognos-IBM merger? Don't be.

Delivering BI applications while they sort out their platform/database discrepancies isn't any big deal--especially when you are creating applications in minutes that can work with either system.

Testing that out online is easy enough, but if you want to really put it to the test with your own files, drop us a line and we'll show you how.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Congratulations to our iPod Touch winner!

Congratulations to Lionel Halvorsen of the City of Farmers Branch, TX who won our Fall giveaway of the brand new iPod Touch!

And, thank you again to those of you who went the extra mile and participated in our mpowerment quiz to identify the kinds of topics, industry news, and product information you'd like to see from us in 2008.

It's not too late! Just take this two minute mpowerment quiz and tell us what kinds of information you could use to be even more successful in the coming year!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Web Application Tip: How to hang with the big boys

Small and midsize companies can use basic technologies and outside service providers to collaborate seamlessly with larger partners, and do it for very little. Here's how»

And, if you'd like to see a real life example of how one customer has been able to improve collaboration with their partners, take a look at this case study.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Give us your insights--win an iPod Touch.

We're drawing the winner of an iPod Touch, Wednesday, November 21.

Take this two minute survey to help us stay "in touch", and enter to win this iPod Touch. (Get your surveys in before 11:59, CST, November 21 to be eligible.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Leftover Modernization: Homemade Turkey Pot Pie

It's time for that age-old question. What to do with all of that leftover turkey? Here's a great way to turn it into something fresh and new!

Here's our closely guarded recipe for Homemade Turkey Pot Pie

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at mrc!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Best face forward: The importance of Web design.

If you do not enlist the aid of a qualified graphic designer in developing your web applications, you need to take a look at this forum post.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Top 10 mistakes of creating self-service Web applications--and how to avoid them

This CIO magazine article is one of the most useful Web articles I have read recently. It's targeted to developers creating self-service Web applications for suppliers, partners, customers, and prospects...but the underlying advice is universal.

Here are the top 10 mistakes companies make in introducing self-service...and how you can avoid them.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Web Design Tip: Taking advantage of white space in your Web apps: A quick how-to.

When you're putting together the graphical elements for your Web applications, one of the most important elements is one that you probably take for granted...Space.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

What Every Manager (IT or otherwise) Should Know About Feedback

Here's an interesting article from CIO magazine that every IT leader, and really every manager should read about sharing information and communication...including the three elements of effective feedback.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Modernize your applications: 8 different ways.

This white paper, as you might gather from the title, offers eight ways to modernize the applications you use with your enterprise software packages, and it breaks down the pros and cons to each.

It also includes a handy checklist that you should keep by your side when selecting your solutions. Access the "8 Approaches for Modernizing your ERP" white paper here»

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Development Tip: Copy files from one database to another in one step

Sometimes even little changes can make a big difference in business productivity and profitability. What was the world like before calculators? Post-it notes? Staples? Staple-removers?

There have been lots of inventions over the years, but here is one that can make a huge difference if your company copies data files from one database to another.

What used to be a tedious set of time-consuming steps (and error-prone) can now be done in one step, with one command. Here's how»

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What do you do when software packages fall short? Here's how one Movex customer got out of a bind.

Sometimes, when your enterprise software falls short, it can feel like you're in an endless cycle of inefficient stop-gap measures.

General Binding Company had just that problem.

The company's Movex software package didn't have the reporting capabilities they needed, and their IT department was forced to continually create ad-hoc reports to fill the gap. They knew they needed an operational reporting system that could tie directly to Movex, but also one that wouldn't actually make changes to the underlying core software package.

Here's what they did»

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Are your users sharing data by emailing Excel docs? There's a safer, better way.

Every day end-users across the globe spend a large amount of time pulling data into spreadsheet programs like Excel, and then using pivot tables and the like to analyze data. This wastes a lot of time, is insecure, inefficient, and often inaccurate.

But, there's a new way you can help your end-users save time, do away with security issues, AND create their own Web reports. Here's a short presentation on how»

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What is the one thing you wish you could fix on your enterprise system?

Ever found yourself in the tough situation of needing better applications for your users, but not having the time (or budget) to start making changes to your enterprise system?

UK-based Stannah Group, the largest stairlift manufacturer in the world had that problem. Then, they created an entire system of Web applications for their customers in just two weeks...fully tied to their ERP, without touching it.

Here's what they did.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Expanding on your "Imports": How to import HTML from other applications.

A few weeks back, I showed you how to use web 2.0 servlets to import html from other servlets.

That generated lots of interest and some questions that I try to address here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Don't panic over Rogue IT when you can do something about it.

The Boston Globe reports that half of employees feel "more empowered than IT to control their personal IT environment," according to a new Yankee Group report (You'll need to register with their Web sites for the full articles.)

Here's the gist: Your employees look at IT as a bottleneck or a barrier to solving their problems rather than a means. So, they try solving their own problems by downloading desktop applications or e-mailing information in spreadsheets. This puts you at risk for viruses and security breaches.

However, giving users a set of centrally located Web tools, under your oversight but in their control, dramatically changes those dynamics. You can create web solutions like executive dashboards to give them a place to go, and even let them create Web reports from spreadsheets»

For a free sample application over your own files, to show your colleagues, just fill out this form to get started.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Get the latest how-to development articles, updates, and tips--here's how»

If you haven't been to the m-Power User Forum recently, there are a number of brand new useful tips, tricks, and technical documents. And, now it's easy to stay on top of the updates. If you'd like to subscribe to a topic thread, or the forum itself, to be notified when new articles are posted, it's easy to do!

