Sunday, December 30, 2012

Predictions for 2013

We are looking forward to the new year are you?
In spite of being a technical professional and owning and operating my own software company, I still can't do my own car repairs.  This gives me an opportunity to spend some time at the local car repair shop talking with other people who can't fix their cars.  The conversations inevitably turn to our careers and when others find out that I run a technology company they ask what they can expect from the world of tech.  I tell them that my opinions are not gospel but that I have a pretty good idea about what is coming up in the immediate future.  This week in the spirit of looking forward to the New Year, I want to make some predictions.  Hopefully, I will not look too foolish when some of my predictions don't come true.

In 2012 there were two major trends which could not be ignored; first, the rise of mobile computing and finally the ascent of the cloud as a computing platform.  When I first discussed the subject in earnest back in December 2011, I was looking at a trend that was just starting to grow.  Now you cannot go anywhere without hearing the term cloud.  People have even started developing myths about cloud based computing.  For 2013, I continue to see this trend grow and it is a perfect opportunity for a firm like mine to help small and medium sized businesses learn to compete with the big boys. 

Next the line between mobile computing and desktop computing is blurring.  This has driven all sorts of changes in 2012.  More and more of us get our information over phones and table devices so web developers, technologists, and even CIO's and learning if they are going to survive they will have to adapt to this mobile world.  Again, this major trend in the industry finds this firm perfectly positioned to deal with the situation.  Our applications have to work on computers, smart phones, and tablets otherwise we are doing a disservice to our customer.  I also feel that young people are even more comfortable with mobile technology than current business leaders so if we are going to tap this customer market we are going to have to build software they are going to use.  Microsoft with Windows 8 is a huge gamble on this front and while the news wasn't good early going I think they are perfectly positioned for a renaissance in the coming year.

Here are some other predictions that I think might take place in the New Year. 
  • Cash is not going away:  We have all seen the articles about how debit cards, NCF, and Google Wallet are going to make cash obsolete.  Don't count on it.  We are going to need cash for night clubbing, casinos, children's lemonade stands, and groceries.  Cash will become less important but it will not become obsolete. 
  • Agile will continue to grow in the startup community and face obstacles in established businesses:  I am running into this problem now in my day job.  It is clear that business leaders for large firms are frightened by the cultural changes and organizational changes necessary to make Agile work so it will take startups and big dogs like Facebook, Google and IBM to show them how it is done.  Until a company fully embraces Agile and starts squashing the competition there will be a deep reluctance on the part of other large firms.  Then it will be up to us to deal with the copy cats.
  • QR Codes and MS Tag will find a home- in logistics and manufacturing:  QR codes and Microsoft tag came from manufacturing and they will return to their roots because marketing firms have been horrible at using these technologies.  I am pretty proud that we are leading this trend.
  • E3 systems will be expanding our focus:  We will continue to support and market our Sully 2.0 software but we are branching out with other software offerings.  We are also going to start providing Business Solutions Architecture for small and medium sized businesses.   I am going to talk more about Business Solutions Architecture in our next blog. 
  • Finally, E3 systems will continue to be a partner in the Agile Community on Google+ and a member of the Microsoft Application Lifecycle Management community:  We learn so much from these groups and in exchange it is nice to share my wisdom with them so we will have a continuing partnership with them.  

This last year has not turned out like we expected.  However, I am deeply grateful for the experiences and support we have received from the community.  I hope that 2013 is a breakthrough year for us and that you will be along to share it with us. 

Until next time.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmass Wish to You

The holidays are always a weird and frantic jumble.  Between parties, shopping and networking with business people who do not want to do business until after the holiday it can get a little dispiriting.  Still, I have a lot of optimism about what happened during the 2012 and I look forward to 2013 as a very productive year.

In 2012, we had the release and marketing of the Sully 2.0 system.  We are also working on a new project called Andre which we will give you more details in the coming year.  I am proud to say that we are starting to behave like a modern business with a bids and contracts going out.  As a friend of mine says, "small steps complete the journey." 

I want to take time out to say thank you for your business and attention.  We look forward to a prosperous 2013. 

Until Next time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why We Believe in Agile

Agile, is swift, strong and a little sexy.
I spend my days toiling in an anonymous cubical at a large company during the day while by night and on weekends I toil for my own start up.  It is thankless work.  I do it because I believe that there is a better way to run a business and serve customers.  I do it because I believe in agile and its principles for the modern business.  This week I want to talk about agile and why I believe in it so strongly.

When Frederick P. Brooks wrote, The Mythical Man-Month back in 1975, he was talking about what it took to write the OS/360 computer system.  When I picked up a copy of the second addition in 2009 many of the problems that Brookes wrote about were oddly familiar.  Projects run out of control.  Communications becomes a huge challenge and project managers who treat people like machines stumble across the Brooke's Law which states, "Adding man power to late project makes it later."

Except for being able to smoke in the office and the use of punch cards, many of the sad realities Brooks observed in software development then are still happening today.  Projects are flying wildly out of control.  Customers are not satisfied with what is being delivered and millions of dollars are being squandered needlessly.  This is why I was so attracted to the Agile Manifesto and Scrum.  With Agile a developer was judged on working software instead of how much documentation they wrote.  Being able to adapt to change was more important than following plans.  Finally, the people building the software had some say in what they were doing in and how they were doing it instead of having it dictated from above.  It was liberating and when I got the hang of it I was an eager convert. 

Still, I have discovered that Agile even though it has been around for over 10 years is still considered a fad in some business circles.  I discovered why when I read Len Lagestee's inspired blog: 5 Must Ask Questions for Leaders.  Organizations, especially large organizations, may not have the correct workforce and be unwilling to trust their employees completely with the changes which are necessary.  Finally, business leaders who model themselves after Donald Rumsfeld won't understand the quantum shift necessary to switch from command and control to servant leadership.  I live that reality each day in my day job.

