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; 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  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.