Here are the steps:
1) Click here to go to the m-Power forum and sign in, or register.
2) Click on a link to one of the forum topics...for example, "Tips and Tricks"
3) Now, in the top left corner just above the forum box, there is a link called "Forum Tools". Click on that, and two options appear, Mark this Forum Read, and Subscribe to this Forum. Select 'Subscribe to this Forum.'
4) There's a drop down window that lets you select daily or weekly updates (Your choice), and then hit subscribe. (You can click on Control Panel link, then subscriptions, to view your subscriptions or unsubscribe.)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Use Gadgets to share your servlets with the world . . .

... or just your close friends, customers, vendors, sales force - whoever you deem appropriate.

This post will show you how you can share servlets you've built through iGoogle gadgets.

This can be another way to keep your information in front of those who need to see it on a daily basis.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Eye on Useful ResearchTools: Stumbling onto the Web

This new blog feature is to make you aware of new Web sites and services that might help you stay at the top of your game without a lot of extra research/work.

Today's featured Web helper is called StumbleUpon.

The premise of StumbleUpon is that you select the topic you are interested in, and the StumbleUpon toolbar shows you unique topic-related sites, often sites you might not find using your normal everyday search engine.

It may seem a little random, it IS a little random, but it's a great way to broaden your awareness of the Web, and develop a great little cache of go-to sites in topics that interest you, both personally and professionally.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Could you build a sophisticated Web-based reporting system in 3 weeks? IT Jungle shows how Boise Cascade did it, and well.

Last May, when Boise Cascade's management told them to develop a complex and comprehensive Web-based reporting system that could interface with multiple host systems...and then to do it in three weeks time...they just about fell over. Boise Cascade's application development team thought the deadline would be impossible to meet.

However, despite being short a developer, the group persevered and managed to meet its deadline.

Here's how»

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Development Tip: Get into the "Import" Business with web 2.0 servlets

This may be just about the easiest way you will ever find to build dashboards and put building block servlets together into comprehensive applications.

And what's better? It's less than a two minute read. Click here to see for yourself.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What you should consider in your BI - Part 3 : Separating the players from the pretenders

Most BI tools fall down when it comes to allowing data-entry.

If we can't add or modify important data to include the full picture of new customers, or products, or plants...then BI becomes virtually useless. And, if we're not going to be able to see the accurate or whole picture, what is the point?

Here are 2 demos showing you three easy (and different) ways you can enter/update your data with m-Power. This example shows the benefit as it pertains to creating budgets/projected sales:

  • Method 1: Mass (Fast) Budget Entry

  • Methods 2 and 3: Work With Budgets and Budget Additions

  • Then, you can see the final report with all of the changes when you visit Budget Report and you make your selections and hit return. (In this system our budgets are by year, month, customer, and product.)

    If you are looking to build a BI system, give m-Power a look. If you'd like to see how easy it is to build an application using m-Power, visit our online trial today and test it out via the Web!

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Is SOA a reality, or a myth?

    This recent article from IBM's e-Server Magazine sets out to answer this question. I'll give you a's not a myth.

    What it is, is a useful implement, one you should have in your arsenal, but one of many implements you should include in the ongoing battle to not only modernize your systems, but to remain relevant in a global marketplace.

    Recently, our friends at Bimba Manufacturing deployed an application to SOA in a matter of seconds, giving life to a portal application, and integrating it with an outside system. You can read about it here»

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Collaboration for Innovation: How partnering up can be good for you.

    While partnerships are nothing new between companies to develop new product lines or services...partnerships often get overlooked when it comes to internal innovations and departmental problem-solving. And that's a mistake.

    This article examines two separate, and very unlikely, business partnerships that led to major savings, and incredible financial gains. And, with their tips for winning over management, colleagues, and staff, approaching your current business problems with a collaborative spirit might be the solution you've been searching for.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    What you should consider in your BI Part 2 - For the Power User

    Power Business Intelligence users don't always want everything laid out for them. They often want the ability to pick and choose what they are going to look at. Something like this:

    Sales By Year : Ad Hoc Query
    Or they may want a combination where this is linked to some of the views we presented in Part 1. (See September 10th Post) That's all very easy to do with m-Power.

    But to really separate the men from the boys (so to speak) with respect to tools used to build your Business Intelligence system, stay tuned to Part 3 . . .

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Educating Non-Tech Execs about Tech (In 5 Hours or Less)

    IT departments have a vested interest in keeping their counterparts on the business side informed about technology, and technological opportunities for business.

    Why, you ask?

    Well, keeping your senior management informed is a win-win when it comes to getting your pet projects pushed through. If you can convey to them the benefits of IT applied to your business, and make them see why technology is invaluable, you might just be considered invaluable yourself.

    Here's a short article on how to teach your Non-Tech Execs about Technology.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Web Tip: Put practical wireless apps into action.

    Wireless (with all its gadgets and spaceage beaming) can be hard to envision practically applied to your business. But you might be surprised.

    How many steps are involved in orders? How can a field rep look up product availability from the road? How can a manager get sales numbers when they are stuck in a snowstorm in Dubuque? How can you reset a server when you are poolside yourself?

    Here's how this UK manufacturer put real warehousing solutions in the palm of their users hands...literally.

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    What you should consider in your BI Part 1 - Endless views: Try to keep count.

