Thursday, December 31, 2009

7 Steps For Making a New Year’s Resolution and Keeping It


The beginning of a new year is always great. We get to put the old year in the past and start a new one with a clean slate. Then, by the end of January when we’ve broken all of our new year’s resolutions, we get to look forward to the start of the next year…in 11 months.

Do you have trouble keeping your resolutions? Join the crowd. If you’d like to correct the problem, here’s a good article on lifehack.org entitled, “7 steps for making a new years resolution and keeping it”.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Customer service is good business, but difficult to track


The other day, my wife complained to me about a certain company who didn’t care about their customers. She couldn’t believe their poor customer service and their unwillingness to help her, a longtime customer.

My response: Many businesses don’t believe customer service will generate revenue, so they don’t invest much money in it. Until they see that bad customer service hurts business or good customer service helps business, they won’t change.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Attitude and productivity


What effect does a bad attitude have on productivity?  Answer: More than you can imagine.  According to this somewhat dated, but still very applicable article, negativity costs the US economy between $250 to $300 billion a year.

While I can't begin to imagine how they came up with that number, it provides a little insight into the effect a bad attitude has on the bottom line.  Even if the real amount is closer to half of $300 billion, it's still a huge number.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The future of business


The future of business is real-time.  Customers don’t want to wait for answers.  Executives don’t want to wait for data.  No one wants 24-hour turnaround anymore.  Everyone wants everything instantly, right now. 


Who can blame them?  The business world has been trending towards real-time for a few years now.  Technology that makes every aspect of your business operate in real-time has existed for some time now.  Those that have fallen behind the real-time technology curve will stand out like a sore thumb in the coming years. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy holidays from your friends at mrc


This holiday season, I have a special treat for you. I’ve managed to wrestle a previously unshared cookie recipe out of the hands of one of our employees here at mrc. While often requested, this recipe has never before been given to anyone…until now.

Word of warning: While I can attest to the deliciousness of these cookies, I can’t speak for the nutritional information. In fact, if you’re at all concerned with nutritional information, you probably shouldn’t make these cookies. But, what’s the point of the holidays if not for breaking a diet or two? So, if you want a great cookie recipe this holiday season, you can find it in our forums.

I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for reading my blog this past year. From all of us here at mrc, we wish you happy holidays and safe travels!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The government's modernization mistake


I’ve written many times about the importance of modernizing your outdated systems.  Those that rely on old technology find themselves at a disadvantage, unable to keep up with the rapidly changing world of technology.  Even worse, they appear behind-the-times to their customers and may even leave their data or company at risk.

The U.S. Government just learned that the hard way.  As it turns out, Iraqi insurgents have been stealing video feeds from their surveillance drones using $26 software readily available online.  Even worse, now that the government knows what’s happening, they’re having trouble fixing the problem because the network is more than a decade old and runs on proprietary software.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

10 ways to reenergize your staff


I’m sure the business world isn't very sad to put 2009 behind them. It wasn’t a good year for many companies. Many employees lost their jobs. Many who who still have jobs are stressed out and worried about the 2010 economy.

Chances are, morale is lower going into 2010 than it was a year ago, and nothing drains productivity like low morale.  So, how can you re-energize and motivate your employees? How can you provide a great, low-stress work environment in a bad economy? Jon Gordon, a workplace motivation expert provides some great tips that can be applied in just about any company. You can check them out at CIOInsight.com.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Order Entry as it should be


I speak to lots of companies about application modernization and what it can, and has done for their business. Often, they are afraid to try and modernize their order entry application. The reasons vary.

Many consider screen scraping and bringing their character based order entry application to the browser sufficient. I'm not sure that I agree.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Why I won’t ever buy a GPS unit again


I’m never buying a standalone GPS unit ever again, for the same reason I’ll never buy a pager, Peek, or PDA. Why? Because I recently upgraded to the Droid, which performs all of the tasks I mentioned above…eliminating the need for devices built for a specific purpose.

It’s a simple concept: I don’t want to purchase or carry around four different devices, so I bought one that does everything. This is a concept that should be carried over into enterprise software purchases, but seldom is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The key to a successful business plan


We’re nearing the end of another year, which can only mean one thing: It’s time to plan for 2010. It’s time to take a look back at the last year, analyze the data, and make a plan for next year based on that data.

But what if you’re doing it wrong? What if you’re missing a vital step in the process? According to this article on Forbes.com, successful companies focus their planning efforts more on the future and less on the past.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Save money, listen to your customers


AT&T and Verizon have been doing a bit of bickering lately, which has attracted plenty of media attention. Verizon has run ads disparaging AT&T’s network, and AT&T filed a lawsuit against Verizon (which was later dropped) and run counter-attack ads.

What AT&T needs to understand is this: Verizon didn’t say anything that people didn’t know already. Ask any iPhone user what their biggest complaint is, and 9 times out of 10 you will hear, “The network.” In fact, consumer reports just verified the general consensus in their latest “Cell-phone service” survey, in which AT&T came in dead last. Verizon simply listened to AT&T’s customers and broadcasted the message.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The overwork cult is alive and well


Suppose you have two companies that are the same in all aspects except one.  In the first company, everyone works 12 hours every day.  In the second company, everyone puts in a regular 8-hour day.  Which company is more likely to succeed?

While I’m sure most would choose the first company, this article provides an alternate point of view that flies in the face of common thought.  While many connect working overtime with success, it may actually have the exact opposite effect.

If your company encourages employees to work overtime, check it out…it’s a very interesting read.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

7 productivity tips for people who hate Getting Things Done


Considering the sheer amount of productivity advice in existence today, it’s a wonder that anybody is unproductive.  There are articles, books, and entire methodologies devoted to the subject (Getting Things Done).

Despite all the advice, the two most important productivity tips were things that I had to figure out myself.  First, I’ve learned that I'm infinitely more productive with a good night's sleep.  That is the single most important productivity factor for me.  Second, I concentrate better in the morning.  Therefore, I work on tasks that require greater concentration in the morning.