I know there is something better out here.  I know that a company can be nimble responsive to client needs and treat its community with respect and dignity.  I know that Microsoft tools can build fantastic business applications for the cloud.  I also know there is money to be made in the unglamorous world of infrastructure and logistics.  This is what drives me.  Business for too long has been more concerned with its own power and influence instead of what really matters which are the customers and the community they serve.  This is why I am a believer in Agile because I feel like it can not only build a better piece of software but it can also create a better business. 

Find out what I am talking about by contacting us. 

It is time that business starts acting like it is in the 21st century instead of the 19th.  I hope my little startup is part of a trend which will make that a reality. 

Until next time.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Google Makes Another Smart Business Move.

The Cloud and Google are about making
money on the web and this is a good thing
Things happen for a reason in business.  This week is a classic illustration of that maxim.  Google announced that they were going to start charging for its online application suite which includes Google docs and Google drive.  This does not surprise me and I want to take some time out and explain why.

Many people outside the technology industry wonder how companies make any money building web sites and providing services.  During the first dot com boom, it was a simple strategy.  Generate lots of web traffic and buzz.  When that happens sell advertising to clients who are paying for those eyeballs.  It was a great strategy but it burned through millions of dollars of venture capital.  It also created spectacular failures like Pets.com; which generated loads of attention but lost eighty cents for each bag of dog food it sold online.  I still keep a few trinkets from the company to remind me how not to run a business.

More recently companies like Groupon have done a similar dance with death.  They have lots of attention but in doing so they have not figured out a means to make money with all that attention.  With the advent of cloud based computing and companies like E3 systems, we have turned to a different model for making money.  It is a subscription model.  Servers, technical professionals, and infrastructure cost money and in order to pay for it we charge a low monthly subscription.  Google does the same with their Ad words product and the numerous numbers of services they provide.  Now they are treating Google docs just like any of the other for-fee services they provide. 

Being a Microsoft partisan, I still think that Office and Office 365 are superior products to Google Docs.  However, if you are a business person who is struggling to pay for licenses from Microsoft then Google Docs is a good option.  What Google is doing is keeping their product in line with the Microsoft and providing another stream of revenue. 

I am not surprised by this.  Google became the 600 pound gorilla of the web by providing and fantastic search engine and charging customers using the old model of revenue during the glory days of the dot com bubble.  Then something changed.  They started diversifying with their Android mobile phone system.  The Chrome browser is now an accepted standard on the web and they have made tentative steps into social media with Google plus.  What this creates another means to generate revenue and sell advertising.  Google Apps are different because there was no really good means to sell advertising.  So they could give the product away as a means to destroy Microsoft or they could charge a nominal fee and increase their profits.  If I am Larry Page, I know what I would choose and that would be more money for my organization. 

So what you are seeing is business people using the web in a much more sane fashion than during the dot com days.  Gone are the lavish parties and millions of dollars in corporate losses replaced with slow and boring revenue growth as more people use the web as the backbone of their business.  As someone who owns his own business and is following that model, I think this is a positive development. 

Drop us a line and find out about us.

Until next time.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Use Technology to Help Your Business

You might need some technology
Elves this season.
We are in the middle of the holiday season and this is the time many businesses rush to meet their sales goals or take stock of the year.  At E3 systems it is a chance to take stock.  We are prospecting for customers, doing market research, and keeping people up to date via social media.  I am confident that when the New Year arrives we will be in a good place to grow our business.

This week I noticed an interesting article from Farhad Manjoo about how retailers deal with the crush of customers which come out during the weekend after thanksgiving.  The interesting part about the article is that more traditional retailers appear to struggle compared with more technology oriented retailers like Amazon.com.  After reading the article, it is clear to me that the reason for the success of technology firms is that they focus on the management of their business from the most fundamental levels while more traditional ones struggle to adapt more modern ways of customer satisfaction.

So as you attempt to better serve your customers, wouldn't it be nice if you had tools to answer simple customer questions.  This is why cloud based Business Intelligence platforms like our Sully 2.0 system should be something you should investigate.  Being able to see inventory via a tablet computer, laptop, PC or smart phone would be a huge advantage over competitors.  Having Microsoft Tag technology for your products makes it possible for you to avoid spending thousands dollars for bar coding equipment.  Processing purchase orders, invoices, and packing slips over the cloud frees up time for focus on your business instead of paperwork. 

This was why I founded E3 systems because I want to help make other small business more successful by giving them technology which helps them to better serve their customers.  If you are a small business you cannot take your customers for granted.  I feel that we give you plenty of tools to better serve those customers.  Drop us a line and we will show you how. 

Until next time.


Monday, November 26, 2012

A Trillion Dollar Trend

One Trillion of anything is huge.
I hope that everyone had a good holiday weekend.  During the time off, I stumbled upon an interesting article about Silicon Valley investment banker, Sanu Desai. For those who don't know who this individual is, he helped Amazon go public back in 1997.  As a venture capital banker he seems to know where all the bodies are buried in Silicon Valley and all the latest trends regarding money.  He said something this week which is directly relevant to our business this week.  The times are changing and we are about to the transfer of over one TRILLION dollars from companies involved in business to consumer products to companies involved in business to business products.  This is good news because it is part of a trend which we caught early.

E3 systems has been pioneering a new cloud based systems which makes it possible to track your invoices, bills of lading, purchase orders and inventory online.  This is perfect for small and medium sized businesses.  You don't need to install software.  You don't need to purchase expensive servers and you don't have to worry about hassling with software upgrades.  We take care of this.  We are also perfectly focused on business users who don't have a lot of time for training their people to use new systems.  This is what makes Desai's commentary so heartening.  The technology business has spent the last twenty years making life easier for consumers.  Now it is time to make life easier for business owners. 

As technology has gotten to resemble magic more and more it is becoming hard for the small and medium sized business to provide the same kind of customer service which larger companies provide.  This is a big deal because you are now at a competitive disadvantage.  What I felt was needed was a technology service which makes it possible to provide the same tools the big firms have at a fraction of the cost.  What makes this even more important is that consumers are becoming more technologically savvy.  They will just take it for granted that they can track their products online and via mobile phones. 