    Business Intelligence - Everyone does it in one form or another. Here are three examples of the more traditional approach, with all the data pre-sliced and diced for the BI user:

    Sales By Year: YTD
    Sales By Year: Full-Year Data
    Overall Monthly Sales
    These examples were built with m-Power, but even cooler than that is the versatility of Java servlets behind the examples. To see what I mean, click through all the links in each application and note the URLs as you go. Can you count how many times servlet I00610s is re-used, and all of its different looks?

    Does it ever show you the same data twice? That's the object-oriented power you get when you build your applications with m-Power. One build will bring you a multitude of views for your users, each with a different purpose.

    (If you'd like to build something like this, just fill out this form and tell us what you need. We'd be more than happy to build you a live proof of concept.)

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    7 Ways to Protect Legacy Systems When Boomers Retire

    The fact that a generation of some of IT's most experienced and knowledgeable professionals will be leaving over the next decade has been discussed for years, yet most organizations have done little to prepare for this exodus of talent, especially as it concerns maintaining all-too-important legacy systems.

    Here are 7 recommendations on how to retain this know-how to preserve your company's assets.

    Tuesday, September 04, 2007

    Take the datamart challenge: Integrate your data for all (authorized users) to see.

    With more than 15 million records in their datamart and more than 600,000 records being added each month, Bosselman had a huge BI challenge on their hands. How to analyze that amount of information, and distribute it in useful, meaningful formats among fifteen different companies representing 8 different industries.

    This was no small BI task. It was a datamart challenge. See how they rose to meet it»

    Monday, September 03, 2007

    The most versatile "Top 10-style" reports you've ever seen

    Our Web 2.0 reports make doing "Top XX" reports (e.g. Top 10 sales offices, Top 20 products sold) so easy and versatile.

    This post will take you through some quick examples of just how easy and versatile.

    In coming weeks, I'll show you how to combine this versatility with the "Import" features of our Web 2.0 reports to build dashboards in a snap.

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007

    Mobile business: Why it's barreling over the horizon, and what you can do to prepare.

    Everyone agrees the future of global business is mobile, but America has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to adopting mobile devices and strategies.

    Why that is, why that's changing, and what to look for to get your business up to speed.

    If you'd like to begin, our consultants can give you a free evaluation and a place to start. Just let us know »

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Application Tip: Fun with SQL

    Our Web 2.0 templates now allow you to modify the servlet data base work (SQL statement) through m-Painter.

    This quick tip shows you how and when you might want to do so.

    Thursday, August 23, 2007

    Love your legacy's okay.
    We did and do!

    This article from Computerworld covers a topic near and dear to many of our hearts: legacy code, with its wonderful merits and problematic future.

    It is also worth noting that there are ways to retain its power while safely moving forward. m-Power users incorporate their own time-tested legacy code such as that written in COBOL or RPG, and integrate it into their new Java applications seamlessly.

    And, because the code is time-tested, your new applications are faster, easier for users, and more flexible. We know because we had to do it ourselves. Here's what we had to do (PDF)»

    Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    10 best practices for IT-business alignment that you can adopt today.

    With all of the constant chatter about how IT is becoming more of a commodity, and how CIOs need to become better business analysts, one area that is often left to our imaginations are actionable ways to accomplish this feat.

    Here are 10 best practices that you can address to begin gaining notice on the business end of IT.

    Saturday, August 18, 2007

    New Web feature: Submit your applications to our live tour

    You may have noticed our new demo section featuring m-Power'd Web sites. In this new section, we are trying to showcase various application types built with m-Power.

    If you've created a Web application with m-Power that you are particularly proud of, we might want to help showcase your work.

    In some cases, these sites are live and can actually accept orders.

    This can not only serve as a great way to promote you and your company, but it can increase sales and exposure. (Might want to forward this on to sales or marketing.) If you'd like to find out more, just drop us a line, so we can consider you in our demo tour right away!

    And remember to check back regularly as we begin to add more sites to our demo area.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Road to CIO Tip: How to Foster Teamwork Between Insulated Groups

    The importance of building and managing strong teams in IT, and business in general, is often considered essential to success. But, sometimes this can backfire. Particularly when teams are asked to collaborate on projects. But, collaboration is essential to success as well.

    So, how can you get two strong teams to work together without facing an "us vs. them" mentality that can reduce your project to a squabbling mess?

    Here are some great tips from CIO magazine on balancing that tightrope.

    Wednesday, August 08, 2007

    For good BI (Business Intelligence), IT needs to get out of the middle.

    In a recent survey respondents predicted that within two years over 50% of their company's employees will use business intelligence software...even though less than 10% do now.

    Why the lag? One reason is that many BI products still require a great deal of IT intervention. As one Gartner analyst says, "If you're going to roll out BI throughout the company, you've got to get IT out of the middle."

    It takes empowering both end-users and developers to create BI solutions, and you need tools such as m-Power have to be both intuitive and comprehensive. If you have a few minutes now, you can test drive m-Power right now (via your Web browser) to get a better idea of what we mean.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    How to Spot a Failing Project So You Can Save It.

    Often, spotting critical early warning signs that a project is in trouble can make all the difference between success and failure. Here are a few ways to identify the symptoms.

    Sunday, August 05, 2007

    Tip: Customize enterprise applications without blowing up your TCO (total cost of ownership.)

    I just read this article in CIO magazine about how modifying new enterprise applications is not a good idea, and increases your TCO or Total Cost of Ownership.