Want some more productivity tips?  Check out this article on zenhabits.net entitled, "7 productivity tips for people who hate GTD”.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The "Pimp my Ride" effect


Have you ever seen “Pimp my Ride” on MTV? In every episode, they find the worst looking car possible, and make it look flashy. This usually involves chrome, video monitors, lots of speakers, and obnoxious paint jobs.

Now in the very few episodes that I’ve seen, the outside of the car was completely overhauled, but nothing under the hood was touched. In other words, the old beat-up 85’ Yugo now looks glamorous, but inside it’s still an old beat-up 85’ Yugo. The way I see it: Garbage covered in chrome is still garbage.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

User guide improvements


The PDF version of the m-Power manual was recently enhanced to include a very nice table of contents for easy navigation. If you prefer reading on good old-fashioned paper, I’m sure you’ll be quite pleased with the improvements.

However, I must warn those who prefer the printed manual: Due to the sheer quantity of updates we push out to m-Power, a printed manual will typically be out-of-date within a week or so.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

16 declining tech salaries for 2010


I don’t think I have to tell anyone that 2009 was a bad year for the economy. Positions were eliminated, jobs were shipped overseas, and salaries were trimmed, as detailed by this article on Eweek.com entitled, “16 declining tech salaries for 2010”.

The workload, on the other hand, hasn’t changed. Many companies have critical projects on the table, but can’t afford to hire consultants or bring on new staff with the necessary skills. If you’re in that boat, here’s a bit of information you may not know: You might be able to use your current employees.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Celebrate Thanksgiving with Smoked Salmon


Is it just me, or has 2009 just flown by? I can’t believe it’s already Thanksgiving week again.

This Thanksgiving I'd like to share a recipe for smoked salmon (from foodnetwork.com) and a few humorous holiday quotes.

Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants.
- Kevin James

Friday, November 20, 2009

How to train your employees on the cheap


Keeping employees up-to-date with current trends and technologies is critical for any successful business. The only problem: Training costs money, and money is in short supply for many companies these days.

If your company is in that situation, you’re in luck. Thanks to the internet, we have many training options at our fingertips…absolutely free. While the internet can’t replace a training class dedicated to a specific subject, it’s a viable alternative when money is tight.

Here’s some advice for department or company leaders with limited training budgets:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

5 ways to be more effective with your time


How many of you have ever wished you could manipulate time?  I sure have.  I would get everything checked off my to-do list and maybe even sneak in a nap or two when I get tired.  It would be great!

Unfortunately, we’re stuck with just 24 hours in a day and it’s up to us to use that time as effectively as possible.  If you struggle with effective time use, or just want some tips, check out this video on Techrepublic.com.  It covers 5 ways you can be more effective with your time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Build web apps in minutes


Did you know anyone - not just programmers - can build web applications in minutes with m-Power?

If you want to see it for yourself, check out the all new m-Power demo video. In this short video, you will see m-Power in action as we take you through the creation of a maintenance application.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Integration and ease of use vs. features


A couple of weeks ago, I stressed the importance of user adoption in the software purchase process. Software that users don’t use is useless, however full-featured and powerful it may be.

Similar to user adoption, I believe that integration often takes a back seat to features in the buying process. Companies become so blinded by functionality, they lose sight of the more important aspect - software integration.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

CIO priorities for 2010


I am a technology bigot.  I believe technology provides the greatest potential for businesses to boost productivity and save money.

Many companies already look to their IT department for cost cutting measures, and according to a survey conducted by the Society for Information Management, that will only increase.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Changes...they are a coming


An important announcement for readers of the Cup of Joe Blog:
I'm making a few changes to the blog, which will take effect this week. First, the look has changed slightly, which you've probably already noticed. You also may notice the images in each post. These are for scanning purposes and represent the topic covered by that post.

Friday, November 06, 2009

How To: Initiate batch server jobs from a browser


Have you ever wanted to initiate a batch job on your server from a web application? For example, you might want to:
  • send a group of reports via email, or
  • send a group of reports to a network printer, or
  • execute a month-end function, or
  • begin a backup procedure, or
  • start an MRP run.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

5 ways IT wastes money


I believe technology provides the most opportunity for businesses to save money. At the same time, technology can turn into a major budget drain if not managed correctly.

Want to see the most common “budget-drainers”? Here is an interesting video on techrepublic.com, entitled, “5 ways IT is probably wasting money.” While it contains some great points, I want to add one more for consideration: Failure to use the proper tools.

Monday, November 02, 2009

User adoption under 50%?


A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about user adoption and how critical it is to the success of your software. I just saw an insightful survey on CIOInsight.com that really drives this point home.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Los Angeles adopts Google e-mail system


The city of Los Angeles recently decided to use Google’s email system. From what I've seen, the reaction to this news is fairly divided.

Some view this as a mistake. Some view this as a catastrophe waiting to happen. They believe entrusting the data, emails, and information of such a large city is a security risk.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

5 new technologies that will change everything


How will technology change in the next 5 years, and how will it affect you? According to this article on PCWorld.com entitled, “5 new technologies that will change everything,” the future of technology lies in speed, mobility, and instant information.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Easy development made easier


If you haven’t heard yet, we’ve recently overhauled m-Power’s entire browser interface. The new interface simplifies the application development process even further and provides a more intuitive experience for non-developers (and developers alike) who want to create web applications.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Are you proud of the face of your company?


The face of your company is whoever or whatever a potential client encounters first. It could be a person, a website, or a physical store. It creates a positive or negative impression and often makes or breaks a sale. Take this story for example:

Friday, October 23, 2009

10 tech trends to watch in 2010

The technology industry is easily one of the fastest moving industries. New advancements in technology frequently bring new time/money saving opportunities for businesses. However, the IT industry as a whole is slow to adopt many of these new technology trends. Why? I could rattle off a number of reasons, but I think this article in Techrepublic really hits the nail on the head.

That being said, those who stay on top of the ever-changing technology industry have a real chance to better their organizations. But what are the latest up-and-coming tech trends? Gartner offered its opinion on the top tech trends of 2010, which you can find on Datamation.com.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It can do that?