This is where the one trillion dollars of wealth transfer comes from.  Larger firms like Oracle, Amazon and Microsoft will not be able to fill this important business niche. And so it will be up to smaller companies like mine to fill in the gap.  So E3 systems is competing for over a trillion dollars of money up for grabs.  If we receive just a fraction of it then we will have accomplished our mission. 

If you want to learn more about how you can be part of this growing trend please give us a call we will be glad to help. 

I can't even fathom a trillion dollars of wealth.  There has never been a trillionare in the history of human kind.  Still it is hard to ignore when this amount of money is moving in your direction.  It is nice to know you are part of a positive trend rather than swimming against the tide.  I look forward to having you join us. 

Until next time.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks this Time of Year

Give thanks and then pig out!
During this time of year, there are lots of reasons to be grateful.  The holiday demands that people take stock of their lives and families and what they have to be thankful for.  This year, I want to make a few mentions. 

I am deeply grateful for statin drugs.  With some luck, statins may break the cycle of heart attacks which runs in my family.  I am glad for clean drinking water.  Too many people do not have clean water to drink and I am grateful that I live somewhere where that is not a problem.  Finally, I am glad that the election is over and we can stop fighting about politics and get back to growing our economy. 
On a more personal note, I want to thank Mike Panone and the Joliet Chamber of Commerce providing me help and guidance.  I also have to thank my board of directors; Jen Green, John Zalanka, and my father for keeping me focused during some difficult times this year.  Finally, I want to thank each of you for following this blog and supporting us over the coming year. 
Contact us if you want to learn more about our Sully 2.0 software.  I look forward to more adventures in the coming year. 
Until next time.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Customer Anger Management

Don't get angry; get smart.
When you are having a dispute with a customer wouldn't it be nice if you had some means to help answer their concerns.  Customer service can be a very thankless job and for a small business it is made even worse because you do not have systems in place to keep track or inventory or invoices.  This is the world I understand because I have been on the end of the phone line desperately looking for a receipt or invoice for a customer.

One of the great things about our Sully 2.0 software is that it makes customer service less difficult.  You can look up invoices on-line or via your mobile phone and get answers when you need them.  We also have numerous reports illustrating how much you have sold and what your margins were when you sold it.  We have also come up with reports to give to your line employees so that when you do a physical inventory of what is in the warehouse you can compare it to what you have in Sully.   Consider it like balancing your checkbook.

Now you don't need complicated servers and software to do this.  You just need to contact us today and we will be glad to give you a demonstration of how our business intelligence platform works.  All you need is a connection to the web and all of us at E3 systems do the rest. 

So the next time an angry customer gives you a call and you can't find an invoice, remember Sully 2.0 can make your life much easier. 

Until next time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reports for Your Business.

We do reports so you don't have to.
One of the biggest challenges for a business is staying on top of all the information you need to manage your business.  At E3 Systems we understand, that is why we have provided a built in reporting system to help you track inventory and sales information in real time.  We do this because we feel you have more important things to do than sift through the data in the system to get the nugget of information you need.

We currently offer four different sales reports and two inventory reports for your inspection.  We are also accepting requests for new and different reports from all of our customers and prospective clients.  The reason we do this is because you have more important things to do than create reports.   You just subscribe to our service and we do the rest.  

If you would like more information please drop us a line.

Until next time.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Getting Back to Business

Business is very democratic.
We are reaching the end of another political season.  Frankly, I am tired of the political adds, charges and counter-charges, and social media pitches which are patently false.  It is easy for people to get jaded by the process.  I know that I do.

Interestingly, when the ballots are counted and the dust settles, we American's do a pretty good job getting back to business and living our lives.  That is what I think makes this nation great is that once the election is over we can learn to live with each other instead of stockpiling weapons and heading to the hills.

One of the strengths of this kind of Town Hall Democracy is the local Chamber of Commerce.   This last week I had the pleasure to be at the Joliet Chamber of Commerce open house.  Here along with many of the other local business people we conducted the mundane routines of a democracy; drumming up business, making contacts, and networking among like-minded people.  We were not Democrats or Republicans; we were just business people. 

This kind of activity goes on year after year in relative obscurity but it makes a difference as the knowledge of how to conduct business is passed on from member to member and generation to generation.  Even though I am a high tech software start-up, I am glad to be part of this legacy.  I have even received some inquiries from engineering firms about how our software can help them manage their products.  If you want to know more please drop us a line.  

Just remember that there are only a few days left and then the election will be over.

Until next time. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Software Development Fails.

Software development does not have to be
a train wreck.
The greatest thing about the internet is that you are exposed to the wit and wisdom of countless professionals.  When you gather together a bunch of these people we want to talk about what we do for a living.  It is just a natural extension of our identity.  Firefighters talk about firefighting, cops talk about police work, and gather together a bunch of elementary school teachers and the topic of teaching will always come up.

Last week I was exposed to a great blog article from Headspring consulting.  In it, they talk about the latest report from the Standish group.  Software developers are getting better at delivering products on time and on budget, but the success rates still resemble batting averages from baseball instead of a mature industry.  This week I want to discuss this blog and why it is so damn hard to write software. 
The present success rate for software projects is still below 50%.  This means if you are a business owner you have a less than 50% chance of a project coming in on time and on budget.   I have to agree with blog author Jeffrey Palermo, this is unacceptable.  This is why I suspect that many business owners do not want to spend money or time on software and technology because they know that the investment is risky.

I have a few theories why software is so risky.

First, software is the only technology product which is not automated.  Computer, smart phones, and mice are all manufactured on factory assembly lines.  Software is created by a bunch of engineers by hand.  This process is similar to writing a novel but it is done by committee and under often unrealistic deadlines.  This hand crafting of software means that there are no standardized parts.  So communicating with a database can be done a myriad of ways instead of one standard fashion. 