    Each of the author's concerns are true...but only when done incorrectly. This article addresses each of these concerns...and gives you some viable options for customizing your business applications

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    4 Ways your technology direction can Impact the Bottom Line

    This report from Gartner outlines the four crucial areas where you can start developing projects and ideas to generate new revenue streams for the business.

    Thursday, July 26, 2007

    2007 Trends--How do they fit you so far?

    At the beginning of the year, Intelligent Enterprise released their predictions for the 7 top Trends of 2007 and ran the gamut from adopting Web 2.0 (now dubbed Enterprise 2.0) applications to creating better information flow for manufacturers, to full-scale integration in industries such as healthcare.

    How do these match up with your concerns so far this year?

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    The 4-hour workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (and other summer must-reads for IT)

    It's that time of year, time to pack your beach bag full of SPF 50 and that hot new beach book, and hit the sand and surf.

    But along with that spy thriller, you may want to tuck a few of these picks into your tote. Here are the top summer reading recommendations for Tech Professionals from eWeek's editorial staff. Check them out»

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Web Design Tip: Wrapping text around an image

    This quick and simple tip, can really come in handy when you are creating a Web page and an image and it's corresponding surrounding text is not fitting the way you need it to fit.

    Here's how to wrap text around an image»

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Enterprise 2.0: Why you should champion Web 2.0 technology, and how.

    One essential promise for Enterprise 2.0, or Web 2.0 for the enterprise, is making important information available to the people who need it, in large part by using blogs and wikis to capture and store institutional knowledge.

    Here are a few insights as to why you should be championing these causes in your organization, and how to get heard.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    Simplifying travel - for you and your co-workers

    With summer here, and travel imminent, your laptop may start racking up the miles alongside you.

    Of course, creating a system of wireless applications with m-Power that allow you to do work through your cell phone, means you won't need that bulky bag. Alan Batchelor, at Emhart Glass, did just that by creating a wireless application with m-Power that allows him to send commands from his cell phone even when he's poolside. Learn what else he built»

    But, grudgingly, I will admit that laptops themselves can come in handy on your trip--even if you're just trying to find the latest attractions--and that means lugging them around. So, what's the best one? Here's what one writer says is the "perfect" laptop bag»

    Tuesday, July 03, 2007

    Web Design Tip: How to avoid Email Spiders

    There are very few cons to having a Web presence, but today we're going to talk about one...and how you can avoid it: email spiders.

    Email spiders or spammer spiders, unlike search engine spiders, are out there for malevolent purposes. They are sent out to crawl the Web and scan Web sites for email addresses that the owner can either use themselves, or sell to other spammers...often both.

    Here's how to avoid them while still remaining reachable!

    Saturday, June 30, 2007

    How secure are mid-market companies? Where does your company fit?

    It's a fact that small companies may report fewer intrusions simply because they often lack the means to detect them, and often are at greater risk because they lack security measures.

    SMBs are responding by increasing the level of security spending from last year, but if these IT executives really want to sleep better at night, they should also focus on the tough task of changing the behavior of their employees.

    Here are three findings about the state of security in the small-to-midsize business marketplace»

    Thursday, June 28, 2007

    3 things you should always fake

    This is an interesting column on three areas (email, phone and search engine) that you might want to fake.

    Here's why»

    Thursday, June 21, 2007

    IT Innovation. What top CIOs recommend - and how it can help you.

    What's in store for IT, and where are we going? Sometimes the best way to gauge that commitment is to take a look at what other innovative people and companies are doing.

    Here's what 5 of the most innovative CIOs are saying about IT innovation and where your focus needs to be»

    Monday, June 18, 2007

    Web design tip: A guide to color associations and how they help your web site

    The colors you choose when designing your Web applications can make a difference between whether someone can read the text easily, whether it's a printable screen, even whether it puts them in a good mood.

    Colors affect us in all sorts of ways, and the choices you make can be crucial to the success of your project.

    Here is a basic guide to color associations that may help you when selecting a palette for your site.

    Friday, June 15, 2007

    Don't let large data files stymie your staff.

    Large data files don't have to hurt performance or stymie your staff as one company discovered recently.

    In trying to bring improved Business Intelligence to its end users they faced many challenges, not the least of which was the fact that their POS system was running outside their JD Edwards system, and the data wouldn't be combined until it hit general ledger. Additionally, they didn't have any developers on staff.

    How could they bring Web reporting to their users, and do it effectively, when their datafiles were growing at 600,000 records a day? Here's how they did it»

    Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    5 Strategies you can use to have a world-class IT organization

    After analyzing benchmark data from more than 2,100 companies including all but one of the 30 Dow Jones Industrials, a research group found that world-class IT organizations-those that achieve peak efficiency and effectiveness-spend 7 % more per end-user on IT operations than typical companies, but on average, earn that amount back fivefold in lower operational costs.

    Here are 5 key IT strategies to allow you to gain that maximum impact»

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Application Tip: Create powerful Web application from desktop spreadsheet

    What company doesn't have users working on desktop spreadsheet programs? They help make users more self-sufficient and productive, which is great, and they take the pressure off of IT. It's a win-win.

    But, when it becomes impossible to secure data or to know if the spreadsheet information you are viewing is as accurate and up-to-date as your neighbor's, it loses its luster.

    But, now there's a new way end-users be self-sufficient and share information while doing away with security issues. Here's a quick presentation on how to give your people an easy way to turn that spreadsheet data into a powerful Web app.

    Friday, June 08, 2007

    Best Practices: The right way to secure wireless applications.