I always thought our Crazybikes demo site was pretty self explanatory until a few weeks ago. I was going over the list of features with our marketing guy for one of our Crazybikes demo applications. At one point he stopped me and said, “Whoa, I didn’t know it could do that.”

Maybe it wasn’t a self explanatory as we thought.

So, we created a little help box on every page listing each feature along with a short description. You might not realize some of the time-saving features built into these web applications, and some might even surprise you. Next time you visit Crazybikes, hover over this image to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Handy tool or ticking time bomb?

If I had a dollar for every time I heard about a problem caused by the overuse of spreadsheets, I could retire early. By “overuse of spreadsheets", I’m referring to tasks that spreadsheets were not meant to handle, such as reporting, business intelligence, shipment schedules, etc…

I know many companies are guilty of this, but I doubt that management at those companies know how much time and effort is wasted on spreadsheets. Here’s something to try: If your company uses spreadsheets extensively and you don’t know how long they take to create and manage, find out. You may be surprised.

I wish that a little wasted time was the worst problem associated with spreadsheet overuse, but it’s not. Read this forum post to learn about more potentially serious problems, as well as a solution.

Friday, October 16, 2009

17 tips to improve productivity

Do you struggle with productivity at work? Here’s a great article on productivity501.com that lists a bunch of tips sent in from many different people.

Here’s a tip taken from the article that I’ve found to be true in my own life: “Focus on three things: diet (including water), exercise, and sleep.” That is so true. It’s a lot easier to be productive when I’m getting good sleep and eating well.

How about you? Do you have any productivity tips to share?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Free modernization whitepaper

This white paper covers the techniques available for bringing your business applications to the web, pitfalls to avoid, and best practices for making long term technology decisions in today’s market.

It even takes a practical look at the steps we took to modernize the character-based mrc-Productivity Series into the Java-based m-Power and a few tips to help you modernize quickly.

You can download the white paper here.>>

Saturday, October 10, 2009

How to create an iPhone app

Want to see your m-Power applications on your iPhone? Turning your m-Power app into an iPhone app is not only possible, but very simple. Better yet, you don’t have to go through Apple’s unpredictable approval process.

All it takes is a little formatting in m-Painter. We’ve written up some instructions and placed them in our forum.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

6 ways to beat job stress

It’s a stressful time in the business world, especially in the IT industry. When you combine the bad economy with outsourcing fears, IT professionals deal with a lot of stress.

If you need some help dealing with your stress, check out this great article on Forbes.com entitled, “Six ways to beat executive job stress.” Not an executive? No worries, the information in this article really applies to anyone dealing with stress.

Have a good stress relief tip? Feel free to share it in the comments section.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Is your great software actually worthless?

User adoption is a funny thing. You may have the best, most cutting-edge software in the world, but if people in your organization don’t use it, it's worthless. Many enterprise software purchases focus on features and functionality, while forgetting the most important aspect of all—user adoption.

I recently spoke with a former insurance company employee. Their IT department rolled out some powerful ad-hoc reporting software that required multiple training classes to understand. To make a long story short, people went back to the old method of requesting reports from the IT department because the software was so complicated.

When it comes to applications that non-IT employees must use, such as ad-hoc reporting applications, ease of use is paramount. For instance, take a look at this ranking report example. While you are there, hover over the (and tell us what you think of our new Crazybikes user guide). Do you think non-IT employees would need a training class to run ad-hoc reports with this?

Want to create reports like this for your users? Let us know and we’ll build you a free proof of concept application.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Five top IT budget killers

I just read an article on CIO.com entitled, “Five Top IT Budget Killers.” The article lists the most common areas that businesses waste money within their IT department. While it was an interesting read, I’ve seen a few others ways that businesses waste money.

For example, many IT organizations waste money purchasing separate software packages for specific tasks, such as shopping carts, business intelligence, order entry, report writing, etc… In other words, they have to pay for, and spend time learning, each individual software package. This becomes even more costly when paying per user or per seat.

How to save: Look for software packages capable of performing a variety of tasks. This is an easy way to save money on licenses, training, and even maintenance costs. If you have any money-saving ideas, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Friday, October 02, 2009

10 BlackBerry apps for the IT professional

I love how quickly the tech industry changes. For example, just a few short years ago, mobile applications were rare. Today, mobile apps are a booming business.

If there's an application you need, chances are, it exists. Wading through all the available apps to find the one you want is a different story entirely. If you're an IT professional looking for apps, here's a nice list of Blackberry applications on Eweek.com.

Have you found a great mobile application specific to the IT industry? Feel free to tell me about it in the comments section.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New interface + 30 minutes = 2 web apps

As any of you who follow this blog may know, we recently released m-Power’s new user interface. It provides a more graphical and intuitive experience, while simplifying the web application development process.

A couple months ago I shared some screenshots of the new interface, but today I have something better. We just created a brand new m-Power test drive area where you can see m-Power for yourself!

Try the m-Power test drive to:

  • Sample m-Power’s new interface
  • Understand why the m-Power build process saves time
  • Build 2 fully functional web applications
Better yet, the whole process will only take about 30 minutes. Get started here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

How to waste money

I noticed something interesting while looking through the survey results posted in last week’s blog. I noticed that many companies claim to have big needs, but don’t fix them because they are too expensive.

Has anyone stopped to calculate the opportunity cost of doing nothing? Doing nothing does cost money, and can cause you to lose out on more money than you might imagine. Don't be "penny-wise and dollar-foolish".

Want some money-saving ideas? Here are 7 ways that real companies solved real problems with web applications and saved money.

Friday, September 25, 2009

17 Notably Bad Products from Great Tech Companies

Timing is everything in the tech industry. If your product is behind the times, no one wants it. If it is ahead of the times, no one understands it.

I thought about this fact while reading an article on Datamation.com entitled, “17 Notably Bad Products from Great Tech Companies.” Interestingly enough, while they failed as products, not all of them were “bad”. In my opinion, #10, #13, and #16 were just ahead of their time.