Next technology environments are heterogeneous.  It is common for a large company to have servers which run UNIX, desktop computers which run windows and staffs which have Android phones.  This means that software developers spend a great deal of time fitting square pegs into round holes.  The data on your UNIX servers needs to get on your sales forces smart phones.  It is up to your software developer to figure that out.

Third, software engineering is a craft that needs to be learned on the job.  When you hire a welder, you know that if he is hired from a union that he has spent countless hours training both in the classroom and mentored on the job.  The same holds true when you hire a plumber.  These trades have long apprenticeships where the skills to succeed on the job are taught by more skilled artisans.  Sadly, no such system exists for software engineers.  Entry level developers can be self-taught or they can be graduates from prestigious programs.  This means that no two developers are going to have the same base knowledge.

Next, there are so many different languages and design patterns for software development and no one agrees which is best.  If you want to start a fight among software developers mention that Java is a superior language to C#.  Developers are very territorial about their skills and if they are confronted with individuals who don't see design patterns and languages the same way there is going to be conflict and non-cooperation. 

Finally, many of the people who lead software teams do not have any knowledge of how software works.  If you are going into surgery you want the lead surgeon to be a doctor just like the other surgeons.  In technology, you often don't have a software engineer leading the project.  You have a manager with project management or sales experience.  This means they do not understand the challenges of the people who are actually doing the work.  It also means that they do not have the skills to help a team when it becomes "stuck" or faces unrealistic combinations of resources, time, and money. 

This is one of the reasons why I founded E3 systems.  I wanted to do software development properly.  Since we have launched the company we have gone through two major revisions to our Sully Business Intelligence Platform.   We do an upgrade on average every three weeks and each time a potential customer has asked for a feature we have delivered it in the next release.  We are pretty proud of that record and if you would like to know more you can contact us here.

So you can take your chances developing your own software and have a less than 50% chance of success or you can hire a team that does software development the way it is supposed to be done.  I hope you give us a call. 

Until next time. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Being a Business Survivor

You have to be a survivor in business
just like Requle Welch
Being a business person makes you manic-depressive.  Some days you are riding high on success and then during others you are filled with darkness because of a failure.  Entrepreneurs I have spoken to say that this is natural until you get an established client base.  This week we released a new web site to the public to make it friendlier toward sales.  We also made improvements to Sully 2.0 to make it possible to search address information.

We do things like this because one of the founding principles of our organization is Agility.  Market conditions are moving so fast that it is hard to catch up.  This is why your systems and services need to change with the dynamic environment.  Twenty years ago Fuji and Kodak were locked in a fierce battle for consumer attention.  Today both of them are struggling thanks to digital cameras.  Today, General Motors is concentrating on its manufacturing businesses because its GMAC Financial Services was killed during the start of the great recession in 2008.  If you want to survive then you must adapt to changing market conditions. 

This has been a difficult lesson for me as I have been drumming up sales and working on means to drive business to our firms.  I have had to drop old notions of how we do business and create new ones.  I have also had to embrace the messiness of being an entrepreneur.  Some days I am taking calls from Mississippi and others I am speaking with a woman from Columbia who wants to use our system.  It is very liberating but it is also like washing windows without a net. 

All of us at E3 systems would like to show you how we can help you do business over the web.  You should give us a call and we will be more than happy to help you out. 

Until then I will continue my manic-depressive quest to help your business and build mine.

Until Next time.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Moment of Clarity

This is not how we do business. 
Business people are idealized and vilified in equal measure.  For every Geroge Bailey there is a Gordon Gekko, I live in the world of business people.  I have been fortunate to know good business people and I have been cursed to work for a lot of the bad ones.  After a particularly bad day at the office, I sat in my cubical in utter misery.  It was what alcoholics call a moment of clarity.   I decided that I was going to become a business person and I was going to make sure that no one who ever worked for me felt as rotten as I did that moment.

This was why I founded E3 systems.  I wanted to make business easier for other entrepreneurs by streamlining their shipping and receiving work.  I wanted them to have the power of a Fortune 500 company at a fraction of the price.  I also wanted the system to work over the web so that they could transact business away from the office and spend time with their family and friends.

It was a noble goal and we are going to continue to pursue it.  This week we are releasing another batch of improvements to Sully 2.0.  One of them features the ability to filter addresses so they are easier to find.  We are also coming out with a series of new videos which will show you use our systems. 

It is an exciting time and I can't wait to share it with all of you.

Until next time.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Business Should Be Easy

Find out how we can make business easier.
Business is a difficult activity.  Each day you are grubbing for customers attempting to improve profits and build better services.  So why are you spending your time rifling through paperwork?  This week we want to discuss paperwork and how we can help.

If you are selling goods and services you have to generate invoices.  If you are shipping goods you need packing slips and bills of lading.  Finally, all the goods and services require labels in order for them to make it to their customers via the mail.  Wouldn't it be nice if you could take care of all this without having to hire additional staff? 

At E3 systems with our Sully 2.0 system does make this possible.  We also use Microsoft Tag technology so that you don't have to purchase expensive bar coding equipment and you can stay on top of what is going on from your office via a mobile phone, tablet computer or laptop.

We want to give you more time to spend on your business and your family.  That is why we created this system for you.  Business shouldn't have to be difficult. 

Drop us a line and we will contact you with more information. 

Until next time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Now We Support Labels

No Mystery we support Avery Labels
The key to any successful organization is to do the most amount of work in the least amount of time with the maximum level of profit.  It is one of the first principles they teach you in business school and it says with you throughout your entire career.  This week at Dirty fingers we want to discuss one of our newest features for Sully 2.0 which makes this possible; label printing.

I have discovered that many businesses which do shipping and receiving spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to print shipping labels for their products.  This usually requires a mail merge using Microsoft office and trial and error with Avery forms.  We were speaking with a business group and one of the topics which came up was how difficult it was to print Avery shipping labels. 