    In a recent interview on wireless in the enterprise, a number of CIOs said securing the data on these devices was their biggest challenge. "Nothing can get on [wireless devices] unless we put it on," said one executive. "We lock it all down and keep it inside the enterprise and decide what goes out."

    Of course, this puts a limit on the whole notion of the freedom wireless provides. And what happens if you lose the device with all that crucial data on it? Or it's stolen?

    Emhart Glass's Alan Batchelor has a better solution.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    The Top 10 dead (or dying) computer skills...

    This Computerworld article has compiled the top 10 dead (or dying) computer skills. Where are you in the mix?

    What if the most effective way to harness your current skills means achieving the end result without the painful means?

    Wednesday, May 30, 2007

    CIO magazine lists top drivers for innovation

    Contrary to popular belief, innovation doesn’t have to result in complete business transformation or enormous expense.

    Recently CIO Magazine turned to the CIO Executive Council to see what they had to say about modern solutions and IT innovations, and surprisingly it's not about's about making innovation a subtle, manageable and core part of your organization.

    Here are 10 tips on how to do it»

    Monday, May 28, 2007

    Web Design Tip: Make your shopping cart sticky for better sales

    One of the biggest threats to online transactions is that your users will become frustrated, or distracted, and abandon their shopping carts before they have followed through the entire shopping experience from selection to final payment.

    Here are some design best practices to help you not only prevent the abandonment, but also to improve sales while they are there.

    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    MySQL gains popularity in both System i and Google.

    Many heard the recent announcement by IBM that they are supporting the MySQL database on the System i (formerly AS/400), but the support is flowing in. Google has unveiled new enhancements, and while Google doesn't use MySQL in its search, it uses it in its vast YouTube network...and that is a powerful, data-heavy, file-heavy site.

    My SQL, which started as a read-only database, caught on because of its ability to speedily serve Web pages. While MySQL hasn't displaced DB2 or Oracle as the two leading databases in production settings, among developers, a recent survey by Evans Data indicates the developer's database of choice for 40% of their responders. Read more here»

    Tuesday, May 22, 2007

    5 Best Practices for IT Cost Containment

    With the recent emphasis on crossover between business acumen and IT, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your budget, and do what you can to keep your IT costs down. One good reason? With these ever-blurring lines, now, more than ever, IT has its best shot at re-investing those savings.

    5 Best Practices for IT Cost Containment»

    Monday, May 21, 2007

    App Tip: Customize error messages in your Web applications

    One of the most important benefits of m-Power is the ease with which you can create customized Web applications.

    And that includes the wording of error messages, whether across the board, or for individual apps. (These are the messages your user sees if they enter data in the wrong field, or don't enter information in mandatory fields). See how easy it is»

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    The Business-Savvy Smartphone Review: Going wireless

    Many articles on smartphones cover the ins and outs of wireless devices for the average consumer, but here's an article that focuses on four of the top smartphones for business purposes, and why.

    Here's a short case study about one manufacturer's wireless applications to give you some ideas.

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    £50,000 for a custom app vs £250,000 for a canned one.

    Recently, a UK manufacturer in the market for an online shopping cart went to their packaged software vendor for what they hoped would be a "plug and play" solution. It certainly seemed like that would make the most sense. But, they found that with software, implementation, and training they would be spending £250,000, or around $440,000 US.

    This staggering cost had them looking for alternative options. And, what they found was even more surprising. They could (and did) create a customized shopping cart like this one in much less time, for much less money.

    The total price tag for all of their needs? £50,000. Just 1/5 the cost quoted for the canned solution.

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Success: How one company faced down massive datamart challenge with Web-based BI

    With 15 companies, representing 8 separate industries, flexible Web reporting was not only key, but crucial to keeping Bosselman Energy Company's employees informed, and able to do their jobs at top levels.

    And, with more than 15 million records in their datamart and more than 600,000 records being added each month, Bosselman had an even bigger challenge on their hands. See how they rose to meet it»

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Web design Tip: Exploring the Hidden workings of m-Painter

    When m-Power introduced its m-Painter features, we talked about the advantages it gives developers to create the look of their Web apps on the fly, and handed you the top 5 reasons to use it.

    But...we may not have given you a breakdown of some of the features at your fingertips. Here's a quick overview of the toolbar features.

    Thursday, May 03, 2007

    Many IT shops are playing it too safe. Is yours?

    According to this Information Week article, it's time to get back to innovation that drives business: "The numbers indicate that tech leaders need to snap their associates out of their comfort zones." They call it the ROI effect: "At times, companies put the kibosh on experimentation because they don't see the return on investment in it."

    But, it's that type of experimentation that can often lead to greater payoffs, and even greater solutions. Take the case of this IT innovator»

    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    SOA: Hype versus reality

    Is 2007 the year of SOA? Apart from the sheer technical complexity, full-scale deployment of SOA requires deep interdepartmental shifts. No wonder it’s slow going.

    “The IT side has to understand the business side – finally. They need to understand what the requirements are so that the IT department can create these applications and services to really support the business.” Read more»>

    Of course, it also helps when the technical complexity gets simplified. Let us know how m-Power can help your SOA project.

    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    BI tools to integrate existing apps and ease-of-use

    According to a recent Information Week survey, nearly 80% of respondents are interested in the ability to integrate BI offerings with existing applications. And, it's not only possible...but click your heels and, well...see below.