Out of curiosity, did anyone have any experience with any of these products? I would love to hear about it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Demo app: Google maps + drag-and-drop

We just released a brand new demo with a slick user interface. We combined a drag-and-drop maintenance application with an integrated Google map and gave our fictional bike company, Crazybikes, an order assignment application!

When you drag an order to a different truck, you update the database AND alert the map that it must redraw itself to reflect the most recent changes. While we chose an order assignment application for the demo, this user interface technique could apply to a wide variety of applications, such as:

  • Job Scheduling: Let’s say you’re a manufacturer with many different plants. You could view the current workload for each plant and assign new work orders to the appropriate plants with a single application.
  • Coverage Feature Selection: Let’s pretend you’re an insurance company. You could let customers log into a portal and select their coverage options through a drag-and-drop interface.

Want to see this user interface technique in your business applications? Let us know, and we’ll build you a free proof-of-concept web application.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Survey says . . .

Congratulations to Chuck Ciali, winner of the 2009 mrc netbook giveaway! Thanks to everyone who took our survey and participated in the 2009 mrc giveaway.

Want to see the survey results? We created a tabbed report with m-Power, displaying the results of each question on a pie chart in separate tabs. Click here to view the survey results.

Friday, September 18, 2009

10 best places for technology jobs

While the recession is technically over (according to Mr. Bernanke), recovery is a slow process. Like it or not, some cities will recover faster than others.

So, which cities are best for tech jobs in the near future? Here’s an article on usnews.com which lists the 10 best places for technology jobs in 2009. While much of this list is predictable, a couple cities surprised me.

For example, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Washington D.C. is turning into a hotspot for tech jobs thanks to the government’s increased reliance on technology. How about you? Did any of these cities surprise you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Demo app: Where drag-n-drop meets scheduling

We just created a new order shipment calendar application packed with a couple of time-saving features: Drag-n-drop and hovers. This is just one example. You could create many different types of applications with these features.

At first glance, the application might look like an ordinary shipment calendar, but try this:

  • Drag-and-Drop: Want to move a shipment to another shipping date? Simply drag it and drop it to the appropriate day on the calendar. When you move a shipment to a different date, m-Power auto-magically updates the shipping date in the order data-base. (The only caveat in this particular demo is that we chose to leave out the edit checking allowing you to move shipments into the past. No,we haven’t perfected time travel just yet.)

  • Hover: Want to see details for any shipment? Hover over any shipment and a little box pops up with all the information you need.

That’s one simple order shipment calendar, isn’t it? Imagine all the different applications that could benefit from these features. Want to see this functionality in your business applications? Let us know, and we’ll build you a free proof-of-concept web application.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Last chance to win a netbook

Reminder: mrc’s 2009 netbook giveaway ends this Thursday. If you completed our survey, you are eligible to win. If you haven’t yet completed our survey and want to enter the drawing, you can find the survey here.

The winner will be announced via Twitter this Thursday. Are you following us on Twitter yet? If not, you can follow us here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

10 game changing tech ideas that failed

Thinking back on recent “game-changing” tech ideas, I notice a trend. Most of the game changers weren’t new inventions, but rather improvement on existing concepts. Take the iPod for example: Apple didn’t invent the mp3 player, but they did make the mp3 player better.

I thought about that while reading an interesting article on Techradar.com entitled, “10 game-changing tech ideas that didn't change the game.” Sure, maybe these ideas failed initially, but could any of them succeed with a few improvements? The tablet PC stands out to me as a possibility.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Netbook winner to be announced via Twitter

mrc is now on Twitter! To kick off our Twitter arrival, we are announcing the winner of our 2009 giveaway next Thursday (9/17) via Twitter. If you took our survey, you’re already eligible. If you haven’t, you can take the survey here.

What can followers of @mrcproductivity expect? Well, you won’t hear mundane details, like what I ate for breakfast, or complaints about the weather. Rather, we will provide our followers with value, such as:

  • Helpful industry tips, tricks, news. When we run across interesting information that our followers might enjoy, we’ll post it on Twitter.
  • Another means of communication. Want to ask us a question, shoot us a note, or tell us a witty joke? Twitter is a great way to communicate.
  • Company announcements. We’ll keep you updated on new products, updates, or contests.

Start following us today: twitter.com/mrcproductivity.

Monday, September 07, 2009

A funny story (that really happened)

Our marketing director needed some web applications a while back, so I sat down and gave him a quick 15 minute m-Power tutorial. He picked it up from there, creating and deploying the web applications he needed.

While showing those applications to one of our consultants, the marketing director jokingly mentioned, “We should start up a campaign: So easy, a marketing guy can do it.” Our consultant replied, “No way! No one would ever believe that.”

It was both funny and thought-provoking. Is that so unbelievable? Is it unbelievable that someone with no programming or web application development experience whatsoever now creates web applications faster than a seasoned programmer? On second thought, yeah, I guess so.

Then again, if you don’t believe it, you can always take m-Power for a test drive and see for yourself.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

How to get fired

Are you doing more to hurt your career than you’re doing to help it? If the company is downsizing, certain behaviors turn employees into layoff targets. This article on CIO.com entitled, “How to get fired”, lists 5 such behaviors to avoid.

I’ll add one more, specific to the IT industry: Never create an “IT vs. Non-IT” atmosphere. For example: If an IT professional spends all of their time shooting down requests or ideas, other people in the company get the feeling IT is out to thwart them, rather than help.

If you must reject ideas, try to explain why the idea isn’t feasible and suggest a different solution instead (if possible). Become someone who tries to help, rather than someone who only says “no”.

Friday, September 04, 2009

We've redesigned our web site for you!

You might notice the blog looks a little different today. So does our web site.

Why, you ask? To improve your browsing experience.

You'll find that we simplified the look, cleaned up the organization, improved navigation, and added a much requested solutions section.

We’re happy with the result and believe the new site is much more user friendly. Feel free to check it out for yourself and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

How to bring your business applications to the web

This whitepaper covers techniques available for bringing your business applications to the web. It covers the pros and cons of 4 popular methods, pitfalls to avoid, and modernization best practices.