It took us over a year to come up with a good approach but we finally figured out a way to do it and now we support the printing of Avery 8160, 8164 and 22805 forms directly from the web.  You do not need Microsoft Office or know how to do a mail merge.  Now you just print your labels directly off the web and on to your forms. 

This is a huge time savings because now you just point and click.  This way you can place Microsoft Tags on products and shipping labels on packages with no effort. 

We are pretty proud of this innovation so give us a call and we will be happy to show you. 

Until next time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This is What We Do

We make business intelligence look pretty.
I have spent over a year promoting and blogging about my company E3 logistics systems.  What amazes me is as people get to know about my company they always ask me the same questions about what we do.  This week, I want to explain what E3 systems does.

We help you stay on top of paperwork.  If you have any inventory we help you track the number of items coming and going from your stock with no need to keep track of paperwork.  Our Sully 2.0 system helps you keep track of all your items in our web based system.  You will never have to go searching around the office for a piece of paperwork again because you can pull up the Sully 2.0 system type in a search and find all the information you are looking for.  Not only does this apply to inventory, but to bills of lading, packing slips, invoices and purchase orders.  So in one place you have all the information you need to run your business.

Next, we make it easy to gather business intelligence about the progress of your business.  Fortune 500 companies have entire teams of people who sift through pies of data to gather information about what products are hot and which ones are not.  They can track shipping costs to the penny and find out if they are making a profit with each sale.  At E3 systems we give you that ability to make you competitive with big boys.  We have a full set of reporting tools so you can track inventory, sales, and other pieces of regulatory compliance documentation.  We included this because many software packages make easy to gather data but difficult to make decisions based on that data.  Now, at a glance you know what you have in stock and if you are making money selling it.

Additionally, we make it possible to track your information via any type of computing device connected to the web.  This means if you have a tablet computer, smart phone or laptop as long as you have a connection to the web you can use our systems in a secure fashion.  No more dialing into company virtual private networks or portals.  No more messing with synching your data with company systems.  All you need is an account and mobile device and you can see your inventory, purchase orders, and invoices 24 hours a day seven days a week.  This gives you more time to interact with your customers and less time tracking down paperwork. 

Next, we bridge the gap between the world of paper and web with Microsoft Tag technology.  Thanks to Microsoft Tag technology, you can scan documents and products.  This gives you the ability to instantly communicate with the Sully 2.0 system.  Now expensive bar code scanning equipment is obsolete.  If you have a smart phone you have what is necessary to track your inventory and systems just like a major corporation.  We offer this service free of charge and make it possible to print up these Microsoft Tags with Avery 22805 labels.  No more mystery about what is on the shelf now you print out a tag stick it on a product and you have an electronic record. 

Finally, we offer this system at about the cost of digital cable television.  If you can afford $120 a month subscription fee we can make it possible to manage your inventory, purchase orders, paperwork, business intelligence and make it available 24 hours a day seven days a week on any device with a web connection.  There is no software to install.  All you need is a web browser or smart phone to access our systems.  The data is secure in our server farm located in the Pacific Northwest and you can reach us via e-mail or phone 24 hours a day. 

If you are interested in how we can help you manage your business and give you a competitive advantage over your rivals then contact us today.  You will not be disappointed.

Until next time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Caress the Cloud

Cloud computing is not something from Star Trek.  It is
real and useful. 
It is always nice to be leading a trend. Last week, I discussed cloud computing and how E3 systems are part of this technology trend. This week Forbes magazine is featuring Joe Weinman's book Cloudonomics and they discuss the good uses and possible misuses of cloud technology. What struck me was Weinman's uses of the cloud and how E3 makes that happen.

First, Weinman talks about coordination, currency, consistency and control. E3 offers its software as a service. This means that software upgrades only need to be applied once and they are to the cloud. You the customer do not have to worry about upgrading your system because we do that for you using the power of the web. We also do this at no additional cost. This gives you a consistent and coordinated platform to run your business.
 
Next, Weinman talks about cross-device access and synchronization. This means that no matter how you use a service it will show the same information independent of how you view the information. This is a central feature of E3 Systems Sully 2.0. You can use our system on a PC, laptop, tablet, or smart phone with no worries about compatibility. Our company wanted to make sure that you could get your information anytime and anywhere.

Finally, Weinman talks about checkpoints. This means that the cloud, "…can effectively filter out everything from viruses and spam to distributed deninal of service attacks." In other words, since the service is on the web, it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. This makes it harder for a hacker or thief to steal or corrupt your data. Furthermore we encrypt our applications with 128 SSL certificates and password protection.

Taken together E3 systems and its Sully 2.0 Business Intelligence Solution provides the many benefits of cloud computing particularly coordination of service, cross device access, and checkpoints for security. If you want to find out more about cloud computing and how E3 can help you use the cloud to improve your business contact us today.  We think you will like what we have to say.

Until next time.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Embrace the Cloud

Embrace the Cloud, you can thank us later.
Technology can be confusing and scary.  I spend much of my time explaining new technology to people and trying to ease their concerns.  Nothing causes more confusion than “cloud computing.”  This week, I want to explain what cloud computing is and how E3 systems can help you use it to improve your business. 

Slate.com economics writer, Matt Yglesias unveiled a survey from Wakefield Research last week about public perceptions about cloud computing.  Some of the more interesting tidbits of information were, a majority of Millennials believe that stormyweather can interfere with cloud computing and 22% surveyed  confessed to admitting they have pretended toknow what the cloud is or how it works even if they didn’t.  After a good chuckle, I wondered if people had similar feelings regarding microwave ovens or color television. 
Here is the dirty little secret about cloud computing.  Most of us are using it and we don’t even realize it.  If you are using Facebook you are using cloud computing.  If you are using an iPod you are probably using cloud computing.  In fact, any time you are saving documents or files someplace other than your computer at home or work you are using the cloud.