    This company created a powerful custom Business Intelligence Web dashboard that works with their existing systems...and they were able to create it in-house in a matter of days. Here's how»

    Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    Four steps to CIO relevance

    Here's an interesting (and short) article from InformationWeek outlining the four steps to staying relevant as a CIO: Streamline, Offload, Reinvest, Innovate.

    Get the steps»

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    Application Tip: How to go wireless with your Web applications

    Wireless applications continue to make their case for improving employee productivity and saving gobs of money.

    So...what if you could create them almost instantly and offer them to your business leaders at no additional cost and could single-handedly save your company big money?

    The only thing you need to do to deploy your m-Powered applications as wireless, is to tweak the presentation layers of your application differently to make it useful to the wireless user. Here's how»

    Friday, April 20, 2007

    Earth Day 2007: 10 steps to a green Data Center

    As most CIOs know, data centers often require a ton of electricity to maintain, and some vendors are starting to feel the CIOs' pain, marketing their servers and processors as energy efficient and eco-friendly.

    So, recently, CIO Insight sat down with Dave Douglas, the vice president of eco-responsibility at Sun Microsystems, to craft some ways to cut energy costs from the data center and do the earth a favor in the meantime.

    In honor of Earth Day (April 22), here are 10 steps to a green data center»

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    2 powerful IT conferences march into April and May education events

    We're on the move this month to some powerful new educational seminars. If any of these are in your neck of the woods, come by and see us!

    COMMON is just around the corner April 29-May 2, hosted in Anaheim, CA (Booth 401). And we'll be hosting a hands-on lab.

    We'll also be at the Friedman User Group Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada May 14-16, and we'll be presenting on building successful Web initiatives in the B2B market space.

    Check out more information on these events here»

    Monday, April 16, 2007

    Web Design Tip: Take your users where you want them to go.

    There are many reasons you may want to create a Web page that redirects your users to a different part of your site. It could be a cumbersome URL, a Web page that was removed, or reserving the right to make changes to an application's URL.

    Here's a quick how-to article to that tells you...well, how to create an HTML redirect or jump page.

    Friday, April 13, 2007

    Six Tips to Make IT projects and new ideas Succeed

    Helping your ideas gain traction in the boardroom (and in practice) can be a tricky business. A new book offers CIOs some best practices. Here's an excerpt»

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    Forget the Chart, Check the Cell Phone

    Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is betting you'll want your health data, especially if you're getting emergency treatment while traveling.

    Starting at the end of March, they are providing 100,000 of its members with electronic access to their and their dependents' personal health records. Members will be able to access their information from cell phones as well as PDAs and PCs.

    Read how this will work»

    If you're interested in creating a similar application, to run on a wireless phone, you can learn more about m-Power's wireless capabilities here.

    Friday, April 06, 2007

    Developers: Expect a new language in the next five years

    According to software experts attending the The ServerSide Java Symposium, IT should expect an entirely new language in the next five years, and an ongoing adaptation of current languages such as XML and Java. Read more about it here»

    But, m-Power users don't have to worry about that because m-Power insulates users from the constant changes in languages, and gives them the ability to constantly adapt to the changing times. It lets you focus on what you want to build, not HOW to build it. Test your skills here»

    It just takes 15 minutes to create one applications, and thirty minutes for two.

    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    Three major factors failing RFID

    There are three major factors that are causing RFID programs to fail according to Sara Lee CIO, which one is most harmful to your program?

    Wednesday, March 28, 2007

    Integration as Cure: the future of Medical Records

    Electronic Medical Records or EMRs faces its fair share of challenges, but the demand for them is growing. Electronic health records could improve care, reduce errors and eventually lower healthcare costs, but obstacles abound.

    One of the biggest? Most hospitals and doctor's offices use noninteroperable software and databases. And, there are some other obstacles such as privacy and cost.

    Here are some ideas on ways around these»

    Monday, March 26, 2007

    Dear Marcy, Why would anyone want to copy and paste Excel data?

    Dear Marcy,
    I get weekly sales data sent to me via csv files, and then I use pivot tables in Excel to analyze the information and create reports based on that information, and e-mail it to my colleagues. That way I don’t have to get IT involved, and they don’t have me messing around on the database.

    I saw last week that Joe was talking about Excel spreadsheets on his blog, and how end-users could copy and paste data from Excel into m-Power, but I went through the presentation, and I don’t really understand why a company would want to do this?

    Here's what Marcy had to say»

    Friday, March 23, 2007

    IT Productivity: Measuring the Immeasurable

    Raw productivity gains, according to this article, aren't sufficient to compete successfully in the 21st century. "What you want is agile productivity," he maintains. "You want to be able to repurpose the assets of your business as efficiently as possible to stay current with the market."

    Agility, of course, is but another way to describe a kind of perpetual state of innovation, of moving fast enough—through product and process development, and into and out of markets as opportunity dictates—to compete.

    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Poolside business apps and other (better) ways to do business.

    When Emhart Glass's Application Development Manager, Alan Batchelor, had to interrupt his vacation and go into the office because one of his servers was not started, he was pretty annoyed. And rightly so.

    Necessity is the mother of invention, though.

    Alan solved the problem, quite ingeniously, by creating a wireless application with m-Power that allows him to send commands from his cell phone even when he's poolside. And that was just he beginning. Learn what else he built»

    Friday, March 16, 2007

    New Coalition Giving U.S. Doctors Free E-Prescribing Software Services

    It's estimated that 3.2 billion prescriptions are written each year by U.S. doctors, and currently less than 20% of American doctors use e-prescribing, says Dr. Nancy Dickey, currently president of the Health Science Center and vice chancellor for Health Affairs at the Texas A&M University System and formerly president of the American Medical Association.