If your company is thinking about moving your business applications to the web, this is the whitepaper for you. You can read the entire whitepaper here.>>

Monday, August 31, 2009

10 record breaking achievements in tech

There’s a record for everything these days. People do the strangest things just to get in the Guinness Book of World Records. For example, I saw a news story this year about a woman who set a record for living with live scorpions for over a month. My first thought, “Why???”

But what about technology? What technology records are waiting to be broken, or haven’t yet been set? Here’s an interesting article on techradar.com that lists 10 record breaking achievements in tech. Some of them are quite impressive, while a few are very breakable.

Think your company can break any of them, or set a new record? I’d love to hear about it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Modernization with limited resources

Modernization. It sounds like such a daunting task. Just the thought of converting old systems into new, modern systems is enough to make IT executives cringe in fear.

Bimba Manufacturing knew that modernization was a big job, and that their IT staff didn’t have the time or the capabilities to take on a big modernization project. In fact, they even looked into ways to put a “bandaid” on their old solution until more time and resources became available. Then, they discovered m-Power.

m-Power allowed them to modernize their outdated systems with minimal resources while only costing a fraction of what a “bandaid” for their old solution would have cost. All in all, their choice to modernize saved hundreds of thousands of dollars. Find out how.>>

If your company is in the same boat—you don’t think you have the time or resources to modernize--think again. m-Power is a perfect solution for those who need to modernize on a budget or with limited resources. Fill out this short form and tell us about your modernization needs and we’ll tell you how m-Power can help you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The human factor of Business Intelligence

Ordinarily, I talk about the importance of good business intelligence. Up-to-the-second, accurate information is an essential part of the decision making process.

But, good data isn’t the only ingredient in the decision-making process, though many companies these days seem to think so. For example, many companies outsource their customer service department because it looks like a sound financial decision. But, how many customers will they lose as a result of bad service? How many customers will spread negative publicity about them via the internet? How many sales will they lose because of negative publicity?

You see, while that idea looks like a money-saving initiative on paper, it might be a corporate nightmare thanks to factors which can’t initially be measured. So, when making a decision, first make sure it’s based off of real-time data...but don't stop there. Consider all other factors that could affect the outcome before making the decision. You’ll be glad you did.

While I can’t tell you what to do with your business, I can help you see your data clearly. If real-time data is something you need, please fill out this form and tell me about it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

10 stupidest tech company blunders

I recently read an interesting article in PCWorld.com entitled, "The 10 Stupidest Tech Company Blunders.” While it’s easy to sit back and laugh at how dumb these decisions look now, I like to look at lists like this and think, “What mistakes did they make and how can I avoid them?”

In a few of these examples, but most notably the RIAA example, I see a valuable business lesson: When the world changes, don’t fight to keep it the same way—you’ll lose every time. Instead, figure out how to adapt to the change and capitalize on it.

How about you? Do you see any valuable business lessons in all of these mistakes? I'd love to hear them.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New m-Power feature: Web 2.0 Grid Maintenance Template!

Within the last couple months, we introduced a new m-Power template with some powerful features: The Web 2.0 Grid Maintenance Template! This new template allows users to update multiple records at one time.

While it is great for a variety of applications, here are a couple ways the Web 2.0 Grid Maintenance template could be used:

  • eCommerce: Customers using an online shopping cart can make changes to multiple order lines at once instead of editing each one individually.
  • Budgeting applications: Executives working on a budgeting application can change budget numbers quickly and easily.
There are plenty of uses depending your industry and business needs. You can check it out for yourself in our m-Power demo site, Crazybikes.com. It’s a live demo, so feel free to play around with it as much as you like.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

10 business intelligence apps we need to see in 2009

I was checking out an online service (which shall remain nameless) the other day, and signed up for their free trial. My expectations were high after reading user reviews and getting a glimpse of their flashy user interface. Long story short—I was disappointed.

I was disappointed because the interface was their best feature. There was little substance behind all the flash. Now, I have no problem with a nice interface, but I’m a firm believer in building a powerful product first, and then putting a nice interface on top of it…not the other way around.

I was reminded of that story as I read a great article on smartertechnology.com entitled, “10 business intelligence apps we need to see in 2009.” In one point, the author mentions that a good BI tool needs to start from the data and not from the graphics. I couldn’t agree more.

But that's not all, there are plenty of other features to look for when searching for a BI solution. If you want to know more about what to look for in a good BI solution, just fill out this short form. We would be glad to help.

Monday, August 17, 2009

10 great ideas from 5 great bosses

Have you ever noticed how some people succeed despite the obstacles in front of them, while others seem to struggle over the smallest hurdles? The same can be said for many companies as well.

It’s no coincidence. Successful companies (and people) generally have certain habits that contribute to their success. I recently ran across a great little article on Techrepublic.com that lists 10 great ideas for success, taken from 5 great bosses over a 30 year period.

While the article is aimed at managers, many of the tips can be applied to just about everyone. You can read it here.>>

Friday, August 14, 2009

An empowerment riddle, explained

Last week, I posted a riddle that went something like this: What do you get when you combine m-Power’s new ranking report with m-Painter’s new import facility? The answer: An instant executive dashboard!

But, it’s no ordinary executive dashboard. It’s a dashboard instantly generated using criteria specified at run-time. What does that mean? It means that you can generate an executive dashboard displaying the information you want to see at that moment…with just a click of a button.

The best part? That same application can be used to generate an unlimited number of executive dashboards.

Want to see an executive dashboard built over your own files in under 24 hours? Fill out this form to get started.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Google Voice for iPhone to re-emerge as web app

When I first heard about Apple’s blockage of the Google Voice App, I thought, “Why don’t they just make a web app?” As it turns out, according to this article on mashable.com, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

It’s a genius move on Google’s part. Apple can’t very well block a web application without raising some serious eyebrows over at the FCC. Also, a web app is far more flexible than an iPhone app. It’s accessible from any web browser, opening their app up to other phones in the process.