The cloud is nothing more than a metaphor dreamed up by networking professionals and marketing folks.  It represents computing with storage outside your local computer or network.  The data resides in the “internet cloud” on a remote server or database.  This is a positive development because this is a direct result of the explosion of personal computing and the web during the 1990’s.
Today on Gmail, a typical user can have up to Ten Gigabytes of data, which is a large amount of data.  So big that if a single e-mail was two kilobytes in size that would mean that you could hold over 5-million e-mails in your mailbox without having to worry about it filling up.    What makes this figure more fantastic is that the amount of space Google is providing each user is increasing by about 128 Megabytes a year.  In addition to those 5-Million e-mails a user can archive an additional 64,000 e-mails a year. 

Thanks to cloud computing we are dealing with big piles of data and they are stored on remote servers throughout the internet.  The raw power is staggering. 
So what does this mean to you the small business person?  It means that you can have the power and capacity of a large business with an IT budget of millions of dollars for a fraction of the price.  You do not need to spend thousands of dollars for servers and software.  All you need is a connection to the web and the power of the cloud is in the palm of your hand. 

At E3 systems we take a lot of pride in how we have used cloud computing and the internet to make it easy for a small business to manage their inventory.  With our Sully 2.0 system, you can keep track of Bills of Lading, Invoices, Packing Slips, Shipping Labels, and Purchase orders.  Contact us today and we will show you how easy it is to use. 
The “cloud” is nothing more than a fancy way of saying the “internet.”  Many of us are using it each day and do not realize it.  What makes it so fantastic is that as prices fall, storage increases and raw computing power improves it is going to make our lives easier and more connected.  As a business person you should not be afraid of the cloud but embrace it. 

Until next time.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Full Frontal Business Intelligence

Smart and Good looking systems are what we
are all about.
This week was a milestone of sorts at E3 systems.  We had our second board meeting and it was a serious sober affair where over a few bottles of water and some store bought cookies we plotted out our path for the next year.  I do not know where I would be without the guidance and support of my board and it was nice to talk about our accomplishments and challenges over the last year.

As always we talked about marketing and sales.  Any small business person will tell you that this could always be better.  After some back and forth among the board members it dawned on us that our Sully 2.0 is more than a logistics platform it is a business Intelligence Platform.  This makes it possible for a small business to manage themselves just like a Fortune 500 company for a minimal cost. 

One of the biggest headaches of a business is keeping track of how much you have on hand.  Our Sully 2.0 system does this by saving all your information on the cloud and then pulling it down for reporting purposes.  This means no matter where you are; at the office, meeting with a client, or on vacation if you have a connection to the web then you can see your inventory at the drop of a hat.  Not only do you know how much you have on hand but how much you paid for it and what type of department of transportation regulations cover that material. 

We make it possible to print up packing slips, bills of lading and invoices based on this information.  We are also proud to announce that it is now possible to print shipping labels with Avery® label technology.  No more typing up peal and stick labels for your products Sully 2.0 can print out 5160 and 5164 Avery® labels right off the web without having to use Microsoft Word or a third party program.  This speeds up the business and makes it easier to manage shipping and receiving.

Furthermore you get more full frontal business intelligence when you leverage our Microsoft Tag technology which makes it possible to do bar coding without expensive equipment.  Now every piece of paper you have can communicate with your mobile phone.  This is a free of charge service and we include it so that you can view information about your products anywhere in the world on any smart phone. 

Finally, we make it possible to put together purchase orders and incorporate them into your business with our purchase order piece.  You order an item and you can e-mail it or fax it out to your vendor and when you receive it they can add it inventory with a click.  No more lost faxes.  No more playing phone tag with vendors and no more double counting when you get it into the office. 

In spite of our board meeting being a very sober affair most of us were pretty excited when it was over.  We have a great product.  We have a marketing plan.  We also have an easy to use and economical business intelligence package which can be used everywhere.  We have full frontal business intelligence and we are not afraid to show it off.  Contact us to learn more. 

Until next time.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fighting Code Bloat

Software Bloat is not pretty so why do we have it?
I have been working as a software developer for over fourteen years.  What surprises me the most is how complicated we make software for the public.  I blame two major constituencies for this trend.  First, software developers need to stop being too clever for their own good.  We need to concentrate on doing the same features better and faster rather than cramming more features into a software program.  This desire to have software do more is affectionately known as feature bloat.  More features are crammed into the same piece of software until it gets more confusing to use. 

The other guilty party is the business people who commission these bloated software projects.  Talk to any developer and you will hear stories of reports written for only one user of a system.  You will also hear stories of features added to systems to deal with one client or situation.  Additionally, features will be added to satisfy the political needs of an organization while not making software any easier to use.  Needless to say, these situations tend to drive software developers and customers batty because these additional features represent nothing but wasted time and money from the developer.  It also represents frustration for the customer as they attempt to use the software which has grown more complicated.
This is why when we founded E3 systems we have made a point of trying to make the software as easy to use as possible.  Life is too short to spend time in training manuals and struggling to figure out how something works.  Many businesses do not have time to train their people so it is important that software is intuitive and easy to operate.  Most people just want to write out a packing slip or print an invoice.  You shouldn’t need a degree in computer science to make that happen. 

Our Sully 2.0 system makes it easy to do Bills of Lading, Packing Slips, Invoices and purchase orders.  Drop us a line and we will be happy to show you.
Until then I suppose you are going to have to suffer with bloated software.
Until next time.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Perspective

Technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the last twenty years.  In 1992, you couldn't follow the Olympics online.  Tim Berners Lee who invented the HTML was still pioneering ideas which today we take for granted.  If you even knew what on-line was back then you had to settle for Prodigy service on a 1300 baud modem or if you were lucky on 2600.  Gosh how times have changed with live feeds from NBC, the BBC and countless tweets and updates over the web it was difficult to escape the Olympics.

These changes took place because of the hard work of countless engineers, scientists and shulbs like me who spend their lives creating and taming the digital wilderness.  The change is moving faster all the time and the next great frontier is going to be mobile devices.  What hammered that point home for me was an article my friend posted on Google plus.  He mentions that over 5% of web traffic comes from iPhones and another 3% comes from Android phones.  This is doubling the web traffic of this same time last year.  I anticipate as this trend continues that by the Olympics in Rio in 2016 those figures will be about 25% for the iPhone and 15% for the Android system.  I also think that Microsoft is going to be a huge player with Windows 8 but I just don't know where they are going to fit into this growth. 