    It's also estimated that between 7,000-9,000 American patients die -- and 1.5 million are injured -- each year by preventable medication errors, according to a July 2006 report by the Institute of Medicine.

    Read all about it»

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    Study: Leading retail sites slow to adopt AJAX

    According to a recent survey less than 20 percent of retail shopping sites are using AJAX to build out their sites, and only 6 percent are using advanced AJAX techniques.

    "AJAX is arguably the best rich Internet application available to developers right now, but its complexity and the disruption to traditional development processes (seem) to be hindering the widespread adoption predicted by many experts," says one of the study administrators.

    Particularly in companies where product information can be called up (like retail) or manufacturing, distribution, so users can immediately get all of the information they need instantly. Of course, this isn't as big of an issue when AJAX is built right in.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    Cool new technology: Think cows with tattoos

    Just when you thought you've heard of everything...picture cows with tattoos. A new technology has been developed: a safe, invisible, RFID ink that can be detected up to four feet away.

    While the jury is still out on the big brother implications of this breakthrough, the possible uses of this ink seem boundless. The FDA and CDC will be able to track food from beginning to end to quickly track down such problems as e.coli outbreaks and animal diseases.

    Stolen goods can be quickly ID'd and returned. And in the supply chain community, this may mean an even more seamless method of tracking goods and packages from creation to sale, and everything in between. Learn more here»

    Thursday, March 01, 2007

    Trend to watch: How IT Is Revitalizing Staff Skills

    This ComputerWorld article offers insight as to where IT is leading, and keeping staffers focused on the best ways of applying technology to business, rather than focusing on technology skills in and of themselves.

    “You can go on the street and find a good Java programmer or those types of skills,” says William Ulrich, president of Tactical Strategy Group Inc. in Soquel, Calif. “It is much more difficult to go outside the company and find someone who understands the in-depth nature of your business.”

    Here's what skills are being valued»

    Friday, February 23, 2007

    Web 2.0 transcends hype for business

    You may not be ready to embrace concepts like "social computing" or "participative computing" in your organization, but the benefits of Web 2.0 can no longer be ignored. In fact, Web 2.0 figures prominently in Gartner's latest list of key actions IT leaders should take over the next three years to demonstrate value to their organizations. This article from 1105 Media gives you the 411. Read more»

    Thursday, February 22, 2007

    Trend to watch: Manufacturing Job One: Improve information flow.

    In a recent article published by Intelligent Enterprise on the Top Seven Trends to watch, one to focus on is found in Manufacturing's inherent need to improve information flow.

    Manufacturing executives realize that if they can solve the problem of gathering information from their company's portfolio of data sources in the plant or value chain--and build that capability into a linked enterprise process--they will have a considerable competitive advantage. Here are some examples of what we mean»

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    Magically turn Excel pivot tables into Web reports.

    Every day end-users across the globe spend a large amount of time pulling data into spreadsheet programs like Excel, and then using pivot tables and the like to analyze data. This wastes a lot of time, is insecure, inefficient, and often inaccurate.

    But, there's a new way you can help your end-users save time, do away with security issues, AND create their own Web reports. Here's a short presentation on how»

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    What SaaS (Software as a Service) means for you

    What is SaaS? Here's the simplest way to think of it: "The Web has become a solid application delivery platform, transforming the way we can deploy enterprise software." This CIO Magazine article gives you a better picture, AND names it as one of the top 5 major IT changes that you need to consider.

    Whatever you choose to call it, it all amounts to becoming more flexible and nimble and saving money by not having to write code from the ground up for each application. Here's one manufacturer's story on how they created an enterprise-level executive dashboard tied to their enterprise software package...without having to write it from scratch.

    Monday, February 12, 2007

    Calling all System i Innovators

    Individuals and organizations that have discovered innovative ways to utilize their System i platform are in luck.

    Now is the time to nominate someone—perhaps yourself--perhaps your favorite Tool Vendor (hint, hint)—for one of the IBM System i Innovation Awards. The nomination deadline for the 2007 awards is end of day on Wednesday, February 28, 2007.

    You've worked hard on your system designs, and development. Start reaping the rewards!

    Check out the details here»

    Friday, February 09, 2007

    Dear Marcy, What's the deal with AJAX?

    Dear Marcy,

    I keep hearing about AJAX, but I don't really have a grasp on what it's all about, or why it would be helpful for a company like mine? (We're strictly B2B.) Could you give me a basic understanding in a nutshell, of why I should be interested in it?

    --Curious in Canada

    Here's her response»

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Trend to watch: Business Analysts Step Up and Design for Agility

    There are new factors changing not only Business/IT alignment, but also the role of the business analyst. This shift puts the business analyst in the role of application planning, and design in many cases--without any specific IT implementation required of them.

    This renewed focus on "What is Needed" rather than "How it is built" is a paradigm shift similar to the IT equivalent of what manufacturers did to enable themselves to construct product simulations before ever cutting a single piece of material.

    Here's a quick article that takes a look at the ins and outs of the Business Analysts changing role.

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    Curious about how PHP stacks up to Java?

    You've probably been hearing a lot about PHP of late, but what's not so clear is how it stacks up against other languages like Java, and when it is best used.