Did you know that you can do the same thing with your business applications? You can turn them into web apps with m-Power and access them on your iPhone, Blackberry, or other smartphone, all while avoiding rigorous application approval procedures. Fill out this short form if you want to know more, or if you want to see a free proof of concept web application.

Monday, August 10, 2009

15 Hot IT Skills: Certified and Non-Certified IT Skills in Demand

Learning a new skill or getting a new certification is often a good idea - bad economy or not. But, not all skills and certifications are created equal. Which ones should you focus on?

Here’s a nice list on Datamation.com which lists Hot IT skills and certifications, as well as certifications that are rising or falling in value. The information is gathered from a survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. and Canadian employers.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The next big security problem

Before computers, we worried about property theft. When the internet became commonplace, it brought in threats like identity theft, viruses, and thieves that can pillage your bank account from the comfort of their own homes.

Now, as smart-phones take over many of the tasks formerly performed on desktop computers, we inch closer to a mobile security problem. More and more sensitive information is stored on smart-phones today, information that could do great damage to a company if that phone is lost/stolen and the data is compromised.

How do you avoid the problem? Instead of storing information on the phone itself, create web applications designed for mobile browsers and place as much security on them as you would a regular web application. Your users can access those web applications from their smart-phones to see the data they need. That way, if a smart-phone is lost, your company data isn’t at risk.

If you need help getting started, we’ve written up a few tips for creating mobile web applications and placed them in our forums.>>

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

An empowerment riddle

What happens when you combine m-Power's new ranking report template with m-Painter's new import facility? Click the question mark to find out. (Hint: The link will lead to a page that looks very similar to the ranking report. Select your filtering criteria, click the "run report" button, and you will see the answer to the riddle).

Ranking report


+ m-Painter Import facility =

Monday, August 03, 2009

20 best blackberry, iPhone apps for summer travel

Smart-phones are revolutionizing the way we travel. Are you lost? Just pull up a map on your phone. Bored on the plane? Chances are there’s something on your phone to keep you occupied. Need to find a restaurant in a new city? Again, check your phone.

If you plan on traveling during the remainder of this summer, there are a few applications that might really come in handy. Here’s a nice list on CIO.com of 20 Blackberry and iPhone apps for summer travel.

Be warned: The more we depend on our phones, the more costly losing one can become, especially in business. Check out this week's blog post entitled, "The next big security problem", for a way around those risks.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Do less with less (but accomplish more)

I just read an interesting article in Infoworld.com, entitled, “Slow IT: Do Less with Less.” It was a very good read, but the title is a bit misleading.

The article is not really focused on doing less so much as it’s focused on working smarter. Sometimes working smarter involves doing less of the menial tasks and more of the business sensitive tasks. It involves finding ways to cut out those things which waste your time, while finding new ways to save time.

Here's a very common example: Many IT departments waste countless hours running ad hoc reports. I’ve known IT professionals who hated their jobs because they were just running ad hoc reports all the time. The solution: Let your users run their own reports and everyone will be happy.

If you’re not quite sure how to let your users run their own reports, or think it would be a long process, we can help. We will show you how to quickly set up reporting solutions for end users like the kind of reports you can find here (or here). Just fill out this short form for more information.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Feature: Google maps integration!

We have recently released a new update which adds Google map integration into m-Power. This enhancement applies to all web application templates in m-Power.

How will this help? There are really many, many ways to use an integrated map in your web apps, but here are a couple that come to mind:

  • If you are a manufacturer, you could create a web app with an integrated map to show potential customers where your products may be purchased.
  • A map could be embedded into an executive dashboard to show which areas are doing well and which are doing poorly.
Feel free to check out a live demo of a web app with Google map integration here.>>

Monday, July 27, 2009

9 hot IT jobs

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you are in the IT industry, you must make an effort to keep your skills up to date - or risk unemployment. I know it’s not easy, but a current skill set will drastically improve your chances of employment when times get tough. Even in the worst economic conditions, there are always certain skill sets that are still in demand.

Want to know what they are right now? Check out this list on CIOinsight.com that lists 9 IT jobs that are currently in high demand.

The one IT job this list is missing is m-Power developer - the job that lets you take advantage of and keep current on changing technologies as they are happening.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The NYPD and their new typewriters

Did you see the news article last week about the NYPD and their new typewriters? Basically, New York is shelling out nearly $1 million to buy new typewriters for their police force. Stories like this only illustrate just how hard it is to change, especially in IT.

Why is change so hard in IT? Besides the whole issue of time and money, I believe the biggest roadblocks to change in IT are the people themselves. “The old way works just fine”, is the refrain I’m sure many an IT professional has heard in their career. Unfortunately, the old way is usually the more expensive way.

I believe that change is necessary, and can be easy if done right. In fact, if anyone from the NYPD is reading this, we can create web applications for you in one month that will completely eliminate the need for typewriters. Give us a call and we’ll get started.

If your company is hanging onto old technology, I would like to show you just how easy change can be. Just fill out this short form and let us know what old technology your company is holding onto.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Better Business Intelligence is now available

As I promised in a post a couple of weeks ago, the new ranking report template is now available to m-Power customers. Just log into the customer portal and download the latest update.

This new ranking report template allows you to run reports with variable rankings while specifying selection criteria at run-time. Check out the live demo area to learn more about its functionality.

You may be surprised to hear that the demo area you just viewed was created in under 5 minutes. Don’t believe me? I’ve written up a step-by-step walkthrough of the build process complete with screenshots, which can be found in our forums.

Monday, July 20, 2009

10 dirty little secrets you should know about working in IT

I heard an unintentionally hilarious commercial on the radio the other day. I won’t try to quote it word for word, but it went something like this: Tired of poor job security and low pay? Take our 6 month training class and you will become a Microsoft certified IT professional. You will be an indispensible employee with great job security and a high salary.

I had to laugh. In 6 months I could have great job security and a high salary? Sign me up! That certainly sounds great, but I’m afraid it’s far from accurate. In fact, this Techrepublic.com article entitled, “10 dirty little secrets you should know about working in IT” probably describes the industry a little better.

