Thursday, September 30, 2010

19 gadgets that changed the world

Have you ever stopped to think just how differently we operate today compared to 10 or even 20 years ago? Newer and more advanced gadgets have made us more efficient (and sometimes lazier) than ever before. Which gadgets have changed our lives the most? recently published a list of “19 gadgets that changed the world” that provides a listing of the most important gadgets and how they affected our lives.

While gadgets are often considered to be consumer-oriented, they play a huge role in the business world as well. The rise of laptops and smart phones have driven two very important business trends: Mobility and real-time data. These days, business data must be accessible from anywhere at any time. Over the next few years, these trends will only advance. Companies who don’t keep up with these two trends will be at a serious disadvantage.

If your company doesn’t operate in real-time or doesn’t have the ability to access data from anywhere via the web, we can help. Fill out this short form to get started.

Monday, September 27, 2010

4 ways you’re probably wasting money with Excel

As I mentioned a while back in a blog post entitled, "Why do 80% of spreadsheets contain errors," spreadsheet errors collectively cost businesses $11.5 billion dollars. That sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?

It gets worse.

As it turns out, errors aren’t the only aspects of spreadsheets that waste money. In fact, if your company relies heavily on spreadsheets, you’re probably wasting money in a few different ways. How much money?  Probably a lot more than you think.  To learn exactly how spreadsheets waste money for a company, check out this post in our forum.

Friday, September 24, 2010

10 ways to better control costs

Cost cutting is a tricky game. As a leader, you need to find ways to cut costs while not hurting employee productivity or your company’s revenue. Finding places to cut that don’t negatively impact either of those two areas isn’t an easy task.

I recently ran across a nice article/slideshow in with some very good ideas for better controlling costs. Even better yet, most don’t hurt productivity or revenue.

While I like most of the ideas in the article, #9 really stuck out to me because I think it addresses a common problem. Many companies buy solutions for one specific need. After 5 years or so, they have many single-use solutions. Isn’t it smarter to buy one solution that solves many needs?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

IT Hall Of Shame, Part 2

InformationWeek recently published a follow-up to their popular "IT Hall of Shame" article, with another article: IT Hall of Shame, Part 2. This article lists some of the biggest flops and errors ever to grace the IT industry.

While these articles are interesting, they provide us with opportunities to learn from other people’s mistakes. When I see articles like this, I think, “What did they do wrong, and how can I avoid it?” Mistakes at these levels aren’t minor…they often cost millions of dollars.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Five essential elements every Business Intelligence solution should include

Business intelligence is a confusing subject. Generally speaking, when a company realizes they need business intelligence (BI), they aren’t clear on everything a BI solution should include. Why not? BI isn’t the same across the board. As a result, comparing BI solutions is like comparing apples and oranges. Each solution contains different elements.

So, how do you know which elements to look for in a BI solution? I think a few elements are pretty standard, like simple ad-hoc reporting, the ability to use multiple databases, and exporting data to Excel and PDF. Besides these basic elements, I’ve put together a brief list of 5 essential elements that every good BI solution should include:

Friday, September 17, 2010

10+ ways to be more productive

I recently spoke with someone who used to be a corn and soybean farmer (before he got into IT, strangely enough). Anyway, he mentioned something that I didn’t know: Tractors are incredibly expensive. I knew they were expensive, but I didn’t realize they were quarter-of-a-million expensive.

Yet, you don’t see farmers out in the field farming by hand. Why not? Because they realize that even with the high cost, tractors are infinitely more productive than the alternative. They can make far more money with a tractor than without one.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The worst software bugs in history

“Sometimes it pays to stay in bed on Monday, rather than spending the rest of the week debugging Monday's code.” --Dan Salomon

Anyone who has ever worked in IT knows the pain of debugging, and is probably nodding in agreement to that quote. Debugging is often more time consuming than writing the code itself. Yet, even after all the time spent looking for and removing bugs, a few manage to slip by.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crash course in modernization

Modernization is a confusing subject. Many companies realize the need for modernization, but they don’t understand the process. They don’t realize that different vendors sell different forms of modernization. They don’t realize just how greatly these modernization methods differ.

Here is one of the most important rules of modernization: There is much more to modernization than an end result that looks modern. Figuring out how each method differs and which method fits your needs is a crucial step in a successful modernization project.

We’ve put together a whitepaper entitled, "Crash course in modernization." It will help you better understand modernization and explain which modernization method is best for your company. You can find it in our whitepaper library.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How to survive and thrive during a downturn

I’d like to share a story about two very similar companies in the same line of business. When the economy struggled last year, one company cut back and laid off workers. The other company started a new service that helps people who have upside-down mortgages. Which do you think is doing better right now?

I realize that this example doesn’t apply to every company, but I mention it to make a point: When the economy shifts, opportunities shift as well. Many businesses tend to take a very defensive approach to economic problems. They cut back, cover their heads, and wait for the problems to blow over.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Will the cloud shrink IT departments?

Will IT departments grow or shrink over the next 5 years? According to a panel of CIOs in the UK, IT departments will shrink substantially over the next 5 years, due in large part to the rise of cloud computing.

I’m not so sure. I do understand their reasoning, but I’ve noticed over the years that as new technologies crop up, new opportunities and needs arise. While cloud computing may eliminate some jobs, other advancements will most likely create new jobs.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Critical questions to ask before buying a report writer

Report writers are pretty easy to understand, aren’t they? If your company stores data in a database (as most companies do), you need reports. To create all these fancy reports, you need a report writer.

However, beyond the basic features like exporting to Excel and creating pretty graphs, you’ll find that report writers vary in capabilities. While they may all address the same problem (your need for data), each one offers different features. Figuring out what’s best for your company can be difficult if you’re unfamiliar with essential report-writing capabilities.

Before you buy a report writer, I’d like to share a few important questions to ask:

Friday, September 03, 2010

10 unusual ways to cut costs in the office

Saving money around the office is a tricky topic because saving money often results in lower morale. In order to save money, managers often remove employee perks and other items that employees enjoyed.

For example, I know of one company that stopped buying donuts for the weekly staff meetings in order to save money. Another company removed tea and hot cocoa from their lunch room. Are these savings enough to offset the decreased employee morale? It’s debatable.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

8 must-see TED talks for IT pros

The TED Talks videos have gained popularity over the last few years, probably due in large part to their recent availability online. For those unfamiliar with TED (Technology Entertainment and Design), it is a group of conferences formed to disseminate “ideas worth spreading.” They share many of the conference’s presentations in the form of freely available TED Talks videos.

Currently, over 700 of these videos are available online, covering a wide variety of topics. If you’re interested in topics pertaining to technology, Computerworld just published an article entitled, "8 must-see TED talks for IT pros." It lists 8 of the most intriguing tech-related TED presentations and, I have to say, they really picked some good ones.

All in all, there are some pretty thought-provoking presentations in there which provide some interesting insight into the future of computing.

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