    This article (sign in as ID/password marcy/marcy) says this: "So how does PHP fare against Java? It depends on the application. If it's an enterprise application that requires integration with multiple applications, languages, and databases, Java or .NET beat out PHP."

    PHP is easy to learn, and easy to use to create basic dynamic Web applications, but the article offers this caveat: "But the more sophisticated your PHP applications become, the more it makes sense to use Java."

    (The nice thing is, using m-Power to develop those complex Java apps is even faster than using and executing simple PHP.) Try it out here»

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    Dear Marcy, Your competitors tell me they access multiple databases too, so what is the big deal?

    Dear Marcy,
    I’ve been looking at application development tools that can access multiple databases (I need to access SQL Server and Oracle 10g along with DB2). mrc is always talking about how m-Power can access any database, but I’ve been talking to two of your competitors and they both say their products do the same thing.

    I don’t see why this is the topic of so much discussion if it’s something everyone else does too. --Comparing Apples to Apples?

    Here's her response»

    Wednesday, January 31, 2007

    Web Design Tip: Use an HTML checker

    When your site has HTML errors, missing links, spelling mistakes and browser-compatibility problems, your site is losing its effectiveness.
    Luckily, there are tools out there to let you double-check your work and rid yourself of some of these common problems.

    This short article tells you about one tool that offers a free trial that works so great...well, we'll let you decide.

    Tuesday, January 30, 2007

    Trend to watch: Improving on processor speed.

    This article, from Intelligent Enterprise magazine, in the section titled, "Computing at a Crossroads" talks about how despite rapid performance growth between 1986 and 2002, nearly doubling performance and power almost every 18 months, microprocessor companies in 2004 hit a "Power Wall," and what it will mean to programmers going forward. The ball is now in their court.

    Programmers will need to learn to architect applications that most advantageously take advantage of these processors using techniques such as "paralleling" and multi-threading, in order to gain the best performance from their applications, to improve performance per watt, or performance per dollar within the peak performance of the microprocessor.

    With the advent of mrc's new Web 2.X templates, these considerations are already built in, creating systems of multi-threading for the best scalability and to use the processor most efficiently.

    Smartphones and you: Running BI from your mobile device.

    With the new introduction of Apple's iPhone, SmartPhones are in the spotlight once again.

    Here's a great side-by-side comparison of what to look for from your SmartPhone operating systems.

    And remember, while you can offer Linux-based applications on the phone itself, providing browser-based applications may be faster and more secure. After all, if everything is through a browser, if you lose your phone, the only thing you the phone.

    Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    Portals and Portlets: What they are, and what they do.

    Portals and portlets are terms often bantered about and can be very powerful business tools, but what do you need to do to create them, and what makes them different from other Web applications?

    Here is a new straightforward overview of portals and portlets and what they can mean for your business.

    Monday, January 22, 2007

    Web Design Tip: Hex colors and how to use them.

    When designing a Web page in HTML, colors are defined using a 6-figure coding system called hexadecimal(or hex) colors .

    For example, if you wanted to make some text red, you could type: <font color="#FF0000">This is a hexadecimal code for red</font> into your HTML, and your Web page would show this: This is a hexadecimal code for red.

    But where do these 6-figure codes come from, and how can you determine which colors will work for your site?

    Here's a quick article to give you the background along with some tools you can use to make color selection easier.

    Friday, January 19, 2007

    Dear Marcy, I can't tell if shopping cart is tied to a larger system, or if it's just a demo application.

    Dear Marcy,
    We are in the process of researching how to develop a shopping cart/order entry system for our customers. We've run across a variety of options in the process. One way requires us to copy data over from our backend system to an MS-based server (to provide an extra layer of security), and have the MS guys create the application from there. But, I've been arguing with management that this is inefficient, and also dangerous in its own right because of data inaccuracies.

    The other option we've been looking at is a plug-in module manufactured by our MRP vendor.

    I know crazybikes has a shopping cart. But, I can't figure out from your site whether it's tied to a larger complex backend system, or if it's just a stand-alone demo application that was hand-coded. What is it written over and/or is it possible to write it over my MRP (we use Movex)? If so, how much would something like that cost? Would we need a consultant? --Exploring Options

    See her response here»

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007

    Attend the Omni User Group Conference for DB2/400 users in Chicago

    It will include a brand new mrc hands-on lab (with new Web 2.X features) and industry experts speaking on various modern business and IT solutions. For more information, visit our events page.

    Or, if you would like to try our original hands-on lab online instead, you can do that right now if you like! Just sign up here. (It takes less than 1/2 an hour to develop 2 Java applications!)

    Monday, January 08, 2007

    Study: Most managers' info searches are useless

    A newly released study from Accenture says most managers' info searches are useless, and that more than half the data they find has no value to them.

    Here are a few interesting statistics:

    • Only 16% store valuable data in a collaborative workspace like a portal.
    • Over 42% said they accidentally use the wrong information at least once a week.
    • 57% said having to go to numerous sources to collect data makes managing it difficult. On average, the managers said they go to three different sources to find certain types of information.

    Creating a portal like this one (Sign in as 10DKS10 as both user and password to view it) solves many of these problems and can be accomplished very quickly and cost-effectively.

    Friday, January 05, 2007

    Web Design Tip: Including Icon in URL

    You may have noticed that often next to the URL in your browser, or in your favorites folder, companies have placed their logo or a corporate icon of some kind.

    For example:

    If you would like to do the same for your Web site, it's easy. We've posted an easy how-to article on the User Development Forum. You can find it here»

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