What do you think? Who described the IT industry better: The commercial or the article?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Increasing efficiency in the enterprise

There is no excuse for inefficiency in the enterprise these days. Never before have we had so many tools at our disposable aimed at making us more efficient. And it will only become more important in the coming years.

According to this article in Forbes.com, efficiency will be the theme of the next decade. IT departments will be tasked with making all aspects of the enterprise more efficient in the next few years, but it won't be easy. According to the author, they will run into a few distinct problems ranging from old data to inefficient application development.

If you want to develop applications more efficiently, m-Power will help. Just fill out this short form and let us know what you have on your plate, and we’ll show you how m-Power will make you more efficient.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sneak peek: New m-Power UI

We have some great new m-Power features coming in the near future that I’m really excited about. I can’t contain my excitement any longer for one in particular: m-Power is getting a new interface!

The new UI will not only look better, but will make it even easier to create web applications. We’ve improved the navigation in a few different ways, upgraded search-ability, added links to resources, and much more.

While I don’t have a demo area to show you, I do have a screenshot if you want to see the future user interface for m-Power. I’ve added the descriptions and the arrows, so don’t think that they are part of the interface. You can see the screenshot here.>>

If you want to see just the screenshot with no descriptions, click here.>>

Monday, July 13, 2009

Celebrating 20 years of the world wide web

About 8 months ago, our communication company’s central box went down and much of the area (us included) lost internet service for a couple days. It was difficult to work and made me realize just how much we (and businesses as a whole) rely on the internet.

I was reminded of that story as I was reading an article on techradar.com entitled, “Celebrating 20 years of the world wide web.” The article takes a look back from the beginning of the world wide web until now, and covers the steps taken to get where we are today.

It’s funny to think how just 20 years ago the internet had no place in the business, and now you probably couldn’t even function without it. It kind of makes me wonder what we’ll be remembering fondly 20 years from now.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Don't be a turtle

I've noticed many companies acting like turtles recently. What do I mean by that? When a turtle is scared, they retract into their shells. They shut themselves off to the outside world in hopes that the threat will go away.

It seems as though many companies are doing the same thing. They are hiding and waiting for the economy to get better. While that may be a good strategy for a turtle, it’s not for a business.

This is no time to hide and wait. This is the time to move ahead while everyone else is waiting. Look outside your comfort zone for new ways to help your business. Identify your key weaknesses and try to turn them into advantages. Sure, it might cost a little up front, but you’ll be far better off in the long run.

Take this company for example. Instead of hiding and waiting, they used new technology to turn a big weakness into an area of strength. Not only are they a stronger company because of it, but they opened up a new revenue stream as well.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Business Intelligence just got better

I’d like to give you a quick preview of a new template we have coming for m-Power that I’m pretty excited about. Basically, this new template lets you write ranking reports - on steroids.

You will be able to create a report that does variable rankings, across multiple dimensions, while specifying whatever selection criteria you want at run-time. That sounds like a mouthful, but it all makes sense when you check it out here.

Imagine the possibilities! In mere seconds, you can run a report detailing your best (or worst) selling products, salespeople, regions, etc… It’s instant information available to end users in an easy to use format.

The best part: It’s really easy to make. In fact, we made the demo in about 5 minutes. If you don’t believe that, we’ll be happy to walk you through the process.

This new feature will be available in the very near future, so stay tuned!

Monday, July 06, 2009

13 coming mobile technologies that will change your life

Do you remember back in the dark ages when cell phones were used only for phone calls? We couldn't check our email or even send text messages. How did we ever survive?

It’s funny to think how far cell phone technology has progressed over the last 10 years. Cell phones have gone from being a luxury to a necessity, in both personal and business life. Can you imagine what you would do if you couldn’t check your email or view vital business data from your smartphone these days?

While it’s interesting to look back, I like to look forward to where mobile technology is going and how it might affect the business world. Here’s an article in Computerworld that examines this very topic and details 13 future mobile technologies that will be important.

Friday, July 03, 2009

m-Power enhanced to increase productivity

We’ve recently rolled out some new enhancements to m-Power, and I’m pretty excited about them.

For instance, applications can now be imported directly into one another through m-Painter. What does that mean to you? Well, applications that contain other applications are much easier to develop. For example, creating an executive dashboard is easier than ever!

But that's not all. There are a few more new enhancements to m-Power that you should know about. Check out our latest press release to learn more about them!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

10 ways IT wastes money on development

Throughout my years in this industry, I have seen countless examples of inefficiencies and waste in IT. While the causes may vary, wasted money is often the direct result of a failed attempt to save money.

For example, many companies decide to outsource development projects without realizing there are always hidden fees and expenses that aren't initially obvious. Unfortunately, the true cost is often discovered only when it’s too late to change directions.

Also, many managers are “Penny wise, pound foolish.” For example, pretend you owned a construction company, and in order to save money you didn’t buy any power tools for your workers. Your attempt to “save money” would produce the opposite effect. In the same way, many companies try to “save money” and not purchase tools to help their developers work more efficiently.

These are just a couple of points made in this Techrepublic.com article entitled, “10 ways IT wastes money on development.” It’s a great read and I highly recommend it for anyone involved in development. It's important to regularly analyze your development process and eliminate any waste, especially in a bad economy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The worst US cities to work in IT

A few weeks back, I posted a link to an article listing the best places to work if you’re in the IT industry. I recently ran across an article on CIO.com that lists the exact opposite: “The worst U.S. cities to work in IT.”

I don’t think it’s as bad as they (or their depressing picture selection) make it out to be, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Do you work in one of these cities, and if so, what do you think of it?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Modernization in a bad economy

Should we modernize or stick with what we’ve got until the economy recovers? I know that question has been asked by many companies these days. What are the advantages and disadvantages of both?

I recently read a study by Aberdeen which examines the modernization methods used by best-in-class organizations. According to the study, companies that take the right approach to modernization see substantial cost savings and performance improvements over companies that stick with the status quo.