All of us at E3 systems are excited to ride this wave of innovation and have written programs which work on PC's, tablet computers and mobile devices.  We are particularly proud of how we use the Microsoft Tag technology to get your mobile device to communicate with plain pieces of paper to bridge the gap between the digital world and the real one.  Our Sully Inventory Management system makes that possible and you can find out more clicking here.

I can't wait for the next twenty years and what we are going to accomplish.  I hope you will be along for the ride. 

Until next time.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Logistics Party Like its 1992.

Most fashions from 1992 didn't not age
well.  So why are you doing business like
1992?
I have spent most of my adult life around the world of logistics.  From my early days fresh out of college to my current role as president and chief of development at E3 systems, I have been involved in the world of moving goods and services from place to place at the best price.

What has struck me is that while other businesses have become more automated and 21st century much of the logistics business seems stuck in the 1980's.  While the 1980's were a great time for music and fashion, it was not so good of a time for moving goods from place to place.  Deregulation cut a wide swath of creative destruction through the industry.  Additionally, rising fuel prices and increasing competition shrank the profits of many of the companies which remained.

Something had to give and that was investment in new and better systems to manage their business.  Computers were slow to be adopted in the industry and companies which did use computers used clunky AS/400 systems.  This became a perfect recipe for inertia and an office in the trucking business today looks very similar to an office twenty years ago.  Scattered PC's are in most offices but they reside next to green screen CRT terminals connected to obsolete mainframe and as/400 systems.  Stacks of paperwork fill countless file cabinets and many of the clerical people spend their time fat finger keying data from those forms into computer systems. 

This was one of the reasons I launched E3 systems.  I wanted to put together an easy and cheap system which business people can use with existing equipment.  No hardware to install.  All you need is an internet connection.  Feel free to contact us and find out more.

There is a better way to do business in the 21st century.  It means knowing your inventory 24 hours a day seven days a week.  It means being able to generate electronic or paper documents at a moment's notice.  It also should be easy to understand, economical and available everywhere. 

I much prefer the 21st century so why do we continue to do business like it is 1992?

Until next time.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Getting away from the mistress.

My business is my mistress.  Not as good
as this one but it is still my mistress.
Sometimes, you need to step away from your business and spend some time with family and friends who are not entrepreneurs.  When you are building your own company your business becomes your mistress, child, and unhealthy obsession.  I needed a chance to break away and set the business aside and just enjoy the moment.  I have also been dealing with health problems and I have not been as focused as I should. 

The most interesting part about taking some time off is that I notice particular things.  First,  it is pretty difficult to find a good breakfast buffet.  Next, that your struggles are not different than other peoples struggles.   Many of us get up in the morning, shake off the sleep and try to earn a living for our family and friends.  Finally, when you tell people you are an entrepreneur you are greeted by a mixture of responses which range from mild jealousy to fear.  Some people are totally frightened by abandoning all security to pursue a dream and others wonder if they have what it takes. 
I wonder sometimes myself.  I have to try and find out.  I don’t want to say I never tried.
Until next time.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Our New Website

Dude Nice looking website.
Rebuilding a web site is a big deal.  It is not undertaken lightly and usually includes a committee of people attempting to be creative.  I hate redesigning web sites because everyone seems to know how a web site should look but many people do not understand how to make it happen.  This leaves me confronted with power point slides and Photoshop graphics with marketing people telling me that it should look exactly like the file they sent me.  Thoughts about cross browser compatibility and how the site should look on a mobile phone seem like secondary considerations.  It was a website redesign which finally pushed me over the edge and convinced me that I should be an entrepreneur.

It has been almost a year since I formally founded E3 systems.  When I did I had a clean and easy to understand website which leveraged the latest web technologies and looked good on all the major browsers.  I decided to ignore IE6 because Google and Yahoo decided to. I was pretty proud of it but I knew as we were reaching our one year anniversary we needed a refresh. 

I took inspiration from Microsoft's MSDN website.  The good folks at Redmond are getting ready for the fall release of Windows 8 and are slowly changing over their web sites to have a more metro look and feel.  I decided that I should do the same.  This biggest challenge was finding an easy way to create the tiles and icons used in a Metro layout.  Searching around Microsoft's blog network, I was pointed toward a company called Syncfusion and they had a tool which manufactured Metro style tiles.  Armed with this tool I began the site redesign. 

To avoid making the swap too jarring, I decided that I would only change the front page of the web site and keep the remaining pages in the same format with Metro style flourishes.  I also wanted to make sure that users of the web site had access to all of our social media venues including our YouTube channel.  I also wanted to see if I could leverage the grid 960 css frameworks.  It was like putting together a complicated puzzle which would better appeal to our customers. 

The results speak for themselves.  The landing page contains all the information which old landing page did.  The social media icons are not as distracting.  Users do not have to scroll through the page to digest all the content.  It also looks good on tablet computers and PC's. 

Look over our web site and let us know what you think.

Until next time.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Making QR Codes Useful.

Dare you to Scan this Code.
Sometimes you stumble on to the strangest stuff when you are reading a business magazine.  This week it was the good folks at Bloomberg who claimed the use of QR codes by marketing firms are not generating expected results.  I mentally rolled my eyes and finished the article.  Those of us in the technology business had been noticing this trend for a while and it is clear to me that the good folks at Bloomberg are just starting to catch up.

I have been following QR codes and Microsoft Tag for the last two years and I can say that they are just not the correct tools for advertising.  This is because advertisers just think that QR codes are an easy way to generate mobile engagement.  What I am discovering is that there is no easy way to generate mobile engagement.   Just because you slap a QR code on a flyer or poster does not instantly give you an inroad to someone's mobile phone. 

