Friday, October 29, 2010

Say goodbye to mail merges

I remember when printing labels for mailing required typewriters. It was quite a chore. Then, along came MS office and the mail merge, which simplified the job but still required a bit of work. You still had to get your list together, clean it up and format it in excel, and then mail merge it into a Word doc.

I’d like to highlight another project in our m-Power Project Exchange that simplifies your mailing label duties: The 3-Up Label Template. Basically, it pulls the addresses you need from your database and automatically puts them in a 3-Up Label format (PDF), all ready to print. No more finding, formatting, and setting up a mail merge. Just set up the template and print away!

You can find this and other free templates in the m-Power Project Exchange. If you want to learn more about m-Power, check out this demo video.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

10 jobs wrecked by tech

I frequently write about tech trends, and the importance of keeping up with technology. Why? First, I believe tech holds some of the best ways to increase productivity and save money. Second, if you don’t keep up with tech and adapt as technology changes, your company will find itself at a huge disadvantage.

This article entitled "10 Jobs Wrecked by Tech," provides real-life examples of jobs/industries being eliminated by technology. It’s a good reminder of how quickly technology evolves and the importance of keeping current.

Also, this makes me think: What jobs might make this list in 5 years? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Building and using Pivot Tables (explained via video)

Pivot tables are great analytical tools—they sum up large amounts of data and let you view it in just about any way possible. More importantly, they help you quickly analyze business information, discover trends, and make better and more informed decisions.

Pivot tables are typically found in spreadsheet software, such as Excel. Spreadsheet-based pivot tables are great as single-user tools, but you run into problems if you want to distribute, share, or let multiple users alter or view one spreadsheet. Also, if security or data accuracy are necessities, spreadsheet-based pivot tables aren’t ideal.

If you’ve ever run into any of these issues with pivot tables, you should really check out our web-based pivot table. It combines the power of pivot tables with the advantages of database-driven web applications. Also, if you want to learn more about the web-based pivot table, this short video explains a few of the features.

This application was built with m-Power. If you want to build a couple of similar web applications in about a half hour, you should try our free m-Power Test Drive.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Software vendors and the maintenance scam

I have a great money-saving tip for you: Don’t fall for the maintenance scam. Let me explain: When you buy enterprise software, you pay a yearly maintenance fee. The vendor uses this fee to provide top-notch customer support and improve the product for their customers. When these fees are used correctly, it helps the customer: They receive great support and a constantly improving product.

But, not every vendor uses these funds appropriately. While they do provide customer support, many fail to improve the product. Instead, they take those maintenance fees from their customers and use them to build new products and upgrades.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

9 things you need to stop doing to improve your productivity

Sometimes, eliminating tasks is the best way to increase productivity. I’m not talking about the really obvious time-wasters, like spending all day making personal calls or taking 10 coffee breaks. I’m talking about the activities that you think you should be doing that are actually hurting your productivity.

What types of activities? I just ran across this great article entitled, "The Not-Do List: 9 Things You Need To Stop Doing," which lists many great ways to improve productivity by eliminating some not-so-obvious unproductive tasks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How to build a secure extranet in one day

An extranet is an extremely useful resource for many companies. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is a computer network that allows controlled access from outside the company. For example, here are a few ways extranets are used:

1. Extranets can be set up for customers to log in and view important data.
2. Extranets can be set up for employees to log in outside the office. For example, your sales force could log in to the extranet and view their sales numbers.
3. Extranets can be set up for distributors to log in and view orders, purchase more products, and view new products. Here's an example of an extranet set up for distributors.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Add some “flash” to your reports

I’d like to highlight a cool template in our Project Exchange: The Fusion Charts template! This template lets you build applications with animated and interactive Flash charts. Feel free to check out the demo. You’ll notice that you can choose between a few different graphs on the report prompt page.

The best part: While the Fusion Charts give your applications a sleek and polished look, creating them is just as easy as any other application in m-Power. Simply download the project and use the template as normal.

This template is free of charge and for m-Power users only. If you would like to learn more about m-Power, please visit our product page.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

5 significant trends to watch in 2011

Trends come. Trends go.  Some stick around and others pass just as quickly as they came. Often tech advancements and trends create new ways to save money or improve efficiency.

That being said, I’d like to share an important lesson about tech trends: Don’t be swayed by the hype. Don’t jump on a new trend just because everyone is jumping on that trend. If you follow a trend without first figuring out how it will help your company, you’ll waste time and money.

Monday, October 11, 2010

3 ways to improve application efficiency

Last month, Google announced Google Instant, which automatically pulls up search results as you’re typing. They claim Google Instant will save about 2-5 seconds per search. Doesn’t seem like much? It equates to roughly 350 million hours of saved time per year.

One small efficiency improvement, when spread over many users, can lead to massive time savings. The same is true for your business applications. How much time would your company save if your business applications were more efficient? Probably much more than you think.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Executive dashboards made simple (and interactive)

If you need or have executive dashboards, you are going to love a couple of our latest enhancements. In short, they make dashboards great!

In our latest batch of enhancements, we’ve improved the m-Painter import panel and added a new widget panel. How does this affect executive dashboards? Here are a few ways:

Dashboards are now easier to create. The import panel provides a wizard-like approach to importing apps and creating dashboards.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

20 great productivity apps for iPhone, Android

One of the best things about the rise of smartphones and app markets: If you can think of an app, it probably exists. Unfortunately, finding apps isn’t always so easy unless you know the application’s name.

I recently ran across a couple of nice app lists that might appeal especially to the “on-the-go” business person. They list 20 of the best productivity apps for both the iPhone and the Android platform. Of course, if you’ve found another productivity app that you love, feel free to share it in the comments.

Monday, October 04, 2010

How to reduce the risks of modernization

We recently published a couple of educational white papers which aim to reduce risk for companies beginning modernization projects.

The white papers address a common problem: While many companies recognize the need for modernization, few completely understand their options, the hidden risks, and the steps involved. An uninformed company heading into a new modernization project stands to risk significant sums of time and money.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Visualize Key Performance Indicators with a heat table

A while back, I wrote up a blog post introducing the new m-Power Project Exchange.   In short, the project exchange is like an app store, but for m-Power. It’s a place for m-Power users to share templates, user defined functions (UDFs), and external objects with other m-Power users.

We’ve had some nice additions to the project exchange, some which could really help all sorts of companies. For example, this template lets you visualize key performance indicators (KPI) with a heat table.

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