What is the best approach to legacy modernization? The study finds that a tools-based approach to modernization combined with well planned processes leads to the greatest success.

Those findings certainly fall in line with what I’ve seen over the years. Take this company for example. Their tools-based approach to modernization resulted in 6-figure savings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Overview of CSS3

I’ve been following the latest CSS3 developments for a while now, and must say that I’m pretty excited about what it can do for web applications. CSS3 adds much more functionality while including many time-saving features.

In case you haven’t heard about all the great new features of CSS3 yet, I just read an article in smashingmagazine.com that lists and describes 13 of the best features. You can find the entire article here.>>

Monday, June 22, 2009

100 best places to work in IT 2009

In a bad economy, top IT talent is more important than ever. The good news (at least for companies) is that there is plenty of great IT talent available right now. So, if your company has trouble attracting great talent, you need to ask: “Why?”

How do you attract the best talent? Take a lesson from these companies: Computerworld recently published their “100 best places to work in IT 2009.” Not only do they explain why each company made the list, but they list a few ways your company can attract and retain highly skilled IT workers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Build-A-Web-App Workshop

Creating powerful enterprise-level Web applications doesn't have to be complicated.

Here, you can create a custom, live, lightning-fast, portable and flexible database-driven Web application in just a few minutes with your current skill set.

Enter our Build-A-Web-App Workshop»

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How To: Build better, faster web apps with CSS sprites

Have you ever noticed how images on some websites flicker when you hover over them? It’s like the image disappears for a split second before the hover image is displayed. That happens because the hover state of the image isn’t loaded into the browser cache until you hover over it.

You can fix this problem when you use CSS sprites in place of the typical methods for creating rollover buttons. We’ve written up a brief tutorial on CSS sprites which can be found in our forums.

Monday, June 15, 2009

15 nifty Blackberry apps for IT pros

The good people at CIO.com have posted another list of Blackberry apps, but this time they’re aimed at the IT professional. Unfortunately, not all of the apps in this list are free.

However, there are some pretty useful apps in there, so I’d recommend you check it out if you’re a Blackberry owner and an IT professional. Click here to see the list>>.

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's funny in real life, but not in business

If you asked me and my wife to describe the same event, our descriptions would be so different you might not be able to tell we were even talking about the same thing. It’s not that either of us is dishonest, we just notice different things.

The same thing can happen with business data and reports. If two people are asked to create reports on similar data, the results may be anything but similar. They might emphasize different points, or even use different formats in their reports.

Here’s a company that was dealing with this exact problem, only multiplied by 9. They had 9 separate plants, running on 9 separate databases, with 9 separate managers, who had 9 separate ways of doing things. Comparing business data across the plants was like comparing apples to…mangos.

They managed to fix their problems by creating a web-based executive dashboard, even though no one on staff had experience with web application development. Find out what they did>>.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The future of computing

What is the future of computing? According to Google, it’s web-based applications. At their recent I/O convention, Google showed off a few new features of HTML 5, and explained how web applications will be able to take advantage of these features.

Personally, I think Google is spot on. Web-based apps offer multiple advantages over standalone apps, but I think it all comes down to instant information. Web-based apps can be accessed from anywhere at anytime, allowing businesses to operate faster and more efficiently than ever before.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Companies that operate at anything less than real-time are at an extreme disadvantage in this day and age.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Top 10 industry-changing applications

When you look back at the history of computer applications, what stands out to you? Which applications truly affected the way you worked, or even lived?

Once you’ve thought of a few, check out this article on itnews.com, which lists the top 10 industry-changing computer applications. It’s an interesting read, and I think they did a good job overall—most everything on that list is in fact, industry-changing.

I’m sure many may disagree with the list, and I’m curious to hear why. What would you change about this list, and why?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Failure and what you can learn from it

When it comes to failure, there are two types of people in this world: People who learn from their failures and people who won’t admit they have failed. Everybody fails at one point or another, but only some learn from their mistakes. Here’s a great article in CIO.com details real stories of IT failure, and the lessons learned from them.

This reminds me of a manufacturing company we worked with in the past. They had poured over a million dollars into creating a web-based order entry system, only to find the project half done after 2 years. They realized that they needed to do something different, and soon hired an m-Power consultant. Ten weeks later, the project was finished.

This situation turned out well, but can you imagine what would have happened if they had stubbornly pushed forward on that project? It would’ve been a disaster.

Are you stuck in a project that is taking longer and costing more than expected? Maybe we can help. Let us know a little about the lemons you have on your plate, and we’ll show you how to turn them into lemonade.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Modernization: Which language is best?

Anyone considering modernization must decide which programming language to modernize with. I've heard arguments for nearly every language, but I still believe Java is the most powerful and best suited for enterprise application development.

To learn more, including the advantages of modernizing with Java, I encourage you to check out this short presentation.

Monday, June 01, 2009

6 game-changing features of Google Wave

I’m very intrigued by the announcement of Google Wave. Specifically, I’m intrigued by new applications that can increase productivity and save time (and integrate with m-Power). From the looks of things, Google Wave does all of the above.

If you want to know more, check out this informative article on Mashable.com entitled, “The Top 6 Game-Changing Features of Google Wave.”

Friday, May 29, 2009

IT gets ready for the recovery

Amid all the budget cutting and economic turmoil, it’s important to still plan for when the economy turns around. In other words, if you must cut back, do so in such a way that you will be in good position for an increase in business when the economy recovers.

Need some ideas? This article in Computerworld.com looks at a few different ways that IT can cut-back while simultaneously prepping for future growth. Or, maybe you can learn something from this company, who used new technology to both fight the current economic problems and prepare for the future.

Could you use some additional ways to save money? Check out our short presentation entitled, “7 ways to save money with web applications”.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Modernization in 5 practical steps

This white paper details 5 steps you should take when modernizing your legacy applications. It even takes a practical look at the steps we took to modernize the character-based mrc-Productivity Series into the Java-based m-Power, why we chose Java over .Net, and a few tips to help you modernize quickly.

You can read the white paper here.>>

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