It does not help that the content behind these QR code is poor to begin with.  Most web sites are not optimized for mobile browsers so when you scan a QR code they do not look good on the phone.  Also the content is not unique so they can access this from their desk top.  It would be farcical if it wasn't so sad.  I was speaking with a fellow company at a trade show and they complained about this and I told them if they linked their QR codes to YouTube videos or special coupons they would get more scans.  Simple advice but people are paying thousands of dollars to advertising agencies and are getting poor return on their money. 

I see QR codes and MS Tag differently.  These technologies make it easier to track paper documents and share them with the digital world which means they are perfect for the world of logistics.  Naturally, they are part of E3 systems application Sully®.  Scanning a QR code or MS Tag should make the traditional bar coding application obsolete and that is what I intend to do.  So I dare you to scan that MS Tag above and check out our video and learn a little more about Sully®.  I also hope that advertising agencies get a little smarter on how they use QR codes.

Until next time.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sucking It Up for the Business

We made the cut thanks to everyone who helped.
One of my early mentors when I worked in the casino industry was a 30 veteran of Harrah’s Casino Lake Tahoe.  His name was Andy LaChapelle and he said this on the first day I became a pit boss at the punkie age of 26.  He said, “I have known people who get by on charm and cuteness their whole lives.  I have no use for them.  Sooner or later you are going to have quit being charming and cute.  Someday you are going to have to suck it up and know what the hell you are doing.  Then we can work together. “ 

It was a shocking message to a twenty something college grad.  Hard work and personal debasement was something expected of you.  You were expected to sacrifice for your career and may-be the pay-off would be respect from colleges and possible security.  For someone who was accustomed to being encouraged to achieve excellence to being expected to achieve excellence, it was a very swift wake up call.  It is also a message I have passed down when I coach speech and work with young people at my church youth group.
On June 30th, I had to experience one of those suck it up moments.  I wanted to share it with you.  For those who have been following me, it has been no secret that I have been attempting to earn a grant from J.P. Morgan Chase’s Mission Small Business program.  $250,000 would be a huge boon to our organization.  We could get some equipment, hire some people and finally devote full time attention to the business.  It would have been foolish for us not to take a chance. 

I have spent the last five weeks working with members of my board of directors to craft my submission.  It was a difficult back and forth and it took four revisions but I feel like we put together a good bid.  In addition, to our bid we needed 250 votes from Facebook to qualify for consideration.  Five days before the deadline we submitted our bid.  Then I expected, wrongly, to spend the month of July gathering votes so that when Chase makes their decision on September 15th we would make the cut.  That was when I received a tweet from Chase which said the deadline for voting was June 30th.  I had 35 votes and I would be locked out of the competition if I didn’t get more. 
I sent out emails to people.  I started spamming Facebook with messages and I leveraged every social media contact I could.  I even nagged my pastor to put out the word to his friends to pitch in and help out.  I had 55 votes and I had three days to get the remaining 200.  It was looking very bleak.  This was when I went on to Twitter to complain and discovered a hash tag where small businesses were swapping votes to qualify.  In a tit for tat fashion, I voted for someone in exchange they voted for me.  I got to meet all sorts of interesting people from shoe stores to consulting companies who work with business women.  I even made some friends in the process.  It was Thursday night and I had just over 100 votes. 
I went to bed with visions of failure and decided that after I worked a full day I would dive back into it on Friday night.  I met more cool people and was scolded by a woman running an organic business telling me not to be too eager.  I also used up my daily quota of 250 tweets.  I had 150 votes and as I shuffled off to bed I could see any chances of helping my business fade away. 
The next morning I got up.  I took my time showered and had some breakfast.  I knew it was going to be a long day.  I was going to need over 100 votes and I had fifteen hours to make it happen.  I started sending messages out via Facebook soliciting for votes.  After three hours, Facebook forbade the process and blocked me from sending messages.  This was when I dove into Twitter and began hustling for votes.  Saturday morning on the 30th wasn’t so bad but as the day wore on tempers began to get shorter and people started getting more desperate.  It was madness. 
This was when a funny thing happened.  People began sharing my messages on Facebook and sending me messages of encouragement telling me they were not only voting but showing their support for us.  I had the matron of a major branch of my family put out an all-points bulletin to my cousins to cast a vote.   I was inching closer and I was at 190 votes.  The messages kept coming and people I worked with in the past began to pushing for me.  It was very humbling.  I had really abused my social network and the response was that network pitching in to help me reach my goal.  I do not want to do that again.  I certainly do not want to abuse that good will. 
It was eight hours into this exercise and I was still 20 votes short.  Many of the people still on twitter had already swapped votes.  It was pretty sad that so many good businesses could not get the votes they needed.  Finally, some new companies came on and over the next two hours we were able to swap votes.  It was 6:30 in the evening I had spent an entire day and I had gotten the necessary 100 votes to put me over the top.  I stuck around for another hour helping others and then logged off thanking everyone. 
Over three insane days, I had gone from 35 votes to 261.  I was now in.  I haven’t won the 250K grant but at least now I would be considered.  I could not have done it without the help of people on twitter and Facebook pulling for me.  I have a lot of gratitude for those people and a lot of thank you notes to write. 
For three days, I sacrificed my dignity and reputation to suck it up and make something happen for my business.  I get the feeling that this will not be the last time.  Some times during the process, I felt like a beggar pleading for the kindness of others.  It was humbling.  Still people believed in me and I was able to make a difference for my small company.
Now, all I can do is wait until September 15 until Chase decides if I am worthy of 250K.  If they can lose six billion dollars on some phantom bets on real estate stock then I think they can take a chance on a small business which actually builds something.  An entrepreneur can dream. 
So Andy LaChapelle’s wisdom lives on.  I sucked it up and sacrificed.  Now I have a chance to earn 250K for my business.  It wasn’t pretty but it was necessary.  I hope that the effort was worth it.  Thanks to everyone who chipped in and helped out.  It means a great deal to me. 
Until next time.